Governor Signs Bill to Restore Eelgrass and Mitigate Harmful Effects of Carbon Dioxide

September 29, 2016

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill (SB) 1363, authored by Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel), which requires the Ocean Protection Council, in coordination with the State Coastal Conservancy, to establish a program to restore eelgrass in order to mitigate the impacts of global warming on the ocean and on California’s coastal plant and animal species.

“Governor Brown has been a leader in working to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions and I appreciate that he saw the value in my bill,” said Senator Monning.  “SB 1363 is an important step forward in the restoration of eelgrass in the state, a multi-beneficial native California plant that creates a more hospitable environment for other native species and helps to mitigate the impact of carbon dioxide on the earth’s atmosphere.” 

Eelgrass provides foraging areas and shelter to fish and invertebrates, food for migratory waterfowl and sea turtles, and spawning surfaces for invertebrates and fish.  Scientific research has shown that eelgrass habitats provide multiple benefits by providing essential fish habitat to recover salmon populations, improving water clarity by filtering polluted runoff, absorbing excess nutrients, and helping to mitigate sea level rise.  However, since the 1850s, 90 percent of California’s eelgrass acreage has been destroyed and the remaining 10 percent is continuously exposed to multiple stressors and threats.

SB 1363 establishes the Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Reduction Program to:

  • Develop demonstration projects to evaluate the best locations for carbon dioxide removal strategies, including the protection and restoration of eelgrass beds;
  • Generate an inventory of locations where conservation or restoration of aquatic habitats, including eelgrass, can be successfully applied; and
  • Incorporate the consideration of carbon dioxide removal during the habitat restoration planning process in order to fully account for the benefits of long-term carbon storage of habitat restoration.

SB 1363 was sponsored by Audubon California, supported by the Big Sur Land Trust, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Sierra Club California, and will go into effect on January 1, 2017. 

 

Contact: Elizabeth Stitt, (916) 651-4017