It is obvious to most anglers in the southern regions of California that the fishery is ever-changing. The presence of warmer waters, different species and their longer presence in the area are the most prominent. Many effects have been positive and have resulted in some great stories and fishing trips. Through all the positives, there has been a lurking issue becoming more of a concern.
Southern California is home to the largest kelp forests on the west coast. They provide refuge to countless species including Yellowtail, Kelp Bass (or Calico), as well as the threatened White and Black Sea Bass to name a few. They are highly essential to the fisheries and cornerstones of the local fishing industry.
Not too long ago, these kelp forests were bountiful. They would cover a large amount of the rocky shorelines and reefs, branching out across the surface for miles. Over the past few years, there has been a rapid decline in kelp presence.
Why are kelp forests disappearing?
To keep it short and sweet, kelp forests thrive on nitrogen in the waters. Nitrogen is much more prevalent with cooler ocean temperatures. Over the past few years, we have seen a rise in temperatures in this area. Warmer water means less Nitrate and more CO2, which hurts the growth rate of kelp.
Kelp grows quite quickly given the proper conditions. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do by means of protected areas or conservation to speed up the recovery process. It is strictly reliant on water conditions.
(Point Loma Kelp Forest in 2014)