The Ocean Protection Council, created by the governor to coordinate state efforts to protect our seas in response to Fred Keely legislation, on Thursday unanimously passed its comprehensive marine debris action plan. This means that a bipartisan California government body has adopted the blueprint for abating California’s contribution to the marine debris crisis. While it doesn’t have the force of law, the plan spells out specific steps the state legislature must take if it is to clean up our oceans.
Despite the fact that 60+ workers from the polystyrene industry were bused in to oppose the plan, the OPC approved the plan with minimal changes.
“The council is confident that this strategy will have far-reaching benefit for ocean health and brings about needed action to tackle the marine debris problems plaguing our oceans,” said OPC Chair and Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman. “Our decision today moves California closer to a real solution to reduce the threats to our ocean and coast.” I think the strong turnout from California’s coastal and zero waste environmental community definitely helped the OPC make the right decision.
I do agree with Chrisman that the OPC’s action moves California forward, although I’m disappointed that the panel eliminated bag bans as an alternative in the plan.
Now the real hard work begins: implementation.
Timelines for implementation need to be developed by the state ASAP and the legislature must use the plan for marine debris legislation in the new year. I know that California and the nation are suffering from an unprecedented fiscal crisis, but the marine debris crisis is only getting worse as we wait to act. Besides, the solutions are all very feasible and can even generate revenue for stormwater pollution and litter reduction programs.