Mark Stone: The next steps to protect our coast
Through September 2, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary are hosting Big Blue Live – an unprecedented series of live natural history broadcasts from PBS and the BBC. Big Blue Live highlights the remarkable marine life that gathers in Monterey Bay each summer, and celebrates an ocean conservation success story of global significance. We’re publishing guest commentaries about conservation efforts that contribute to the health of the bay and our ocean planet. This is from California Assemblymember Mark Stone, who represents the Monterey Bay region.
California’s 29th Assembly District is where I call home, which includes portions of Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and Monterey counties. My district also includes Monterey Bay – epicenter of the wildlife success story featured on Big Blue Live! The bay encompasses several California Marine Protected Areas and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, where some of the world’s most amazing marine creatures converge off the Central Coast.
Last week, I had the privilege to attend a private screening of Big Blue Live at the aquarium. Not only was I able to see some of the highlights captured so far, but I also heard the broadcast’s producers and onscreen commentators express their excitement and passion about what they’ve experienced here. We – as Californians and as Americans – should be proud to claim Monterey Bay as our own.
I’m honored to have this natural treasure in my district, and pleased to be able to invite the world to witness its restoration. More importantly, I have a responsibility as a policy maker to help ensure it continues to recover and remain healthy in the future – for the sake of the wildlife and the people who live here.
I believe that some of the best ways to do so are to rely on sound science to drive ocean policy decisions and to engage constituents every step of the way. A shining example is the 1999 California Marine Life Protection Act, which directed the designation of a science-based network of marine protected areas (MPAs) along California’s coast – the first of its kind in the nation. Though it took until 2013 to complete all the designations, the result was a total of 124 MPAs that cover 16 percent of state waters. This outcome is a strong testament to Julia Platt’s legacy of environmental protection and leadership by policy makers, with the backing of scientists and other stakeholders.
As former vice chair of the California Coastal Commission, current chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Coastal Protection, and current member of the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources , I’m well positioned to help ensure that California remains a national and global model for effective ocean conservation policies. Monterey Bay area is the ideal place to apply those principles, especially with the support of the Aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Hopkins Marine Station and other credible sources of information within reach. This special place is not only a living laboratory, it is also an economic engine and a vibrant coastal community.
The challenges are many, but so are the opportunities for success. Monterey Bay and the ocean at large face threats from climate change, plastic pollution, overfishing and other impacts. The California Legislature has passed, and is currently considering, several environmental bills that would help address some of these issues. We continue to seek ways to do more to protect the ocean and coast that are the lifeline of our state – our home.
Please join us in our efforts to sustain the many marine animals and plants that grace our shores. Thank you for helping these initiatives advance, for the sake of future generations that stand to benefit.