(9 September 2004 - Oakland, CA) Environmental Defense today urged Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign the California Ocean Protection Act (COPA), a bill that passed the California Legislature in August 2004. COPA was designed as a solution to the urgent need for restoration and additional zones of protection for our oceans as outlined in two prestigious national reports by the Pew Oceans Commission and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. "With the Governor's signature on this bill, California can lead nationwide in restoring our marine environment and bringing back damaged fisheries," said Environmental Defense marine conservation advocate Richard Charter.
COPA would create a California Ocean Council, comprised of state agency leaders, that coordinates the activities of the Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency, and the State Lands Commission to address major threats such as pollution, overfishing and habitat damage.
COPA would implement the Ocean Protection Trust Fund that pays for ocean conservation projects such as pollution control, scientific research, monitoring, and enforcement programs. According to Environmental Defense senior scientist Dr. Rod Fujita, "the Ocean Protection Trust Fund's innovative revolving loan program would provide seed money for fisheries reform measures and business plans that will repay the state's investment both financially and with healthier ocean ecosystems and coastal communities."
Environmental Defense also praised the Governor, the Department of Fish and Game, the Resources Agency and the Legislature for funding and implementing California's existing landmark Marine Life Protection Act. The Act manages the state's network of marine protected areas and creates an inclusive science-based stakeholder process to consider new protected areas in nearshore coastal waters. "Environmental Defense urges Governor Schwarzenegger to push forward with positive ocean legislation," said Charter. "His leadership is critical in keeping our oceans alive."