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Natural Resources and Wildlife

The Port is committed to preserving and improving a vibrant quality of life for people, animals and plant-life.


National Wildlife Refuge sign at the Port of San Diego

Natural Resources & Wildlife

The Port is committed to preserving and improving a vibrant quality of life for people, animals and plant-life. Whether it is habitat preservation or environmentally friendly building design, the Port is committed to a clean environment for all that live, work and play along the shores of San Diego Bay.

Natural Resources Surveys Show Port Progress

The Port and U.S. Navy have been working cooperatively to fund studies of the natural resources of San Diego Bay.  In 2014, a  bay-wide eelgrass survey and a bay-wide fish survey were completed.  During 2009, Vantuna Research Group completed a  bay-wide fisheries inventory and utilization survey  and in 2012, Vantuna Research Group completed a new bay-wide fisheries inventory and utilitzation survey. A follow-up fisheries inventory and utilization study was completed in 2016 to determine what, if any, impacts there were as a result of El Nino. In 2006-07 the first bay-wide avian species survey was conducted. A second bay-wide avian species survey was completed in December 2010. A new 12-month bay-wide avian species survey began in July 2016 and the final report will be available third quarter 2017.

Natural Resources Management Plan

In 2007, the Port and the U.S. Navy embarked on updating the 2002 Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan.  The management plan was revised and edited by a technical advisory committed.  The committee consisted of different agencies and non-governmental organizations including the Regional Water Quality Control Board, Fish and Wildlife Services, National Marine Fisheries Service, Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. National Park Service, Fish and Game, Audubon Society, State Lands Commission and California Coastal Commission. 

The management plan was recently updated and the final document is available here:

September 2013 - FINAL Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan

In September of 2000, the Port and the US Navy Southwest Division prepared a Natural Resource Management Plan for San Diego Bay. The plan is a guide to assist the users of the Bay to make better, more cost-effective decisions about the development, conservation, restoration and management of San Diego Bay. The management plan also catalogues the plant and animal species around the bay and identifies habitat types. The plan was awarded the 2001 Partnership Award by Coastal America and an updated version of the plan is in development.

Eelgrass beds serve as critical refuge and foraging habitat for commercially and recreationally important species at various stages of development. Increases in coastal development, boating, and fishing have caused degradation and loss of eelgrass and other seagrasses worldwide. As a protective measure, policies requiring mitigation for loss of eelgrass have been mandated. Mitigation for the loss of eelgrass involves restoring the impacted bed or planting a new bed.

The Port regularly sponsors studies to evaluate eelgrass restoration techniques in San Diego Bay. Recently, Assistant Professors and graduate students from San Diego State University conducted a study on the effects of habitat structure on fish recruitment and species diversity in eelgrass beds. The project also studied the effects on species density and diversity in native eelgrass beds and where eelgrass has been harvested. Through this study, the Port was seeking knowledge regarding the most effective planting and harvesting schemes that would provide the best results for the bay's ecosystem.

The Port is also involved in several programs to enhance the populations of endangered species inhabiting San Diego Bay. These projects include monitoring Eastern Pacific Green sea turtles, California least terns (through a partnership with the San Diego Zoological Society), Light-footed Clapper Rails (through a partnership with the Chula Vista Nature Center), and salt marsh bird's beak, an endangered coastal plant. Additionally, the Port is involved with the management of invasive species (through a partnership with the Southwest Fisheries Science Center).