Hopefully the skies have opened and the rain is falling as you’re reading this. Because all that clear weather you’ve been raving about as gorgeous sunrises give way to spectacular sunsets with night after night of big, fat glowing moon action? Signs of an abnormally dry winter, the cost of which remains uncertain.

In more news of things you shouldn’t approach with confidence, please note that when you order fish at a restaurant or select a fillet at the grocery store, you may or may not be getting what you think. Southern Californians in particular are likely to be misled, while Seattle-ites are best able to trust their sources. So here we are, smack dab in the middle and wondering how to tell a fish from a fish!

One solution: Buy local. We have a hardworking fishing fleet dedicated to bringing you the best seafood the North Coast has to offer (aka “the best seafood”). Why eat fish from anywhere else? 

Regular readers who pay attention to ocean issues know that the North Coast Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) were implemented in December. The process of deciding what to monitor and how is underway. Eventually we’ll have boatloads of data informing us of the health of our ocean, our fisheries and how the MPAs are working. Happening right now, State of the California Central Coast, the first look at the Central Coast baseline monitoring results.

Scientists have been studying the MPAs from Point Conception north to Pigeon Point since 2007, when the MPAs were established, in an effort to characterize their baseline condition and asses ecosystem changes. The symposium carries through till Friday and includes representation from Humboldt State University, Eureka’s California Fish & Wildlife Dept., commercial fishermen, several North Coast tribes and area environmentalists. The Contra Costa Times notes:

In the first major study of its kind, scientists have found that populations and sizes of several key species of fish, along with starfish, urchins, crabs and other sea life, have increased more in the protected areas established in 2007 between San Mateo and Santa Barbara counties than in unprotected ocean areas nearby.

Follow along on Twitter.

Jennifer Savage is Ocean Conservancy’s North Coast Coordinator, Pacific Programs and also chairs the Humboldt chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.