Binational workshop on kelp ecosystems and their fisheries.


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Nature crosses man-made political boundaries. If we are to manage and conserve nature we must collaborate across these boundaries between nations. The management of the Earth’s shared ecosystems must evolve across state, country and international borders. The California Current system is one of the most productive bodies of coastal water on the planet and home to some of the biggest kelp forests in the world. This system is shared by California (the United States) and Baja California (Mexico), and steps need to be taken to address this common shared ecosystem.


With a bi-national vision and under the new UC-Mexico initiative, earlier this month marine scientists from Mexico and the US came together in Ensenada, Baja California to discuss directions for the future of the California Current’s kelp ecosystems. The “Binational initiative of coastal ecosystems and fisheries in the climate change scenario” workshop’s aim was to create a cohesive interdisciplinary team of researchers to evaluate the ecosystem services of the coastal area throughout the California Current system. Researchers from the Autonomous University of Baja California, CICESE, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego State University, University of California Santa Barbara and Stanford University all participated in the 2-day workshop.

Kelp workshop 1_feb 2016
Workshop participants, top row (L to R): Max Castorani, Matt Edwards, Ed Parnell, Guillermo Torres, Gabriela Montaño, Fio Michelli, Andrew Johnson, Arturo Ramírez, Julio Palleiro; bottom row (L to R): Octavio Aburto, Oscar Sosa, Rodrigo Beas, Nur Arafeh. Photo: GCMP

During the meeting, each group presented the progress of their own research projects relating to the kelp forest ecosystems of Baja and the Pacific US. Project objectives included understanding the responses and adaptations of to climate variability, how fisheries will change in response to variable kelp populations and what value kelp forests have for human populations. Following discussions on methods to continue in an interdisciplinary manner, the skeleton structure of a white paper was sketched out ready for each researcher’s unique contributions to the 8 different sections that were noted (See picture below).

The outline of a white paper was written and we are ready for each researcher’s unique contributions. Photo: GCMP
The outline of a white paper was written and we are ready for each researcher’s unique contributions. Photo: GCMP


This was an enriching academic exercise, and we were able to set the foundation for future bi-national collaboration, the formation of the white paper (which will be finished by June) and (we hope) future advice for managers and policy makers working in the conservation and management of Pacific kelp ecosystems.


The attendees to the workshop were:

Octavio Aburto Oropeza, Scripps Institution of Oceanography-UCSD

Fiorenza Micheli, Stanford University

Max Castorani, UC Santa Barbara

Matt Edwards, San Diego State University

Ed Parnell, Scripps Institution of Oceanography-UCSD

Guillermo Torres, Universidad Autonoma de Baja California

Jose Zertuche, Universidad Autonoma de Baja California

Gabriela Montaño, Universidad Autonoma de Baja California

Julio Palleiro, Instituto Nacional de Pesca

Oscar Sosa,  Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada (CICESE)

Rodrigo Beas, Universidad Autonoma de Baja California

Nur Arafeh, Universidad Autonoma de Baja California

Andrew F. Johnson, Scripps Institution of Oceanography-UCSD

Arturo Ramírez-Valdez, Scripps Institution of Oceanography-UCSD



Arturo Ramirez is a PhD student in Marine Biology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. His research involves a blend of quantitative and empirical approaches to marine conservation, biodiversity assessment, biogeography, and fisheries management. He is now working in a project to determine the ecological value and economic importance of the kelp forests in the Southern California Bight, based on their contribution to economies in USA and Mexico including: the commercial and recreational fisheries, recreational activities, coastal protection and their susceptibility to climate change and human-induced degradation.

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