The situation has gone from bad to worse in Monterey. Healthy kelp forests have less than two Purple Sea Urchins per square meter. Now purple urchin populations have exploded to 21 per square meter! Even more alarming is the new generation of tiny urchins that settled on our rocky reefs last fall.
Petition 2020-001 asks to allow recreational divers with a fishing license to remove 40 gallons per diver per day from limited areas in Monterey. Our goal is to reduce urchin populations to their normal, sustainable level so kelp forests can re-grow. All divers are encouraged to sign up for the newsletter to be notified of opportunities to participate in removal efforts. Students and Military can apply for free fishing licenses. Complete text of Petition 2020-001 >
Petition 2020-001 has been amended to focus urchin removal efforts on Lovers Cove & Tanker's Reef. Both locations have historically supported rich kelp forest ecosystems, but now have extraordinarily high urchin density and very little kelp.
Tanker’s Reef has in past years been a giant kelp forest of about 20 acres. The shale reefs here have become urchin barrens with no kelp canopy.
Tanker’s reef is not in a Marine Protected Area and has easy access via a wide, sandy beach and has ample parking for divers.
This location is normally in the wave shadow of Point Pinos and the Breakwater jetty, making it diveable in all but the most severe conditions from boat or from shore.The urchin barren is a shallow 30 to 40 feet depth which makes it an easy, safe recreational dive.
Lovers Cove supported one of the richest kelp forests in southern Monterey Bay until 2017, when it was decimated by urchins. There is only one small kelp stand remaining on the granite reefs near the entrance to the cove. The plan is to remove urchins and restore kelp on the west side. The lone remaining kelp hopefully can re-seed the cove.