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We support InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council's proposal for a commercial kelp harvest ban

InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council's proposal for a 10-year moratorium on commercial harvest of bull kelp, giant kelp, and sea palm can be viewed here on their website. The following is our letter to the Marine Resources Committee of California Department of Fish and Wildlife in support of the Sinkyone Council's proposal:

18 July, 2021

Dear Marine Resources Committee,

The Mendocino County Chapter of Surfrider Foundation fully supports the proposal from the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council for CDFW to amend commercial harvest rules for kelp.

The protection and restoration of California’s kelp forests has emerged as a top priority for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  Our Surfrider chapter agrees with the Sinkyone Council that there should be an emergency moratorium on the commercial harvest of all bull kelp within state waters. This is a species that our chapter and many other NGOs, Tribes, scientific and academic communities, and citizen scientists have been working actively to protect and restore since the beginning of its collapse in 2016. We are seeing a very slow but hopeful rate of bounce-back, and it would be a travesty to have that diminished because of overzealous commercial harvesting.

We also agree that protections need to be enforced for all giant kelp and sea palm within state waters by halting commercial harvest for at least 10 years.  Sea palm is protected and illegal to harvest in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, and needs to be protected in California to be given a chance to bounce back from over-harvesting.

In response to The Second Process in the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council’s proposal, our chapter supports the necessity of a separate category of “Tribal Cultural Tending and Gathering” that would allow Indigenous communities to harvest seaweed for the continuation of their cultural lifeways, including food and medicinal purposes.  It is insulting, restrictive, and a financial hardship that Tribal Nations have had to harvest under the limitations of a recreational permit.

Recovery of bull kelp forests and the diverse ecosystem they support will take time. Thus, the moratorium on bull kelp, giant kelp, and sea palm harvesting is needed to allow for recovery and protection of surviving specimens.  Ongoing consultations with Tribal Nations will be an essential part of this recovery.


Nicole Paisley Martensen

Surfrider Foundation - Mendocino County Chapter Chair