Cottie Petrie-Norris

Legislation to increase marine life restoration projects moves forward

Legislation to expand opportunities for marine life restoration projects passed off the Senate floor on a 39-0 vote and now heads back to the Assembly for a final vote. Authored by Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, AB 63 will update the Marine Managed Areas Improvement Act (MMAIA) to increase opportunities for vital marine life restoration projects in classified marine conservation areas.

“We are already experiencing the devastating effects of climate change and it is directly affecting our beautiful California coast,” said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach).“Through the expansion of restoration projects, AB 63 will help ensure that we have a coast we can continue to enjoy, not just now but for generations to come.”

Marine life restoration plays an essential role in mitigating the devastating effects of climate change and human impacts through the maintenance and enhancement of our marine fisheries and habitats. For example, in California’s iconic kelp forests, kelp restoration ensures that our oceans retain the critical benefits kelp offers to our environment: carbon retention, and food and habitats for more than 800 species including the endangered sea otter, rockfish and abalone. This also provides for many of the more than 1 million jobs fueling California’s Ocean Economy. According to UC San Diego, 90% of bull kelp has been lost due to rising sea temperatures in Northern California. Restoration is a critical tool to be able to respond to changes such as these and more.

“Get Inspired has been dedicated to ocean restoration projects since 2009. We have been restoring the kelp forests and other species that are in decline with the help of thousands of students and volunteers,” said Nancy Caruso, Marine Biologist and Founder of Get Inspired, Inc. “We are so grateful for the support of Assemblywoman Petrie Norris, her work for the ocean and our environment is tireless and appreciated.”

The MMAIA establishes six classifications designating managed areas in marine and estuarine environments. Each classification maintains its own specified, authorized activities such as education and restoration. However, under current California code, the State is unable to permit restoration in classified marine conservation areas. This gap has resulted in a barrier to important and beneficial coastal restoration initiatives. AB 63 will update MMAIA to include restoration as a permitted activity in marine conservation areas and cut unnecessary green tape to enable NGOs, universities and local conservation groups to restore marine life along California’s Coast.

“As climate change accelerates, we must make extra efforts to ensure that our vibrant marine life is protected,” said Senator Min (D-Irvine). “I’m proud to be a co-author of AB 63, which provides those crucial protections for our marine ecosystems, so that our children and grandchildren, in Orange County and across the state, will be able to enjoy and appreciate the wondrous natural habitats of our coastlines and estuary systems.”

AB 63 is supported by American Cetacean Society-Orange County, Blue Endeavors, California Aquaculture Association, California Watershed Network, Get Inspired, Inc., HoldFast Aquaculture LLC, Ocean Defenders Alliance, One World One Ocean Campaign, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, Save Our Shores, Sierra Club California, Spark Joy Foundation and Wholly H2O.

This article was released by the Office of Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris.