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Learning to Properly Restore Marine Habitats

January 07, 2003

I was saddened to read about Rodolphe Streichenberger's misguided crusade to dump trash in our ocean as a noble David-versus-Goliath struggle (Jan. 3). This David is portrayed as "wanting only [a] sea solution." Although restoration of habitats in our coastal waters is important and noble, it is highly irresponsible to place old tires or plastic pipes into the ocean as substrates on which to grow kelp or other sea life. Our ocean has a natural substrate. It is called rock. If we place tires in our ocean to grow marine life, then what is next?

Other more environmentally friendly methods are available for restoring marine habitats. Throughout Southern California, the California Coastkeeper Alliance is restoring kelp forests. At a central laboratory in Terminal Island and in portable eco-Karts placed in classrooms from Santa Barbara to San Diego, kelp is grown on small, nontoxic ceramic tiles. When the kelp grows to several inches, the tiles are attached to local rocky reefs using rubber bands. After the kelp has grown large enough to attach to the natural rocky substrate, the rubber bands and tiles are removed from the ocean and the kelp grows into giants. We should applaud and support the efforts of the Coastal Commission to protect the natural beauty of our coast before we all start throwing our old kitchen sinks off the local pier in the name of conservation.

Brian Machovina

Executive Director

California Coastkeeper

Alliance, Santa Monica

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