Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Study: LA-LB Harbor Ecosystem Dramatically Improved

By Mark Edward Nero

Years of efforts to reduce environmental impacts related to goods movement have resulted in a flourishing ecosystem for fish and marine mammals, the latest report on the water and habitat quality of the Long Beach and Los Angeles harbors has found.

The ports and resource agencies that oversee wildlife in the harbors use the survey results to evaluate progress in improving the health of the natural resources under their stewardship.

The newest survey, conducted in 2013 and 2014 through an ongoing partnership between the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, identified 558 species of plants and animals living on the rocks and pilings in the harbors. This represents a 60 percent increase from the last survey in 2008 and almost twice the number cataloged in the 2000 survey.

“There’s growing biodiversity in the harbors, including more birds and marine mammals, and we’re seeing species that cannot thrive in polluted waters,” Board of Harbor Commissioners President Lori Ann Guzm├ín said in a Jan. 9 statement. “We should all be proud of these results and continue to work hard to build on this progress.”

Water quality conditions also improved according to the study, with oxygen and phytoplankton measurements higher than ever. Fish were abundant, and giant kelp beds expanded to cover as much as 132 acres of Outer Harbor waters; maximum kelp coverage reached only 27 acres in 2000 and 80 acres in 2008.

The final report and fact sheet for the Biological Harbor Survey are both available on the Port of Long Beach’s website.