Case StudiesMarine Protected Area Planning
Marine Protected Area Planning
California’s Marine Life Protection Act
Kearns & West is currently the lead facilitator on a project implementing California’s Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). The MLPA directs the state to redesign California's system of marine protected areas (MPA) to increase its coherence and effectiveness in protecting the state's marine life and habitats, marine ecosystems, and marine natural heritage, as well as to improve recreational, educational and study opportunities provided by marine ecosystems. A public-private partnership consisting of state resource management agencies and private foundations was formed to implement the MLPA. The partnership requires the use of the best readily available science as well as the advice and assistance of a scientific advisory team, resource managers, stakeholders, and members of the public.
Kearns and West’s responsibilities include collaborative process design, strategic planning, and facilitation of a series of “regional stakeholder groups” along the California coast. The role of each regional stakeholder group is to evaluate the existing MPAs in its region and then design a new network of MPAs that meets the goals of the MLPA. The stakeholders are required to work closely with a scientific advisory team, a policy level “blue ribbon task force,” and state and federal agencies to inform their deliberations. This effort to implement the MLPA began in 2005.
Between 2005 and 2009, Kearns & West staff co-facilitated the Central Coast, North Central Coast, and South Coast Regional Stakeholder Groups, each of which came to agreement on a suite of alternative MPA proposals. Most recently, Kearns & West served as lead facilitator for the North Coast Regional Stakeholder Group and helped them arrive at a single unified MPA proposal for the north coast—a significant achievement given the diverse interests at stake and the complexities of the scientific information.
Salmon Protection Workshops
California Ocean Protection Council
Kearns & West provided strategic planning, process design, and facilitation supporting California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) efforts to address declining salmon populations in California. OPC coordinates and improves the protection and management of California's ocean and coastal resources and implements the Governor's “Ocean Action Plan.” Kearns & West designed and facilitated two public workshops to inform OPC decisionmaking. The goals of the workshops were to assess public views on primary causes of wild salmon population decline and gather recommendations from the public on objectives and strategies for improving California’s wild salmon protection policy. More than 80 members of the public attended the workshops, representing a diversity of interests and perspectives, including commercial and recreational fishermen, tribes, researchers and scientists, conservation groups, local, state, and federal agencies, and concerned citizens. Kearns & West prepared a summary report for the OPC which identified water supply (including flow and timing), barriers, water quality, and habitat alteration as primary causes for the long-term decline of wild salmon populations. The report also highlighted recommended policy objectives for addressing the salmon issue as well as key strategies for achieving these objectives, including enforcing existing laws such as sections of the Fish & Game Code and Water Code, and re-structuring the state’s system of water use to ensure adequate supplies for salmon.
WaveConnect Wave Energy Projects
Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E)
One of the largest combination natural gas and electrical utility companies, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), provides services to Northern and Central California. PG&E retained Kearns & West to provide process design, public involvement and neutral facilitation assistance associated with the siting of two wave energy projects in California, as part of their WaveConnect project. These wave energy projects, when completed, will be the first hydrokinetic projects sited off the coast of California.
For the Humboldt WaveConnect project, Kearns & West conducted a stakeholder assessment, confidential interviews, and public workshops, and convened and facilitated a Humboldt Working Group since June 2009 (comprising fishing, environmental and local economic interests, as well as regulatory agencies, local elected officials and representatives of the public). The Group provided input on the appropriate site for the project, developed recommendations on the adaptive management and monitoring program, and contributed toward other aspects of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Pilot Project license application. For the Central Coast WaveConnect project, Kearns & West conducted a stakeholder assessment and confidential interviews, hosted a series of public information workshops, and solicited stakeholder interest in participating in a Central Coast WaveConnect Working Group.
Marine Protected Area Monitoring
California Marine Protected Areas Monitoring Enterprise
The California Marine Protected Areas Monitoring Enterprise develops and delivers monitoring data essential for ensuring the long-term adaptive management of the new statewide system of marine protected areas (MPA) designated through the California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). Passed in 1999, the MLPA mandated the designation of MPAs in five study regions in state waters. These MPAs, once designated, undergo periodic review to determine whether they are achieving their stated objectives and the goals of the MLPA.
Kearns & West was hired in 2008 to assist with the design of a stakeholder and scientific input process to develop a monitoring plan for MPAs in the North Central Coast region of the state. Kearns & West provided public involvement strategy, process design, and facilitation support to the California MPA Monitoring Enterprise for the development of a monitoring plan for North Central Coast MPAs. Kearns & West’s responsibilities included a stakeholder assessment, selection of diverse stakeholders to participate in workshops, and planning, design, facilitation, and support of two workshops. Additionally, Kearns & West provided strategic advice on communications and outreach to the MPA Monitoring Enterprise and assisted with efforts to solicit broader public feedback on the North Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plan.
Fisheries Hydroacoustic Working Group
National Marine Fisheries Service
Kearns & West facilitated a two-day meeting of the Fisheries Hydroacoustic Working Group (FHWG) to support its continuing effort to better understand the effects of pile driving on fish and increase coordination between the involved agencies. The meeting brought representatives from various agencies, universities, and organizations together to collaboratively learn from one another, to discuss and analyze proposed criteria for estimating the onset of physical injury to fishes from exposure to underwater sound produced during pile driving, and to define critical unresolved issues. Representatives from the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Federal Highway Administration, and the California, Oregon, and Washington State Departments of Transportation reached agreement on interim criteria for sound levels from pile driving.
California Sustainable Seafood Initiative Advisory Panel
California Ocean Protection Council
Kearns & West is currently providing strategic planning, process design, and facilitation services to the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) to support implementation of the California Sustainable Seafood Initiative (CSSI). The CSSI arose out of California Assembly Bill 1217, which requires the OPC to develop and implement a voluntary sustainable seafood certification program for California fisheries. The statute directs the OPC to: 1) develop a protocol to guide entities on how to be independently certified to internationally accepted standards for sustainable seafood, 2) implement a marketing assistance program for such seafood in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, 3) develop a competitive grant and loan program to help fisheries become certified as sustainable when funded by the legislature, and 4) design a label or labels that may be used exclusively to identify seafood caught in California. To support its work, the OPC appointed an Advisory Panel consisting of 1) fish processors, traders, and retailers, 2) restauranteurs, 3) non-governmental organizations, 4) scientists, 5) fishery managers and governmental representatives, 6) and commercial fishing representatives. Kearns & West’s role is to design and facilitate Advisory Panel meetings and coordinate Panel advice on implementing the statute.
Marine ResourcesOceans are facing an unprecedented set of challenges that can no longer be ignored. The health of marine ecosystems and the quality of ocean and coastal waters are increasingly under threat. Fisheries are struggling to be both ecologically and economically sustainable, and coastal waters are being looked at to help solve today’s energy needs. And all of this is taking place within an increasingly complex context characterized by growing numbers of ocean users, significant gaps in available data, coordination challenges among numerous responsible agencies, complexities of managing resources at an ecosystem level, and uncertainties introduced by climate change. Addressing these challenges requires the effective engagement of policy makers, regulatory and resource management agencies, local governments, ocean-dependent industries, recreational users, environmental organizations and others.
Kearns & West delivers customized solutions centered around stakeholder-focused collaboration and public involvement to achieve marine resource management goals. Our team brings unique process expertise and a keen understanding of the scientific and policy issues that underlie today’s ocean and coastal challenges.
Kearns & West specializes in:
- Coastal Restoration
- Ecosystem Based Management
- Fisheries Management
- Marine Spatial Planning
- Marine Protected Areas
- Protected Resources
- Research and Monitoring Planning
- Resource Conservation and Biodiversity