Protect Our Oceans

Celebrating 10 years of exemplary ocean protections

On March 15 and 16, Conservation Associate Ben Grundy travelled to Monterey to participate in California's first ever marine protected area management review forum and provided public comment at the Fish and Game Commission's Marine Resources Committee meeting. Members of the environmental community, state officials, and Tribes engaged in discussions about the successes and shortcomings of managing the state's network of 124 marine protected areas over the last 10 years. Grundy's testimony and highlights from the historic week can be found below:


Ben Grundy | TPIN
Conservation Associate Ben Grundy, CALPIRG Students UC San Diego Chapter Chair Byul Sak, UC San Diego Protect our Oceans Campaign Coordinator Toby Ngo, UC Berkeley CALPIRG Students Grassroots Coordinator Kate Burkhardt, and CALPIRG Students Campus Organizers Ori Liwang and Prabhdeep Rai pose with Fish and Game Commission President Eric Sklar and Commissioner Samantha Murray
Ben Grundy | TPIN
Conservation Associate Ben Grundy, Environment California Intern Rachel Lucine, UC San Diego Protect our Oceans Campaign Coordinator Toby Ngo, and CALPIRG Students Campus Organizer Ori Liwang table in support of stronger marine protected areas.

On Thursday, March 16, the Fish and Game Commission’s Marine Resources Committee held a meeting to allow members of the public to offer reflections and recommendations for the next 10 years of ocean protections. Ben Grundy provided public comment on the success of the state’s marine protected area (MPA) network and called for the commission to strengthen and expand the state’s network of MPAs. His full testimony can be found below:

Conservation Associate Ben Grundy at MPA Day in Monterey, CA Ben Grundy | TPIN
Conservation Associate Ben Grundy provides public comment at the Fish and Game Commission's Marine Resources Committee meeting Ben Grundy | TPIN

“California’s unique network of 124 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) makes the state a global leader in protecting the critical habitats and life existing in and around our oceans. However, with a warming planet, rising sea level, and historic species extinctions, it is clear that California must strengthen and expand our existing network of protections with highly and fully protected MPAs.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s recent decadal management review report found that California’s ocean refuges are having positive effects on marine species, including supporting bigger and more abundant fish populations compared to waters outside their boundaries.

The report also examined how marine protected areas responded to climate change-driven events. For example, the report found that during the 2014-2016 marine heat wave that affected the United States’ entire Pacific coast, some ecosystems within marine protected areas remained more stable and recovered faster following the heatwave than those in unprotected areas.

MPAs are working! But these protections must be given time so that they can reach their full potential. The research on California’s marine protected areas clearly suggests that strong protections translate into ecosystem and marine life benefits.  That is why I urge the commission to continue its strong protections of the existing marine areas. We cannot risk losing the commendable progress we have made.

We must strengthen and expand California’s MPA network. The progress we have made in establishing the current network is nothing short of an extraordinary accomplishment. We now have a real opportunity to build on our successes, learn from our mistakes, and set a course for stronger and more effective Marine Protected Areas for all. In that, I ask that you continue to support strong protections and monitoring programs, as well as consider holding new and equitable conversations surrounding the expansion of the current network.

On behalf of more than 1,400 Californias, I’d like to deliver our support of the commission expanding and strengthening California’s MPA network.”

Following his testimony, Grundy delivered the 1,479 petitions in support of expanding and strengthening California’s marine protected areas to Fish and Game Commission staff.

Ben Grundy

Former Conservation Campaign Associate, Environment California

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