repost: urchin control, kelp restoration, in Mendocino

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Posted by Roger on February 28, 2020 at 18:56:04:

reposting this from the OC Diving mailing list

The day has finally come!
Earlier this week, the CDFW approved the smashing of sea urchins in half of a very small cove up in Mendocino county. This is a monumental decision and it took 3 years to get them to approve it. Reef Check just got awarded $500k to monitor the whole thing. (read below if you have not been keeping up). I would like to set up a ROAD TRIP for SoCal divers to go up and support this effort. They are planning a big urchin smashing party on May 16 and 17th. If you would like to go, please let me know and I will arrange it. If you have any questions about this, please call me.

From the Watermanís Alliance Facebook pageÖ

As you may have heard, on 2/21/2020 the DFG enacted a temporary regulation removing the recreational limit on purple urchin at Caspar Cove to facilitate underwater culling by recreational divers. Yesterday the OPC approved a $500,000 budget to fund commercial removals and the scientific monitoring of recreational and commercial efforts. They have done this because we asked for it. We have asked for an opportunity to show that recreational divers can have a positive impact on the recovery of our kelp forests. Their challenge to us now is to prove it. This is something that divers are asking for in other locations like Monterey and Sonoma but if we want to get it elsewhere we have to prove we can do it here first.

The measure of success for the recreational effort will be;
1. Participation- We need everyone to be a part of this. Divers, non-divers, kayakers, beach goers. The state needs to see that this activity is going to be supported by many user groups and that it will be long term.
2. Useful data- The department isnít doing this to give us something to do. This entire project, recreational and commercial is a study. Weíre trying to determine the best and most efficient methods that people can aid in the recovery and protection of our kelp forests not just here but anywhere in the world. We are being allowed to do this so that the scientists can study what we are doing and evaluate our effectiveness.
3. Results- We need to prove that recreational divers can clear an area and keep it clear if given the opportunity.

Iím also excited to announce that Reef Check will be doing all of the scientific study designs and data monitoring. Iíve been working on projects with Reef Check for several years now, first on the abalone FMP, now urchin. Iíve been impressed by the character of each member of the administrative team as well as the integrity of the organization and the data they produce. As far as our recreational efforts are concerned, the regulation allowing us to crush at Caspar will go into effect on March 2. Within the first week or two of March I will place a red buoy on the south side of Caspar Cove. Iím asking all divers that go to Caspar focus your effort here. Start at the anchor and work your way out from there. Reef Check is going to be working overtime for the next few weeks to design protocols and reporting requirements for us. Once they know how they are going to monitor the site and what we need to report to aid in the data collection we will announce the new protocol and how to report our activity. There is no law or regulation that we have to follow these protocols or report anything. This is an entirely voluntary program but as I said, this is a test. The most important part of this test is, can we follow protocol and will we report accurate useful information. If we canít do these things this regulation will expire in 6 months and I will have no argument to keep this effort or anything like it going. FOR THIS REASON IT IS VITAL THAT WE FOLLOW THE PROTOCOLS ONCE THEY ARE ESTABLISHED AND ACCURATELY REPORT ANY INFORMATION REEF CHECK REQUESTS OF DIVERS INVOLVED WITH THIS PROJECT. Assuming that we do follow the voluntary protocol and reporting formats, at the end of the first six months the DFG would extend the regulation and begin the lengthy process of a full regulatory change allowing us to continue.

Thank you,

The Reef Check protocols should be announced in a few weeks. For the next year my task is to get as many recreational divers as possible to crush purple urchin at Caspar and follow the Reef Check protocols. Iím asking that all clubs, shops, and individuals help me in this effort. Clubs can plan club dives, shops could offer free rental gear on shop trips to Caspar or do other promotional activities, individuals can encourage other divers to join them and help out. This needs to become a movement.

Letís start the year off with a big effort. Letís try to get all the clubs, all the shops, and as many divers as we can to start the year off right with a weekend of crushing May 16th and 17th. Thatís the weekend after Motherís day and before Memorial weekend.

Who will help me promote this?

Nancy L. Caruso
Marine Biologist/Founder
Get Inspired

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