University research initiative at Marina del Rey approved by L.A. County

Supervisors grant UCLA free docking for its Marine Operations Program.

LOS ANGELES — A corner of Marina del Rey’s harbor will be used for educational and research purposes, as the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved UCLA’s request to use the waterfront for its Marine Operations Program; the proposal was green-lit July 25.

The university’s Marine Operations Program will be used to ultimately train students to become boat operators and ocean data collectors. Students, according to county staff, would be expected to go on to pursue “smaller practical ocean data collection projects in Santa Monica Bay and nearby coastal areas.”

UCLA would place its Kodiak boat in the harbor as part of its education and research program. The program would conduct field trips for oceanography classes, offer opportunities for students to perform thesis work and allow faculty and research staff to conduct various studies.

About 70 percent of the vessel’s usage would be for educational activities; the Kodiak would be used for research activities all other times.

County staff and supervisors also hoped UCLA would make its boat and the department’s staff available for educational youth trips under the Department of Beaches and Harbors’ Water Awareness, Training, Education and Recreation (WATER) program. The WATER program offers sailing courses, ocean safety demonstrations and youth sailing camps.

UCLA and county staff will discuss such a relationship once the Marine Operations Program is implemented, according to a county report.

The Kodiak boat could be docked at Anchorage 47, a transient slip or inside one of the county’s boat storage venues. Use of such facilities would be offered to UCLA at no cost.

County resident Eric Previn questioned why supervisors are providing UCLA with a free slip.

“The UCLA Kodiak boat is getting a free slip, which I don’t understand. [Are] all boats that use children … also getting a free slip,” Previn asked supervisors. “Is it because it’s the alma mater of [Supervisor Sheila Kuehl]? I certainly hope not.”

The research university chose Marina del Rey due to its close proximity to Westwood, where UCLA is based. Los Angeles Harbor in San Pedro is also large enough to house the Kodiak but is farther south.

UCLA, however, is involved with AltaSea, a marine research center at the Port of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles County also offers marine science and education programs geared toward students. The county’s Marine Sciences Programs, which is based at the Outdoor and Marine Education office in Downey, offers floating laboratories, ocean life presentations and other educational curricula.

Marine field trips would also be available to students through Aquarium of the Pacific, Ballona Creek Renaissance, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Center for Marine Studies, Long Beach Marine Institute, Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education, Ocean Conservation Society, Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium as well as Santa Monica Pier Aquarium and Sea Lab.

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