sea ranch

 

Sonoma / Mendocino Coast Subject of New Study

 

The recent approval of a new Marine Life Protective Act (MLPA) Initiative from a Blue Ribbon panel of the Governor received much enthusiasm on one side, and complaints and anger from anglers. Karina Nielsen, associate professor of biology is quite excited about MLPA, and has a new task related to the initiative--to monitor protected coastal areas and find out what happens to habitats, marine ecosystems, and marine natural heritage.

 

The establishment of Marine Protected Areas has brought much contention from sportsfishing groups who don't believe the creation or extension of some regions should be enacted and virtually do away with portions of their traditional "fishing holes" in the Pacific. Designated MPAs were established along the north central coast and put into law recently, and now the science community has been asked to participate and provide reports on what transformations will take place, if any.

 

Nielsen received a grant to examine the sandy beaches and the species that live in the surf zone while other scientists are studying different aspects such as the rocky inter-tidal areas, with the goal of meeting in one year and compiling information from the various projects involved in a two year study of Sonoma, Mendocino, Marin and San Mateo counties.

 

Adaptive management which involves probing the functioning of an ecosystem in a strategic manner is a project that could involve college students who are focused on marine science. Nielson works at Sonoma State and is excited at the prospect of involving her students in summer projects through grant money she hopes to receive.

 

The newly formed Marine Protected Areas program has a five year plan and around that marker will be re-assessed.