Coastal Management Fall 2018

2018 Coastal Opinions

Major Stressors-Pollution (General)


By Philip Patino and Ivan Lorca

A piece of coast has been filled will trash pollution, mostly plastic, where it will eventually lead into wthe ocean (Coastal Care, 2018).


Pollution in the ocean has been a growing concern ever since the “Environmental Movement” in the late 1970’s. It was during this time that the public, researchers/scientist, and the governments of the started to see the effects of wide scale industrialization and the wides amount of trash and air pollution that was caused by it (Vikas, 2015). Whether it be increased smog in the air or mountains of trash ending up on streets and water supplies, efforts to try to reduce the amount of pollution in the air and on land where in full effect. For the most part the problem of pollution seems to decrease on land but this wasn’t true about pollution in the water (Anderson,2018) (Denchak, 2018) (Vikas, 2015).

Today similar issues of pollution have risen but the efforts are primarily focus on the ocean. The reason why is because of the increased depletion of ocean resources that are occuring; ecosystems collapsing, “dead” seas, coral bleaching (Lacoue-Labarthe, 2016). Unfortunately the coast & ocean ecosystems accumulate millions of tons of trash pollution and intakes millions of more tons of air pollution every year (Lacoue-Labarthe, 2016) (Anderson, 2018). And today governments of the world are seeing this at an alarming rate, yet no steady remedy to the problem has been proposed. Although efforts are being mounted to try and combat pollution from entering into the ocean, the change need to start closer to home, in our literal homes (Denchak, 2018) (Vikas, 2015). The public needs to pursue ways to engage in combating pollution and do their part while also asking for change in government and business structures (ANderson, 2018).

Overview of Current Situation

The definition of pollution is “the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance or thing that has harmful or poisonous effects”, originating either from za point source or a non-point source (Anderson, 2018) (Vikas, 2015). There are many different forms of pollution; most common and most talked about is air pollution, usually CO2/Methane gas, and trash pollution, with plastic being the most abundant. Commonly air pollution is most talked about when referring to major cities and counties, where as trash pollution is seen as a bigger threat to the ocean and wildlife (Denchak, 2018). Unfortunately what is closer to the truth is that air and land pollution can occupy the same same both in water and in land, However it is when both are in water that exacerbated effects are seen (Anderson, 2018) (NOAA, 2018). Some of the common sources of pollution are oil rigs spillage and excess trash littering (Plastic).There are also non point source pollution which is pollution that isn’t from an exact entity, such as air pollution and some fertilizer runoff, etc. All which lead to ocean ecosystems collapses, ocean acidification, ocean oxidation, and also human health impacts.

A recent article measured that in 2015 alone there were an estimated 300 million tons of plastic being produced worldwide, with about 20 million tons of plastic being ending up in the ocean annually (LeGuem, 2018). This number is expected to be on the low side but the issue with plastic is that it is no biodegradable. Plastic has been engineered to be durable and never break, this form of engineering may be beneficial to those of use who drink water bottles for convenience, but the harmful effects to both ecosystem, species and human health have become very alarming (Denchak, 2018). Trash pollution including plastic, has been affecting ocean ecosystem via animal congestion. Most sea life cannot distinguish between pieces of plastic and food sources, leaving fish and whale species ingesting millions of tons of plastic, eventually leading to death. (Denchak, 2018) (LeGuem, 2018). Pollution is also killing ecosystems, such as coral reefs, that are reliant on fish species and have not been able to adapt to the increase pollution (NOAA, 2018).

Other forms of pollution such as air pollution, and land runoff has also disturbed many ecosystems in the ocean. The biggest one getting a lot of press are the acidification of coral reefs around the world (Lacoue-Labarthe, 2016). Not only are beautiful corals reef being bleached and killed, by run off pollution excess carbon in the air or oil spill, their depletion also affects human health and the world economy. Pollution from runoff and the air is essentially soaked up into the ocean as a way to regulate some of earth’s systems (Lacoue-Labarthe, 2016). Unfortunately if excess amounts of pollution enters the ocean it can harm fish species and poison the very food we eat. Mercury and Lead poisoning are some examples of toxic pollutants that are found in fish that have been recorded to come from fertilizer and sediment runoff (Lacoue-Labarthe, 2016) (NOAA, 2018).

This increase of pollution and harming of the ocean, coast and human health has spawn increased research and development from entrepreneurs and governments to fight this ongoing problem. Media and news since the last election in the US in 2016 has also increased its circulation of the matter. It seems that public awareness of the issue is high. But still questions of how much the public knows or are aware of the issue are mainly unknown. This spawned the public option questionnaire (Anderson, 2018). In conducting the surveys we hypothesis:

1: People care and want to know how to clean up the pollution in the ocean no matter the demographics, etc.

2: The public is unaware of what the biggest cause of ocean pollution and have limited knowledge of the management strategies that are and could be implement to achieve less ocean pollution.

In the next sections we analyze and interpret results to test the hypothesis, testing whether or not it is true.


Out of the 40+ questionnaire that we distributed to over 1200 county residence in Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, seven of our questions assess attitudes towards Pollution. The questions are geared to either pollution in general, types of pollution (Oil spills, plastic, etc.), and management of ocean. The questions are displayed below (Anderson, 2018):

  1. Global Climate Change is a major problem we need to address now.

__Agree __Disagree __I don’t know

  1. How much of a threat to California’s coastal areas (beaches, oceans, estuaries, etc.) are the following: (Ranked 1-4; with 1= greatest and 4= lowest threat)

__Pollution __Exotic Plants & Animals __Excessive hunting/fishing/collecting __Habitat Destruction/Fragmentation

  1. The health of California’s coastal ocean is better now than in the 1950s.

__Agree __Disagree __Unsure

  1. California’s marine fisheries are healthier and more abundant now than in the 1950s.

__Agree __Disagree __Unsure

  1. What is the best way to move the oil we extract from the Santa Barbara Channel to refineries?

__Ships __Trucks __Pipelines __Other __Unsure

  1. Offshore oil drilling off of the California coast should be:

__Expanded __Continued __Reduced __Eliminated __Unsure


Question 7, 18, 20

Here on this graph we see that the majority of people believe climate change is a major problem that we need to address now. This also helps know that the general public knows that the state of California’s coast has gotten worse shown in Question 18. It also shows that California’s fisheries are less healthy than what they used to be.

Question 14

On this bar graph we have an average rank on how much of a threat to California’s coastal areas (beaches, oceans, estuaries, etc.) are. The rank is based on 1 being the greatest threat and 4 being the least. The majority if the public feels that pollution is the greatest threat to California’s coastal areas with an average rank of 1.5. The next major threat is habitat destruction followed by excessive hunting with an average rank of 2.2 and exotic species which is the least threatening to the California coast with an average rank of 3.

Question 41

On this graph, 51% public was unsure how to move oil we extract from Santa Barbara. This is of course a major issue as pipelines, ships, trucks all create some kind of pollution. Though the 20% of the public did think moving oil through pipelines was the best option with ships at 14% and trucks at 10%.

Question 42

In this graph 29% of people were unsure on whether to reduce, eliminate, continue, or expand offshore oil drilling. There is a consensus that we should reduce or eliminate offshore oil drilling. 20% of people do think we should continue but a small 5% think we should expand offshore oil drilling.


This public opinion questionnaire surveyed many different people in at least three different counties, mainly Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. This helped reduce any bias opinions so that we can obtain accurate results. Although it was difficult to remove the bias that these counties are all coastal counties so it seems this these answers from these questions swing to one side.

  • Majority think pollution is bad

According to the survey results, many people felt pollution was the number one coastal issue that we have. This is because 48% of the people we surveyed said that the health of the California coast and ocean hasn’t gotten any better. Though there is uncertainty whether seafood around certain areas of the globe are safe to be consumed by humans. The major problem is that people really don’t know how to solve these issues as a majority of the people that were surveyed were unsure.

  • Oil Spills Creating Pollution

Surprisingly the average number of people were neutral when it came to the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill. Meaning they didn’t think it was it was a positive or negative impact. Not only were they neutral but they were unsure whether to expand, continue, reduce or eliminate California offshore oil drilling. Though a good majority said we should reduce or eliminate offshore oil drilling off the coast of California. Continuing offshore drilling would increase the likelihood of oil spills that would in turn create a polluted ocean and coast.

Key Takeaway

The current public opinion on pollution are that people think pollution is a top threat to the coast. The majority people support the idea of cleaner, healthier coasts and oceans.


Anderson, S. 2018. Oceanography Summary. Given at CSUCI on Oct. 5

Anderson, S. 2018. Heterogeneous Structure of Ocean. Given at CSUCI on Oct 12.

Anderson, S. 2018. Survey Instrument 12.3 “Public Opinion Polls”. https://coastalwiki.piratelab.org/opinion-poll/12_3/

Bellwood, B.R., T. P. Hughes, C. Folke, M. Nyström. 2004. Confronting the coral reef crisis. Nature. volume 429, pages 827–833.https://www.nature.com/articles/nature02691

Denchak, M. 2018. Ocean Pollution: The Dirty Facts. Retrieved from https://www.nrdc.org/stories/ocean-pollution-dirty-facts

Kennish, J. 1997. Practical handbook of estuarine and marine pollution. CRC Press, Inc. https://www.crcpress.com/Practical-Handbook-of-Estuarine-and-Marine-Pollution/Kennish/p/book/9780849384240 

Lacoue-Labarthe, T., Nunes, P. A., Ziveri, P., Cinar, M., Gazeau, F., Hall-Spencer, J. M., . . . Turley, C. 2016. Impacts of ocean acidification in a warming Mediterranean Sea: An overview. Regional Studies in Marine Science,5, 1-11. doi:10.1016/j.rsma.2015.12.005 

LeGuem, C. (2018, March). Plastic Pollution. Retrieved from http://coastalcare.org/2009/11/plastic-pollution/ 

NOAA. 2018. Ocean pollution. Retrieved from https://www.noaa.gov/resource-collections/ocean-pollution 

Vikas, M., & Dwarakish, G. 2015. Coastal Pollution: A Review. Aquatic Procedia,4, 381-388. doi:10.1016/j.aqpro.2015.02.051