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New Palos Verdes Reef

by The Sportfishing Conservancy 14 May 13:49 UTC
New Palos Verdes Reef © The Sportfishing Conservancy

Today there is a new reef forming off the California Coast. After more than three decades in planning and permitting, the Palos Verdes / Montrose Settlement Mitigation Reef placement is finally under way.

THEN: (our last look) October, 2018

The Montrose Settlement Project to construct and artificial reef on the Palos Verdes shelf sees slow progress, but still faces hurdles.

"The Montrose Settlement Agreement is the outgrowth of a 1990 lawsuit over the dumping of tons of DDT and PCBs into the Southern California Bight. The Settlement Agreement dedicates over 100 million dollars towards restoration of the environmental damage the dumping caused. One facet of the suit deals directly with the local recreational/subsistence fishing community, specifically where NOAA's national Marine Fishery Service was tasked with heading up the restoration efforts. To say that their effort, taking nearly three decades, working to construct an artificial reef is glacially slow would be a complement. Like so many bureaucratic agencies whose compensation is tied to hourly wage and not accomplishment, the fish folks have been in no hurry to get the job done. However, there are bright spots: enter Dr. Dan Pondella and crew. Dan heads up the Southern California Marine Institute and is a marine biology professor at Occidental. He has taken the challenge and has actually helped move the needle. However, other hurdles remain ahead including review by the California Coastal Commission in early 2019. Dan and our reef will need support, so stay tuned and plan to give us a hand detailing the benefit of constructed marine habitat when the occasion arises."

(TSC Constant Contact October 2018)

NOW: The Good News, May 12, 2020

Dr. Dan Pondella (and crew) have actually prevailed and managed to nudge the Montrose Settlement reef mitigation into reality. The attached photo shows Connolly Pacific marine contractors placing quarry rock off the Palos Verdes peninsula creating a reef on the ubiquitous Southern California soft mud and sand sea floor.

Creating this reef has been a monumental struggle and congratulations are in order for all who worked on this extended project, but in particular to Dan and his team. There is a long list of folks who have helped, but Dan and his crew managed to finally push this over the finish line (oh, and Dan did note that while reefing is now under way, after a short hiatus it is scheduled for completion late this summer).

It is also critically important to point out the truly big winners here, the California marine environment and the local outdoors communities. Constructed habitat has consistently shown to dramatically increase valuable marine life production by providing more opportunity for species to thrive. The Montrose settlement was designed as a mitigation to provide for construction and local access to these emerging recreational fishery resources. While it is a shame that it took more than a quarter century to become a reality, the good news is that it is happening now.

Tight lines,
Tom

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