San Diego Port News

Contact: Marguerite Elicone (619) 686-6222

Third Round of Environmental Projects Gets the Okay from Board of Port Commissioners

Eelgrass beds, ballast water treatment options and green sea turtles included in studies

August 8, 2007 Ė Eight months after the Board of Port Commissioners approved its first list of projects to be funded through the Port of San Diego Environmental Fund, a third set of environmental projects is now set to move forward.

This latest round of projects brings the number of environmental projects initiated by the Portís Environmental Policy Committee, established in June 2006, to 26. These projects will allow the Port to continue its efforts to improve the health of San Diego Bay and the tidelands. The eight approved projects will have an estimated total cost of $539,981.

To qualify for funding from the Port, a project must be reviewed by the Portís Environmental Policy Committee, a group consisting of representatives from various resources, regulatory and advocacy groups, and Port tenants.

Eligible projects should have elements that will create or restore habitat, improve air, water and sediment quality in and around the Bay, improve energy conservation, enhance the publicís enjoyment of the Bay without impacting the environment, increase environmental education, and improve environmental decision making.

Projects also must involve San Diego Bay and its surrounding tidelands. In this latest round, Wildcoast, a nonprofit organization, was awarded $50,000 to continue conservation efforts of the endangered Eastern Pacific Green Sea Turtle. The species resides in South San Diego Bay. As part of its funding, Wildcoast would educate the public on the health risks associated with ocean pollution.

Another recipient of the environmental funding is San Diego State University, which will be working with National Marine Fisheries Service on a study that would use isotopes and element analysis to understand what kind of impacts natureís food chain, as well as contaminants, might have on threatened or endangered species in San Diego Bay. This study will cost approximately $94,823.

San Diego State University also will conduct two separate projects involving eelgrass. One project entails conducting research on maintaining healthy eelgrass beds and how fish habitat, the food chain and ecosystems are related. This project will cost $47,768.

The other San Diego State University project will assess the eelgrass habitat function as it relates to recreational fishing. This project will cost approximately $137,203.

San Diego Coastkeeper was awarded $15,000 to conduct four cleanup projects in South San Diego Bay. Three of these cleanups will take place in the watersheds that flow into San Diego Bay and one will take place along the bayís shoreline. This project also entails educating the public on pollution in an effort to prevent further debris from entering the bay as well as monitoring and reporting how much debris is collected.

MH Systems, Inc., in conjunction with Scripps Institution of Oceanography, will receive approximately $100,000 to test ballast water treatment options on the oceanographic research vessel, R/V Melville. Ballast water is water that is taken in by a vessel at one port while the shipís weight is lessened by cargo unloading.

The water is usually discharged at another port when the shipís weight increases as it receives new cargo. Organisms taken in at the port where unloading takes place are discharged with the water at the loading port. These non-indigenous species often compete with the native species (for space, food, etc.), threatening the survival of the native species.

The Port will begin implementing many of the projects next month. To find out more about the environmental projects and the Portís Environmental Policy, log on to http://www.portofsandiego.org/sandiego_environment/.

The Port of San Diego is a public benefit corporation and special government entity. Created in 1963 by an act of the California legislature, the Port manages San Diego harbor and administers the public lands along San Diego Bay.

The Port has operated without tax dollars since 1970 and has been responsible for $1.5 billion in public improvements in its five member cities Ė Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City and San Diego.

With a $10.6 billion economic impact on the San Diego region, the Port oversees two maritime cargo terminals, a cruise ship terminal, 16 public parks, various wildlife reserves and environmental initiatives, a Harbor Police department and the leases of over 600 tenant businesses around San Diego Bay.