North Coast Tribes Add to MPA Monitoring
PHOTO: Tolowa Dee-ni' drying smelt along the ocean near Smith River. The California Ocean Protection Council has announced science grants for ten projects to monitor the North Coast marine protected areas. Scientists, fishermen, citizen volunteers, and for the first time, tribal governments, will work together to develop a baseline of ocean conditions and human uses. Photo Credit: Smith River Rancheria.
December 17, 2013
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The state is announcing nearly a dozen science grants to monitor the North Coast marine protected areas. For the first time, the baseline monitoring program will include tribal knowledge and perspectives. Through a collaboration among four tribes, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) will be gathered through interviews and archival research to better understand the historical and current ocean conditions in the region.
According to Megan Rocha with Smith River Rancheria, a tribal government, North Coast tribes have a rich knowledge on the coastal environment that's been passed down from generation to generation.
"This project's really unique because it allows for a tribal voice to really be heard in a way that allows the tribe to be involved on the ground and monitoring and integrating traditional knowledge into the process," she said.
The North Coast MPA Baseline Program is overseen by a partnership among the California Ocean Protection Council, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Ocean Science Trust and California Sea Grant.
Smith River Rancheria will lead the project, in partnership with the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, Trinidad Rancheria and the Wiyot Tribe to ensure that the whole North Coast region is represented.
"What we're really focusing on is observations of species that are both ecologically and culturally important," Rocha said. "And then also getting an assessment of areas of potential concern or threat that the tribal members may have, and then also getting their perception on the new tribal take regulation."
Rocha said the project also is important because it is completely tribally-driven and relies on an approach that respects the cultural and political sovereignty of each participating tribe.
Visit California Sea Grant for additional project information.