Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach to survey marine habitats

The two harbors will jointly fund biological studies of natural environments within local waters.

LOS ANGELES — One of the world’s largest port districts will spend a combined $1.3 million to perform biological surveys of local marine habitat.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will share the costs of hiring AMEC Foster Wheeler Environment and Infrastructure to study the marine habitat within the combined harbor, according to a city of Los Angeles staff report.

Studying marine habitats in the Port of Los Angeles has been done periodically since 1983. Information from the surveys, according to Los Angeles city staff, “have been used in [California Environmental Quality Act] and National Environmental Protection Act documents for biological coordination and mitigation activities, plans, and projects.”

Surveys specifically look at kelp, eelgrass, plankton, fish, benthic animals and marine birds and mammals. Port district officials also use the surveys to address the presence of invasive species.

“The Port [of Los Angeles] states that an accurate understanding of the biological conditions of its marine habitat help the [Los Angeles Harbor] Department negotiate and obtain approval for biological mitigation measures with various regulatory and resources agencies that interact with and oversee the [Port of Los Angeles] (i.e., the Environmental Protection Agency),” Los Angeles city staff stated in a report to council members. “POLA, [Port of Long Beach] and various state and federal agencies contend that these harbor-wide biological surveys are needed to maintain up-to-date information on the harbors.”

Both port districts will pay AMEC $1.3 million for the biological surveys, which will be conducted over a four-year period. The Port of Los Angeles will pay $676,000, while the Port of Long Beach is responsible for the remaining $624,000.

POLA is paying slightly more – 52 percent – to conduct additional samplings within its harbor and marine habitats.

“AMEC will conduct a comprehensive study to determine the biological characteristics of the POLA and POLB harbors and apply certain statistical methods on scientific relationships within the habitats and regions of the harbors,” Los Angeles city staff stated. “In addition, AMEC will prepare reports on biological surveys sampling efforts to inform the Port and to answer requests by the public and other interested stakeholders.”

Marine habitats at Los Angeles Harbor have been documented since the 1950s, according to the Port of Los Angeles staff. Both port districts have jointly performed biological surveys of marine habitats since 2000.

Los Angeles’ City Council approved the budget request at its Nov. 21 meeting.

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