March 28, 2011

Save Our State Parks! Advocacy in Action in Sacramento

Last Tuesday, The California State Parks Foundation organized their 9th Annual State Parks Advocacy Day and Save Our Shores was there to advocate along with 175 others! We were a force to be reckoned with! We were all split into teams according to our region of California, so I was part of a Central Coast team made up of 4 Santa Cruzians and our token San Franciscan.

Our team visited Assembly member Tony Mendoza, Assembly member Luis Alejo (Former major of Watsonville), Senator Joe Simitian, Assembly member Bill Monning and Assembly member Jim Beall. We talked to all of them about two main pieces of legislation: AB 42 and SB 580. Part of the state budget that is in the process of being passed includes a $22 million cut to the Department of Parks and Recreation which will result in some California State Parks being closed. AB 42 would make it so the state park system can contract other non-profits or organizations to manage the closed state parks so they do not go long without proper maintenance and could continue to be open to the public. SB 580 would set high standards for any project that is proposed to use any closed State Park land.

Half of the group, about 100 of us were able to go into the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee to give our support for AB 42. After about 25 of us gave our support, the author of AB 42 Assembly member Huffman asked if the remainder could all come into the room and raise their hands in support because it would probably take another hour to have everyone testify! The bill was successfully passed out of committee and is now on the Assembly Floor. At the same time, there was a group of about 75 people that went to the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee to show their support, this bill was also passed out of committee and is now on the Senate Floor.

Right after the hearing for AB 42, another pieces of legislation that Save Our Shores is in support of came up to the committee, AB 376 which would ban the sale of shark fins in California. I stayed behind with Paul Hobi from the Ocean Conservancy and we both gave our support from our organizations and watched as that too was passed out of committee to go to the Assembly Floor.

Here is Michael Sutton from the Monterey Bay Aquarium giving his support for AB 376.

It was a great day of advocacy and we were very successful in creating a buzz about State Parks around the capitol. If you would like to support AB 42 or SB 580 you can write a letter of support to your local Assembly Member or Senator and tell them why you think State Parks should be saved. Save Our Shores will keep working to keep our California State Parks in great shape for generations to come.

March 22, 2011

Earth Day, Earth Month... What will You do this April?

Less than three months into 2011, Save Our Shores has worked with almost 900 volunteers at 30 cleanups to remove over 4,000 lbs of waste from our beaches, rivers, and creeks in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. Read those numbers again and remember - winter and early spring are our slow seasons at Save Our Shores... we are just gaining momentum for spring, summer and fall, the busy season at Save Our Shores (and our beaches).

As we enter into the month of April, now labeled by many as Earth Month since it contains Earth Day on April 22, what will your commitment be for the earth and for the oceans we love? Will you volunteer at a beach cleanup for the first time or the 10th time? Will you come to your first river cleanup and really get dirty? Will you be a volunteer at the Earth Day Festival in Santa Cruz?

Save Our Shores is committed to being an organization that connects citizens to the ocean and finds ways for them to act out their commitment to protect the earth and the oceans we love. Consider joining us at an Earth Day event in Santa Cruz, or at our monthly cleanup in Monterey County. Express your appreciation for the planet we live on and our beautiful Monterey Bay region. We'll see you at the beach...or on the river...or at Earth Day!

March 15, 2011

The Final Step to Ban the Bag in SC County: Please Submit Your Comments in Support Today!

Take Action to ensure the single-use plastic bag ban is passed in Santa Cruz County!

TODAY is the deadline for submitting formal comments in support of Santa Cruz County's ban on single-use plastic bags, or the Single-Use Bag Reduction Ordinance. Please take a moment to send your support!

Our sample letter is below. Please fax you support letter or comments today to (831) 454-2385.

Because we are expecting negative comments from the plastic industry, it would be incredibly helpful to have as many comments in support of the bag ban as possible. Your comments do not need to be a full letter of support, but please feel free to use the format of our sample letter below:

March 15, 2011

Matt Johnston
Santa Cruz County
701 Ocean Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
FAX (831) 454-2385

RE: Comments supporting the Mitigated Negative Declaration for the Santa Cruz County Single Use Bag Ordinance

Dear Mr. Johnston:

I am writing on behalf of (your name or organization) to give my/our full support for Santa Cruz County’s single use bag reduction ordinance. I am in strong support of the efforts throughout California to establish local bag bans to protect our marine resources because plastic bags negatively affects marine life and can be deadly when plastic bags enter The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

The county’s ordinance addresses the need to move to toward reusable bags by banning plastic bags and placing a fee on paper bags so that the community will be encouraged to bring their own bags to the store. The county’s ordinance also targets all retail stores and restaurants which makes it a comprehensive and effective ban.

It is my hope that you move forward with the ordinance as it is written and that it is put in place as soon as possible.
Thank you for your consideration.


Address and FAX to:

Matt Johnston
Santa Cruz County
(831) 454-3201
701 Ocean Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
FAX (831) 454-2385

Thank you for Taking Action for our oceans!

After the County of Santa Cruz passes their Single-Use Bag Reduction Ordinance, the City of Santa Cruz and Capitola will soon follow. The cities in Monterey County will follow, the County of Monterey will follow, and so on and so forth. It is critical that Santa Cruz County moves forward to pass this ordinance swiftly and will full support of local residents as well as those who simply visit the Monterey Bay area to enjoy it's many natural treasures.

Cleanup Continues at the Santa Cruz Harbor

The cleanup crews are still working hard pulling parts of broken dock and sunken boats from the harbor.

Here is the latest release from the harbor:
"As a result of the damage caused by tsunami surge waves on March 11, 2011, Santa Cruz Harbor has been designated a Coast Guard Safety Zone and is closed to all vessel traffic. This closure will extend at least through Sunday, March 20, 2011, and will be extended, if necessary. Failure to comply with this closure is a Class D felony, carrying civil penalties of up to $25,000." For more information on the specific dock closures go to

Save Our Shores is trying to coordinate a kayak trash and oil cleanup with Kayak Connection to help out any way we can. There are still a lot of small pieces of debris in the harbor and we haven't seen any major oil or fuel spills since Friday but we are really worried about boats leaking pollution. We are still waiting to hear back from the harbor but we will inform the public as soon as we can to let you know what you can do to help.

If you would like to help in other ways, here are some options:
  • To donate to relief in Japan you can text REDCROSS to 90999 and it will add $10 to your phone bill or you can go to or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
  • To donate to the local residents who were displaced when their boat homes were damaged you can make a donation to American Red Cross Santa Cruz Relief Fund, go to or call 1-831-462-2881

March 11, 2011

Scary Day in the Santa Cruz Harbor

This morning around 6:50am the SOS staff received a text message from our Executive Director saying "The harbor is being evacuated, don't go into the office until noon. Let me know if you need anything from the office." Shocked, I sprang out of bed to find out what was going on. As I turned on the TV, I was blown away by the horrible destruction of the earthquake in Japan. The videos looked fake, the ocean's power stripping the land bare.

I soon went to the harbor and witnessed boats and docks sinking in roaring tides rushing in and out of the harbor. The Save Our Shores office was far away from any danger but our friends who owned boats in the harbor were not so lucky. Our hearts go out to those people who lost their boats and for some, their homes in this horrible disaster.

Thank you to everyone for your concern and we encourage you to help those in need who have lost so much whether that is to give to the Red Cross for the people in Japan or to donate food or help to those who lost their boats in the Santa Cruz Harbor. We know the harbor will recover but it is going to take time and support from the Santa Cruz Community.

Save Our Shores is calling for the community to clean the beaches tomorrow morning as there may be some extra debris from the surge. Get a few of your friends and family and help keep our beaches clean.

All of this dock is now gone and this boat sank a few minutes later.

Fuel spills into the harbor near the fuel dock.

The Harbor and Vessel Assist were cleaning up debris all day.

March 8, 2011

Sustainable seafood price check on Aisle 4 please!

Major food retailer Costco has announced that they will no longer be selling 12 red-list or "at risk" species at their stores. Hooorrayyyyy!!!

The species that will be dropped includes Atlantic cod, Atlantic halibut, Chilean sea bass, Greenland halibut, grouper, monkfish, orange roughy, redfish, sharks, skates and rays, swordfish and bluefin tuna. They will still sell farmed salmon (I know, horrible right?) but they will be working to research best practices in aquaculture and fish farming standards. They will also be taking a lead in finding a sustainable form of canned tuna for their stores.

Costco will join such stores as Wal-Mart, Trader Joe's and Target who have strengthened their seafood policies following a wave of pressure from the public. Greenpeace's Supermarket Scorecard showed the ugly side of these stores as they all got extremely low scores on sustainable seafood.

Friend of Save Our Shores and SOS Ocean Hero Award 2010 winner, Casson Trenor, has spearheaded this campaign for sustainable seafood with his work at Greenpeace. Casson says he is very pleased with the direction that Costco is taking but "this isn't perfect, this isn't going to make Costco the best store in the world for buying seafood...but now we've got the company on the right track. Through that purchasing power they're going to be doing positive things for the planet instead of plundering the seas with every dollar."