Accelerating Kelp Research and Restoration in California: 2024 Request for Proposals

Close-up image of Giant Kelp. Image credit - Kristen Elsmore
Funding Category
Grants and Funding
Application Deadline
Proposal Budget Help:
Proposal Contact:
Focus Area(s)
Healthy Coastal Ecosystems


July 25, 2023 – 1:00 pm PT: RFP Informational Webinar (Optional)
August 15, 2023 – 5:00 pm PT: Letter of Intent due to eSeaGrant
October 3, 2023 – 5:00 pm PT: Full proposals due to eSeaGrant 
*Only applicants who have submitted a letter of intent may submit a full proposal.

Header Image Credit: K. Elsmore


Kelp forests are fundamental to California’s marine biodiversity and its ocean economy. However, kelp is also under threat as ocean conditions change. California’s north coast has experienced devastating kelp loss following a recent marine heat wave; some areas on California’s central and south coasts are experiencing significant declines as well.

In 2021, the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) released a Kelp Action Plan containing strategies and opportunities to address the kelp crisis proactively. This included the launch of a statewide Kelp Recovery Research Program, through which OPC and California Sea Grant, in coordination with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), solicited proposals for projects that would directly inform the efforts of resource managers to protect and restore kelp ecosystems statewide. OPC, California Sea Grant, and CDFW only considered funding for “solutions-oriented” projects that would directly contribute to the recovery of California kelp ecosystems and coastal communities, and inform management approaches for protecting and restoring kelp ecosystems. The Kelp Recovery Research Program has proven invaluable in filling knowledge gaps, but significant scientific, policy, and management questions remain.

OPC, California Sea Grant, and CDFW are now soliciting proposals for projects that will accelerate and scale up kelp research and restoration in California to address remaining research needs, support action while a statewide Kelp Restoration and Management Plan (KRMP) is being developed by CDFW, and promote a “learn by doing” approach to kelp conservation.


OPC’s mission is to protect California’s coast and ocean by advancing innovative, science-based policy and management, making strategic investments, and catalyzing action through partnerships and collaboration. One of the many ways in which OPC advances its strategic goals is by supporting innovative research that directly informs and improves the stewardship of ocean and coastal resources. OPC’s Strategic Plan to Protect California’s Coast and Ocean 2020-2025 includes the protection and restoration of kelp forests as an explicit objective under Strategic Goal 3: Enhance Coastal and Marine Biodiversity.


CDFW is the primary agency responsible for managing California’s kelp forest resources and has historically conducted annual aerial surveys of kelp canopy, tracks commercial harvest records, and provides management recommendations to the California Fish and Game Commission on kelp harvest plans, kelp bed lease requests, and potential regulation changes.


The mission of California Sea Grant is to provide the information, tools, training, and relationships needed to help California conserve and sustainably prosper from our coastal and marine environments. California Sea Grant accomplishes this by collaborating with a range of local, state, regional, national, and international partners to further the co-production and application of relevant evidence-based knowledge.

California Sea Grant’s Strategic Plan prioritizes opportunities that benefit society through building and maintaining 1) Healthy Coastal Ecosystems (HCE), 2) Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture (SFA), and 3) Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies (RCE). Specifically, the planned solicitations will meet California Sea Grant’s 2024-2027 Strategic Plan HCE Goal 1: California’s coastal and marine ecosystems, including the biodiversity, functioning and services they provide, are better understood, protected, enhanced and restored through the facilitation of partnerships and the (co-) production of knowledge; and address HCE priority topics within Ecosystem processes and functions (e.g. biodiversity and productivity, species of special interest).

Proposed research should be in line with the following strategic goals and guiding efforts: 


Award Information
Matching Funds 
solicitation Priorities
Submission Instructions
Letters of Intent
Full Proposals
Selection Criteria
Conditions of Award


California Sea Grant, OPC, and CDFW are soliciting proposals for projects that are up to 2 years in duration. There is a total of $5,000,000 available for this solicitation. Three to eight projects are anticipated to be selected for funding, with a maximum project amount of $2,000,000 (to include indirect costs, if any). The anticipated start date for all research projects is approximately February 1, 2024. The duration of a project request is typically two years, though requests for a one-year award will also be considered. Continuation of a project beyond the first year is subject to demonstration of satisfactory progress by the principal investigator (PI). California Sea Grant will lead grant administration for this solicitation on behalf of OPC.

California Sea Grant will contribute an additional $300,000 of NOAA Sea Grant funds to support the participation of undergraduate students from groups that are underrepresented and underserved in marine and coastal sciences, particularly Black or African-American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Hispanic or Latine, female, nonbinary, first-generation college students, veterans, LGBTQIA2S+, and students with disabilities. Project PIs may request up to $40,000 (to include indirect costs, if any) in additional funds over the duration of their project to support undergraduate students. These funds will be separate from the research award. If student support is requested, applicants will need to submit an additional undergraduate student support statement with their full proposal that details plans for student research, training and mentorship. Awards for undergraduate student support are anticipated to start on or after April 1, 2024 and must end by January 31, 2026 or the research project end date, whichever comes first.


No matching funds will be required for this funding opportunity. However, PIs are encouraged to point out related research and collaborations that would complement the submitted proposal.

solicitation PRIORITIES

The goal of this solicitation is to accelerate and scale up kelp research and restoration in California. Specifically, this solicitation seeks to support solutions-oriented projects that will guide the development of ecosystem-based management strategies for kelp in the face of climate change. This includes both research and restoration activities.

For proposals that involve restoration, pilot-scale projects exploring emerging restoration methods, as well as projects that move beyond the pilot scale using methods with demonstrated efficacy, will be considered. Proposals for restoration projects must include a science-based justification for site and method selection, as well as a comprehensive plan for monitoring and evaluating restoration success.

Note: For the remainder of this RFP, all instances of the term "research" or "research project" should be interpreted to include all project proposals, including those that involve restoration.

Applicants must clearly demonstrate how their proposed work will support the development of solutions to the kelp crisis, address remaining knowledge gaps (in particular those identified in OPC’s Kelp Action Plan and CDFW’s Giant Kelp and Bull Kelp Enhanced Status Report), and inform CDFW’s efforts to develop a statewide Kelp Restoration and Management Plan. Applicants are strongly encouraged to review the results of the 2020-2023 Kelp Recovery Research Program projects and identify how proposed work will build upon the outcomes of these projects.

Meaningful partnerships with California Native American tribes, local community-based organizations, community science groups, and impacted stakeholders such as recreational divers, commercial fishermen, and kelp harvesters are highly encouraged. Applicants that receive funding will be expected to coordinate closely with OPC and CDFW to ensure that project outcomes are effectively integrated into policy and management.


Eligible applicants for this competitive grant program include public agencies, California Native American tribes and tribally-led entities, public or private universities, or nonprofit corporations subject to Public Resources Code Section 35650. Projects must benefit the state of California, relatedly, California applicants will be highly prioritized. All submitting institutions will need to be able to receive state and/or federal funds, and be able to fulfill the award conditions of the Cal Model Agreement to be eligible to apply. California Sea Grant is the final arbiter of decisions regarding eligibility.

Applicants may submit more than one Letter of Intent/Full Proposal. However, if more than one proposal is selected for funding, funds will be distributed through a single subaward to the Principal Investigator’s institution. In addition, PIs may be listed as co-PIs on other projects even if they are lead PI on their own project. PIs who independently submit similar or related LOIs may be encouraged to work together at the full proposal stage.

OPC values diversity and equity at all levels of its workforce, in community engagement, and funded research. California Sea Grant is committed to increasing the diversity of the workforce we fund and of the communities we serve. We embrace individuals of all ages, races, ethnicities, national origins, gender identities, sexual orientations, disabilities, cultures, religions, marital statuses, job classifications, veteran status types, as well as income and socioeconomic status types. California Sea Grant is committed to building inclusive research, extension, communication, and education programs that serve people with unique knowledge, backgrounds, life experiences, needs, perspectives, and ways of thinking.

If you have questions about your institution’s eligibility to apply to this call, please contact Michael Esgro, OPC Senior Biodiversity Program Manager & Tribal Liaison ( and Madelyn Wampler, CA Sea Grant Program Analyst (


The following timetable lists key dates that will lead to the establishment of research awards under this call:

July 25, 2023 – 1:00 pm PT: RFP Informational Webinar (Optional)
August 15, 2023 – 5:00 pm PT: Letter of Intent due to eSeaGrant
Late August, 2023 (approximate): Letter of Intent responses sent to applicants 
September 12, 2023 – 11:00 am PT: Application Webinar (Optional) 
October 3, 2023 – 5:00 pm PT: Full proposals due to eSeaGrant [Note: only applicants who submitted a letter of intent may submit a full proposal]  
October - November 2023: Review of proposals
Late November, 2023: Proposal applicants notified of recommendations
December 12, 2023: Recommended projects brought to December OPC Council meeting for consideration of funding
February 1, 2024: Research awards begin
April 1, 2024: Undergraduate Student awards begin


California Sea Grant, OPC and CDFW hosted an Informational Webinar on July 25, 2023. You can view the recording here.


California Sea Grant, OPC and CDFW hosted an application webinar to provide insight in the review/selection process, walk through full proposal components on eSeaGrant, and address common questions, mistakes, and tips on Tuesday September 12, 2023 from 11:00 – 12:00 PM PT.

A recording of the webinar is below:


The supplementary material shared during the webinar is accessible here



Applicants are required to use the eSeaGrant online system for proposal submission.  eSeaGrant walks applicants through each step of the application process. All documents will be submitted through eSeaGrant. If you have not registered in eSeaGrant, you will need to register via the online submission “portal” (

Once you have registered and logged in, you can change your password by clicking on your name in the upper-right corner of the screen, and select “My Profile”. 

To start a proposal, or revisit/edit an existing proposal, click on “RFP (Request for Proposals)” on the banner head. Then click on “Add Proposal” under “2024 Kelp Recovery Research Program (Letter of Intent)”. Only applicants who have submitted a letter of intent may submit a full proposal and will receive an invitation to eSeaGrant for their full proposals. 

In order to submit a proposal, you must work through the sequence of sections listed on the left side of the proposal window. eSeaGrant provides sections to input or upload all application components. Files must be converted to PDFs before uploading to eSeaGrant. You may add collaborators (e.g., co-PIs, sponsored project office staff, etc.) as appropriate to assist in completing the proposal using the “Manage Collaborators” button in the upper right corner of your screen. Collaborators must also have accounts on eSeaGrant in order to be added to your proposal. A detailed walkthrough eSeaGrant Budget Forms and budget guidance, including ineligible costs, can be found here.

It is recommended that applicants access the system, review submission requirements within it, and start to upload necessary documents well in advance of the submission deadline. This will give users the opportunity to obtain any necessary clarification or assistance before the deadline. Note: We advise not to wait until the last minute to submit your application; when eSeaGrant experiences high user traffic, you may experience page loading delays. It is the applicant’s responsibility to get all required materials submitted before the deadline, and the submission deadline will not be extended

For questions regarding use of eSeaGrant, please contact



Letters of intent (LOI) are due by 5:00 pm PT on August 15, 2023 submitted through the eSeaGrant online portal. Letters of intent will be evaluated by California Sea Grant, OPC and CDFW to determine consistency with the priorities of this competitive solicitation. Principal investigators will be notified in late August 2023 whether the project is encouraged or discouraged to submit a full proposal. (Any who submit a letter of intent, including those LOIs that are discouraged, are eligible to submit a full proposal).

In the eSeaGrant Portal, you will be asked to fill out the following forms for your Letter of Intent Submission:

    • Principal Investigator Name
    • Principal Investigator Affiliation
    • Principal Investigator Email Address
    • Anticipated Co-Principal Investigator(s) Information (Name, Email, Affiliation)
    • Project Title
    • Approximate funding to be requested
    • Five keywords that represent your proposal
    • Whether your project will include restoration as part of the proposed research (Yes/No)
    • Permits required to conduct the project
    • Permission to share your contact information with the PIs of other project(s) that might mutually benefit from collaboration (Yes/No)   
  2. LETTER OF INTENT FORM: Upload a letter of intent (2-page limit, 12 pt font, PDF file) with the following components:
    • Name of applicant, affiliation, and contact information
    • Title of project
    • Approximate funding to be requested
    • Brief narrative discussion of:
      • the focal topic
      • the specific research questions to be addressed
      • how the proposed work addresses the solicitation priorities
      • the proposed study design and approach (including study location if applicable)
      • impacts and/or engagement with impacted communities (if applicable)
      • proposed data analysis
      • anticipated management application
      • (if student support will be requested) how graduate and or undergraduate students will be involved in the proposed work
  3. ADDITIONAL PERSONNEL (ANTICIPATED) FORM: Listing "Additional Personnel" is optional and this section is to be used at your discretion.  You might include any anticipated additional personnel who are NOT listed as principal investigators (e.g. staff, postdoc, key graduate student).
    • Type (Faculty/Staff, Student, or Professional)
    • First Name
    • Last Name
    • Email
    • Affiliation
    • Provide the name and contact information for at least three potential (non-conflicted) reviewers.
    • (Optional) List anyone you do NOT want California Sea Grant to use as a reviewer and/or who might have a conflict of interest for your proposal. Please include a brief reason for each response.
    • What institution are you currently affiliated with?    
    • Where did you learn about this funding opportunity?


Program managers at OPC, CDFW, and California Sea Grant will review each LOI to determine whether it addresses the goals and priorities of this funding opportunity, as advertised in this notice. Applicants that accomplish the following elements in their LOI are more likely to be encouraged to submit a full proposal of the proposed work:

  • Aligns with solicitation priorities as stated above, and clearly demonstrates how proposed work will support the development of solutions to the kelp crisis, address remaining knowledge gaps, and inform CDFW’s efforts to develop a statewide Kelp Restoration and Management Plan. 
  • Describes how proposed work will build upon outcomes of 2020-2023 Kelp Recovery Research Program projects.
  • For projects that involve restoration activities, demonstrates a high likelihood of restoration success based on best available science.
  • If applicable, describes a plan for meaningful engagement with California Native American tribes, local community-based organizations, community science groups, and/or impacted stakeholders such as recreational divers, commercial fishermen, and kelp harvesters.

Applicants that have the following issues in their LOI are more likely to be discouraged from submitting a full proposal of the proposed work:

  • Does not clearly demonstrate how the proposed work fulfills the solicitation priorities (stated above) 
  • Lacks a clear connection to management/policy (project is not “solutions-oriented”) 


Only applicants who have submitted a letter of intent may submit a full proposal.

Full proposals are due by 5:00 pm PT on October 3, 2023 through the eSeaGrant online portal. All required proposal documents will be submitted through eSeaGrant (submission instructions below). A fillable template Excel Workbook is provided for guidance on select proposal requirements (Cover page, Budget & Budget Justification, Current and Pending Support, and Project Timeline/Milestones chart). 

Adherence to the format requirements is mandatory and ensures fairness across all applications. Applications not meeting the format requirements may be rejected without review. Several application elements have specific page limits and excess pages will not be reviewed. Only the requested materials should be submitted; additional documents (e.g. appendices, unless specified in these instructions) will not be reviewed.

Proposal Format: 

  1. Type Fonts: 12 point Arial or Helvetica preferred. 
  2. Margins: Side, top and bottom margins should be approximately 1 inch each. 
  3. Line Spacing: The narrative of the proposal should be single-spaced. Please do not use 1½ line spacing. 
  4. Graphics: Any tables, figures and illustrations must be submitted in final form and embedded within or appended to the narrative. All graphics and tables count toward the 12-page limit of the project narrative. 
  5. References: The list of references does not count toward the 12-page limit. 

Proposal requirements and character/page limits for a complete application package are listed below. Please use this as an inventory checklist to aid you in preparing the application.

  1. SIGNED INSTITUTIONAL COVER PAGE  This Cover Page provides basic summary information regarding the project and demonstrates support of the proposal from the applicants’ institution. Applicants should download and use the fillable Cover Page Template (found in the fillable template Excel Workbook), enter this information, and upload this document as a PDF back into eSeaGrant. Please provide all requested information and obtain the required institutional signatures (e.g., from your sponsored projects office or equivalent). Summary budget information must match that requested in eSeaGrant budget forms. Each lead and subaward institution must submit a signed institutional cover page.
  2. PROJECT SUMMARY  The Project Summary is a fillable on-line form in eSeaGrant. Applicants will need to prepare separate sections for objectives, methodology, rationale (these three sections should not exceed 3000 characters total), and identify the OPC Strategic Plan and California Sea Grant Strategic Plan Focus Area(s) the project addresses to complete the project summary form. The project summary provides a concise description of the proposed research in a form useful to a variety of readers not requiring detailed information. Instructions are available in eSeaGrant to help applicants accurately complete the form. Please follow these instructions carefully - the project summary is the most widely consulted description of your project.
  3. PROJECT NARRATIVE  The Project Narrative is a single PDF file that includes multiple components. The project narrative format and contents may vary; however, proposals should include the information listed below. The project narrative MUST not exceed 12 pages (INCLUDING: Introduction, Objectives, Approach, Outcomes and Deliverables, Project Timeline, Community Engagement & DEIJA, illustrations, charts, tables, and figures; NOT INCLUDING: References). Proposals exceeding the page limit will not be reviewed.
    • Introduction and Background – Provide the rationale for your project (a well-defined problem or important opportunity). Demonstrate a clear relationship between the problem statement and the project objectives. Merit, rationale, innovativeness, and utilization for the research proposed are criteria by which proposals are evaluated. Thus, a clear, concise statement of the “real world” need for your research (rationale), a description of who might use the results and how these results might be used (utilization) should be addressed. 
    • Objectives In number or “bullet” format, provide a list of clearly defined objectives. For each objective, provide a concise statement explaining how the objective is aligned with the goals and priorities of this funding opportunity.
    • Approach (Plan of Work) Provide an explanation of the methods you will use to address your project objectives. Present the scientific/technical approach, experiments, procedures, timeline, etc. Identify and discuss any new approaches (innovativeness) to solving problems and exploiting opportunities in resource management or development, including public outreach. Please make clear what other sources of support (fiscal, personnel or logistical), if any, will be used to help support the work proposed. 
    • Outcomes and Deliverables – Project outcomes should be clearly related to the project objectives and should be briefly described. Any planned interactions with relevant management personnel should be described. Within the design of the project, applicants should identify which group(s) of stakeholders will benefit from the work performed. Each proposal should clearly describe how users of information will be engaged before work begins, during the project, and how results will be disseminated to the targeted stakeholder.
    • Project Timeline – Please provide a timeline for accomplishing the proposed work, which covers the entire duration of the project. Include approximate dates for key milestones related to the proposed work, including the accomplishment of anticipated outcomes and release of deliverables.
    • Community Engagement and DEIJA (suggested 1-2 pages) – Applicants are encouraged to integrate diversity and inclusion in the scientific project and/or research design. In this section, describe how well the proposed activity broadens the participation of underrepresented groups and how they benefit from the outcomes of the proposed activity. Partnerships with local community-based organizations, tribes, and impacted communities are also highly encouraged, where applicable, to inform the proposed research design and/or location(s).
    • References List all included references alphabetically. The list of References does NOT count toward the 12-page limit of the narrative but must be included in the narrative pdf file. 
  4. CVs AND ADDITIONAL PERSONNEL  Provide CVs (maximum 2 pages for each person) of all key personnel (PIs, co-PIs, Associate PIs). Each investigator (PI or co-PI) record created in eSeaGrant should have a CV associated with it. If a CV longer than 2 pages is submitted, reviewers will only be provided with the first 2 pages of the CV for each PI and co-PI. 
    • Listing “Additional Personnel” in eSeaGrant is optional, and this section is to be used at your discretion. You may include all additional personnel who are NOT listed as investigators (e.g., Postdoc, key graduate student). If there are additional personnel who are not the PI or co-PI’s, their CVs should also be attached to the submission.
  5. UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT SUPPORT (Optional)  PIs may request funding for undergraduate student support. These funds will be separate from the research award. If PIs request funds for undergraduate students by completing the “Undergraduate Student Support” form, they may be awarded up to $40,000 (to include indirect costs, if any) for undergraduate student support. Recruitment of undergraduates from underrepresented backgrounds (i.e., underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, first generation college students, and individuals from these and any other economically or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds that have inhibited their ability to fully engage in activities supporting a career in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)) is highly encouraged. Guided research experiences and mentorship to underrepresented students, with the goal of increasing retention in STEM and launching careers in coastal science is highly encouraged and will be given weight in funding decisions. If you would like to request funds for undergraduate students, DO NOT include these funds in the research project budget (see budget narrative section below). Instead, please provide the following information:
    • Funding Request Summary
      • Total number of undergraduates requested
      • Total requested amount (not to exceed $40,000) based on your institution’s federally negotiated IDC rate
        • Note: If your research project and student support request is selected for funding, you will be required to complete a separate detailed budget for the student(s) using your institution’s federally negotiated IDC rate.
    • Undergraduate Support Statement (2-page maximum PDF) outlining:
      • Plan to identify, recruit, and select undergraduate students from underrepresented groups.
      • How the student will be involved in the proposed research and/or restoration project.
      • The mentoring strategy (methods, frequency) to be used for maintaining meaningful engagement throughout the opportunity (i.e., in what way and how often the mentor and mentee will communicate), and rationale for the strategy.
      • The research community culture that students will be engaged in, including professional development (e.g., seminars, group discussions, workshops, social activities, etc.), partnerships with external organizations and communities, student cohort building, etc.
  6. BUDGET NARRATIVE  The Budget Narrative must include both the eSeaGrant Budget Forms and accompanying Budget Justification. A detailed walkthrough eSeaGrant Budget Forms and budget guidance, including ineligible costs, can be found here. The fillable template Excel Workbook can be used to prepare your budget, but all final budgets must be submitted using the eSeaGrant budget forms.  
    • eSeaGrant Budget Forms are required to provide budget breakdowns and budget justifications by year and object class for the proposal. A completed eSeaGrant Budget worksheet should be completed for each project year (i.e., Year 1 and Year 2). Be prepared to enter any salaries, wages, and fringe benefits for all personnel associated with the project. Also, if applicable, indicate expected costs for equipment, expendable supplies, publication costs, and travel. Note: NGN Network charges may not be allowed and a rebudget may be required if these fees are included.
    • The Budget Justification is required for each year of the project (or each individual project within an application). Each budget justification should explain the budget items in sufficient detail to enable review of the appropriateness of the funding requested. Sample budget justification can be found here.
    • Travel: CASG, CDFW, and OPC will host two workshops for funded project PIs to share initial findings, methodologies, challenges, and to foster collaboration between projects. The first will be held in-person at the midpoint of the projects (spring 2025), and the second will be held in-person at the conclusion of the projects (spring 2026). Applicants are requested to include expenses to travel to these workshops (locations to be determined in coastal California).
    • Indirect Costs (IDC), if applicable. Both federal and state funds will be used to support projects approved for funding. When completing your budget, please use the state IDC rate of 25% (unless your institution has another negotiated IDC rate with OPC) (MTDC). If recommended for funding, California Sea Grant may ask you to work with staff to revise your budget to ensure that the project budget, indirect costs, match, etc. are correct.
    • Graduate Student Support: Please note that any graduate trainee stipends and/or tuition support are NOT subject to indirect costs, whereas other project costs (e.g. travel, supplies) typically are subject to indirect costs. The amount requested for a trainee stipend must conform to your institution’s normal stipend for a half-time graduate student at their level of experience. 
    • Undergraduate Student Support: Please do not include stipends or tuition support for undergraduate students in the overall budget request, see section above for more details on how to request Undergraduate Student Support.
    • Subawards: All subaward institutions must submit via eSeaGrant: a signed institutional cover page (see Excel budget workbook for template), yearly eSeaGrant subaward budget worksheet(s) with budget justification, and a scope of work (subaward tab). Lead PI(s) can provide access to their proposal on eSeaGrant to subaward collaborators using the "Manage Collaborators" feature. Collaborators must have an account on eSeaGrant in order to be added. 
  7. SUPPORT LETTERS (Optional)  Support letters are optional. However, if they are to be included in the application, please consolidate all letters into one PDF to upload to eSeaGrant.

  8. CURRENT AND PENDING SUPPORT  Using the section online in eSeaGrant, please list other current and pending sources of support associated with investigators. You may also upload a PDF with this information.

  9. DATA MANAGEMENT PLAN  All applications should include a Data Management Plan. Describe how data and other information generated by the project will be handled, stored, and shared, i.e., disseminated to the public, participants, stakeholders, and the State.
    • OPC’s data repository on DataONE will serve as the formal vehicle for delivery of all data and technical reports associated with OPC funded projects. Applicants are encouraged to contact OPC to learn more about data submission requirements. Applicants should also be aware that a wide variety of aquatic environmental data are collected by and made available by the California Environmental Data Exchange Network (CEDEN). Applicants are encouraged to contact staff at CEDEN, as appropriate, to discuss availability and access to data, and data management or data quality requirements that might bear on the proposed research project. Applicants are encouraged to address data harmonization and reporting in the Data Management Plan.
    • NOAA Data Sharing Requirements - Data and information collected and/or created under NOAA grants and cooperative agreements must be made visible, accessible, and independently understandable to general users, free of charge or at minimal cost, in a timely manner (typically no later than two years after the data are collected or created), except where limited by law, regulation, policy or by security requirements. The requirement has two basic parts: (1) environmental data generated by a grant project must be made available after a reasonable period of exclusive use, and (2) the grant application must describe the plan to make the data available (Principal Investigators are expected to execute the plan).
      • If your project produces environmental data, it must conform to NOAA’s Data Sharing Directive for Grants, Cooperative Agreements, and Contracts. For detailed guidance, you can view the current version of the policy, including a definition of environmental data (which can include socioeconomic and model data), download any updates and access additional implementation resources at the following permanent URL (Appendix B outlines requirements):
      • If a proposal responding to this competition will not generate environmental data, the data management plan should say, “This project will not generate environmental data, therefore a data management plan is not required.”
  10. ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE QUESTIONNAIRE (NEPA) – An Environmental Questionnaire is required with each application. Applicants can download a fillable questionnaire form here: All applicants must ensure that the Questionnaire is completed in full and includes detailed information regarding project location, methodology, and permits. If a question is not applicable to your project write “N/A” as your response; blank responses are considered incomplete responses. Copies of all permits required for project activities should be included with application materials. If a permit is pending or planned, please provide this information. Guidance on how to complete the Questionnaire and example Questionnaires for different types of projects can be found here:
    • The NEPA Questionnaire is required for ALL research projects even if the project is fully lab-based or relies on social science. The NEPA Questionnaire is also required for any project that meets the following criteria:
      • Environmental permits, authorizations or waivers
      • Biological take and/or release
      • Environmental sampling
      • Hazardous or toxic substances and waste
      • Permanent or temporary environmental effects
      • Endangered or threatened species and/or protected areas
      • Known or unknown risks to human health or the environment
      • Controversial environmental subject matter
  11. CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY ACT (CEQA) COMPLIANCE  The CEQA summary is a fillable online form in eSeaGrant. Please include information on the project’s CEQA compliance. The Ocean Protection Council must determine whether the project is in compliance with CEQA prior to the issuance of funding awards. Please note that OPC cannot serve as a lead agency for CEQA. It is the responsibility of the applicant to identify a lead agency and ensure compliance under CEQA. If you believe the project to be exempt from CEQA, please identify which exemption the project falls under. The definition of activities that are “projects” under CEQA is available here, and the list of activities that are categorically exempt from CEQA is available here. If the project requires environmental review under CEQA, please provide the following information: 
    • Lead Agency Name
    • Lead Agency Representative, Title
    • Contact Information (phone, email)
    • What type of CEQA document has been, or is being prepared: Mitigated Negative Declaration/Negative Declaration or Environmental Impact Report?
    • Please upload the CEQA document (draft is acceptable if the final is not available).
    • If CEQA is in progress, please provide an estimated date by which the lead agency will approve the CEQA document.
    • If permits are required to conduct the proposed project, please fill out this Permit Approval Status Form and upload the PDF version into eSeaGrant. If no permits are required, please state "No permits are required for this project." 
  12. ACCESSIBILITY PLAN – Please provide information regarding how accessibility requirements will be addressed (suggested ½ - 1 page uploaded as a PDF). All reports, deliverables, and communication materials produced for online posting and distribution associated with research funded by this RFP must be accessible, including but not limited to, blindness and low vision, deafness, and hearing loss, in compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. For more information regarding accessibility requirements, please visit: Please indicate whether this required portion of the project will be addressed in-house or if this is a service that must be contracted out. If the applicant will require financial support to address accessibility requirements, this service can be included in the budget of the project.
  13. DEMOGRAPHICS QUESTIONNAIRE (Optional) – This questionnaire can be filled out online in eSeaGrant. It is voluntary and answers will be anonymous. Any data provided assists California Sea Grant in its commitment to equal opportunities. This questionnaire will be separated from the application and will not be used in any review decisions. This data will be used internally for statistical data gathering and reporting purposes in evaluating the extent to which California Sea Grant is achieving its equal opportunity goals.


Proposals will undergo a structured review process led by California Sea Grant, OPC and CDFW. California Sea Grant will review applications for meeting format requirements, and applications that do not meet the format requirements may be rejected without review. Each proposal will be subjected to at least three external written reviews. Reviewers/panelists will all be external to California Sea Grant and all reviewers will be asked to complete a Conflict of Interest (COI) form prior to conducting their review. Review panels will include subject matter experts, scientists, and agency representatives. At their discretion, CA Sea Grant, OPC and CDFW may request additional review by likely user groups of the research findings or suggest coordination of complementary proposals. See “Selection Criteria” section below for details on the OPC Council Approval process.



To be funded, proposed projects must be consistent with the missions of California Sea Grant, OPC, and CDFW, be consistent with this request for proposals, and be a solutions-oriented project that addresses the solicitation priorities listed above. In addition, evaluation of proposals will be based on the following criteria: 

[30%] Project Rationale, Relevance, and Utilization: The degree to which the proposed project addresses an important issue, scientific problem, information gap, or opportunity in the health, development, use or management of marine or coastal resources and ecosystems, as stated in the list of priority topic areas. The degree to which the proposed project will help the recovery of kelp populations in California. 

[30%] Scientific Merit and/or Innovativeness: The degree to which the proposed project will provide possible solutions aimed at protecting and restoring California kelp ecosystems or discipline through use of state-of-the-art robust methods. The degree to which new approaches to solving problems and exploiting opportunities in resource management or development will be employed in the proposed project. 

[20%] Community Engagement and DEIJA: The degree to which diversity and inclusion is integrated in the project and/or research design, including how the proposed activity broadens the participation of underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and/or impacted communities in the research design, location(s), and/or mentorship opportunities.

[15%] Qualifications of Investigators: The degree to which investigators are qualified by education, training and/or experience to execute the proposed project. Evidence of any record of achievement with previous funding. 

[5%] Project Costs and Justification


The Undergraduate Student Support Form (Statement and Funding Request) will be evaluated separately from the research project proposal components based on the following criteria:

[30%] Research Community Culture: Thoughtfulness and evidence-based approach of the proposed student research to promote a safe, accessible learning environment and a sense of belonging for undergraduates from underrepresented groups, including strategies to implement research interests of value to underrepresented and underserved communities.

[30%] Mentorship: Thoughtfulness of the mentoring strategies to be used and their appropriateness and likelihood to succeed in nurturing the student(s) in the pursuit of a research career, including the research mentor's record of involvement with undergraduate research (including mentoring students from underrepresented groups).

[20%] Recruitment Plan: Comprehensiveness and feasibility of plan to recruit undergraduates from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, first generation college students, and individuals from these and any other economically or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds that have inhibited their ability to fully engage in activities supporting a career in STEM.

[20%] Student Research: Appropriateness and value of the proposed student research engagement, particularly the appropriateness of the research program for undergraduate involvement and appropriate consideration of the nature and extent of student participation in these activities.


California Sea Grant, OPC and CDFW shall award in the rank order based on the evaluation criteria above unless the proposal is justified to be selected out of rank order based on one or more of the following factors:

  1. Availability of funding.
  2. Balance/distribution of funds:
    • Geographically
    • By type of institution 
    • By type of partners 
    • By solicitation priorities 
    • By project types
  3. Duplication of other projects funded or considered for funding by California Sea Grant, OPC and CDFW.
  4. Program priorities and policy factors.
  5. Applicant’s prior award performance.
  6. Partnerships with/participation of diverse groups, mentors and underrepresented communities.

It is expected that PIs will be notified in late November 2023 whether CA Sea Grant, OPC and CDFW intend to fund their project, pending concurrence from NOAA Sea Grant and OPC. Projects recommended for funding through this review process will be presented at an Ocean Protection Council meeting on December 12, 2023 for consideration of final approval of awards. After OPC and NOAA Sea Grant concurrence, applicants will be notified of the final award selection and can begin projects on or after February 1, 2024. Awards for student support are anticipated to start on or after April 1, 2024.


A full description of the Conditions of Award will be provided to project PIs if funded. Briefly, throughout the award period PIs will be required to:

Progress Reports

Provide progress reports to California Sea Grant on an annual basis, including a final report (template to be provided by California Sea Grant), and a copy of any thesis or dissertation from students supported by this award, even if it is completed after the award period. Progress Reports and Final Reports are extremely important for describing the impacts, accomplishments, products, and outreach that were accomplished during the life of a project.

Work with California Sea Grant’s Communication Team and assist California Sea Grant's efforts to publicize your project activities.

Acknowledge Support

Acknowledge OPC, CDFW and California Sea Grant support in all relevant presentations and publications. Attributions to OPC, CDFW and California Sea Grant-funded (or supported) projects require attribution and funding acknowledgment.


Proposal Content Questions: 
Michael Esgro, California Ocean Protection Council (
Kristen Elsmore, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (

Proposal eSeaGrant Questions:
Madelyn Wampler, California Sea Grant - Program Analyst

Budget Questions: