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PD Staff
07-31-2011, 09:25 PM
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Dock Attendant Joe Monroe removes invasive kelp from South Beach Harbor, which is wedged between sites that will be used for America's Cup activities
© John Upton The Bay Citizen

The Bay Citizen Reports On the Following


An underwater invader is taking the wind out of the sails of the America's Cup.

Regulators have refused to issue permits necessary for the sailing regatta to move forward until organizers can prove the event won't significantly spread invasive seaweed through San Francisco Bay.

Concerns over exotic seaweed, including Undaria pinnatifida, a fast-growing Asian species that reaches 10 feet and poses dangers to native kelp species, prompted the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board on Friday to seek more information on a 107-page permit application filed late last month by the Port of San Francisco.

The seaweed has taken root beneath some piers in San Francisco and could spread on the hulls of spectator boats as they enter and move around the bay.

To reduce those risks, the Port had proposed an educational campaign that would alert boaters to the dangers of the seaweed and of the importance of keeping hulls clean of plants.

But that proposal was not enough to satisfy the state.


“[T]he information in the application is insufficient to determine whether the outreach program will sufficiently mitigate for potential invasive species impacts from spectator boats,” Watershed Division Chief Shin-Roei Lee wrote in a letter to Port and America's Cup officials.


If it appears that it will be impossible to prevent the spread of the seaweed, Lee wrote, then the Port and America's Cup Event Authority will need to propose compensation, such as providing funds to an invasive species eradication program.

Port environmental regulatory official Kelley Capone said her agency is coordinating with environmentalists to prepare a better plan for defending against the spread of the marine scourge.

“This is something that hasn’t been formally regulated before,” Capone said. “Maybe there are steps that people can take to wash out their boats.”

One of the ways the seaweed could spread is during demolition of infected piers, because such work is expected to release spores into the bay that could drift and establish new populations, according to Capone. Construction workers could be trained to identify the seaweed, and fine mesh might be draped around infected piers when they are demolished, she said.

The water board also said the Port’s plan for removing old pier pilings as new docks are built was not specific enough, and criticized the Port for failing to outline the level and source of funding it will provide for research into the effects of dredging some parts of the bay.

The board also directed event organizers to develop a strategy for preventing visiting boaters from dumping fresh water or pollution into the bay.


The nonprofit San Francisco Baykeeper praised the Water Board’s hard line.

“We are pleased with the regional board’s position,” Baykeeper Executive Director Deb Self said. “The city simply must provide adequate detail on how it will prevent and mitigate impacts to the shoreline and water quality of the bay.”

Capone also commended the water board members for their diligence. "They’re not just pushing anything through, which is good," she said.

She said the Port expects to respond to the board's letter in the coming weeks.

Source: The Bay Citizen (http://s.tt/12UYD)

bowline
08-02-2011, 08:18 PM
In a word, no.

Sanity Check
08-02-2011, 09:20 PM
Think me a conspiracy-theorist, but to me this is precisely the kind of nonsensical rubbish story which is promoted by those who have great animosity toward good environmental stewardship... like the idea of tearing down the Hetch Hetchy valley's O'Shaughnessy Dam.

bowline
08-03-2011, 11:54 PM
As long as it remains a story we're ok.