The Humboldt Bay Initiative (HBI) is the result of the collaborative efforts of scientists and resource managers working and living in the Humboldt Bay region to work towards an ecosystem-based management (EBM) approach to resource management. EBM emphasizes collaborative, science-based management, sustainability, ecological health and inclusion of humans in the ecosystem. In 2006, with initial funding from the California State Coastal Conservancy, a group of scientists, resource managers, and local stakeholders in the Humboldt Bay area established a science Advisory Team to explore an EBM approach to resource management; these efforts continued in 2008 with funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to conduct a formal strategic planning process in Humboldt Bay. We engaged in many hours of meetings, extensive collaboration with local stakeholders, discussions with regional and statewide programs and partners with similar goals and aspirations. Through our own blend of scientific understanding and conviction that local resource management needs a strong scientific foundation and local leadership, we proposed a set of strategies outlined in our Strategic Plan to promote productive and resilient ecosystems that can help ensure a healthy and sustainable future for Humboldt Bay’s natural and human communities.
The immediate precursor of HBI, the Humboldt Bay Ecosystem Program, was created in 2006 by a group of resource managers and scientists who were inspired by a unique combination of planning, community involvement, national, state and local policy. Humboldt Bay Watershed Plan and Humboldt Bay Management Plan were developed concurrently between 2002 and 2006. Because many people participated in both processes, awareness emerged of the need to integrate issues common to both plans. At the national level, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission completed ocean policy plans in 2003 and 2004. A compelling concept in these plans was the recommendation for an ecosystem-based management (EBM) approach to coastal and ocean management. California responded definitively to the national ocean policy plans and passed the Ocean Protection Act in September 2004. Ecosystem-based management is a priority of the Ocean Protection Council Strategic Plan. The West Coast Governor’s Agreement on Ocean Health, signed in September 2006, places ecosystem-based management among its priorities and organizing concepts.