Pledge About

John Fentis

Environmental Project Director, California District Attorneys Association

Presentation: High Tech Solutions for Marine Protected Area Enforcement

San Diego Coastkeeper, in partnership with the California District Attorneys Association, launched a three-year pilot project in 2011 to develop new technology to report, track and analyze poaching violations in marine protected areas. With leadership from an executive vice president of engineering from Qualcomm Incorporated and input from the California Department of Fish and Game, a ten member technology committee works with Z Data Solutions and the University of California San Diego’s Global TIES program to develop new tools that harness the power of crowd sourcing, predictive policing and sophisticated monitoring and detection systems. Simultaneously, the team prepares its legal clinic to manage a community policing initiative to help enforcement agencies target their efforts by identifying, geographically locating and documenting poaching violations that occur in marine protected areas. Eventually, this predictive policing model will be replicated for all California MPAs and beyond.


John practiced law in the private sector for five years before joining the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s Office in 1981. In 1990, he established an environmental criminal prosecution unit for the office and directed its operations until 2005. During his tenure, the unit generated in excess of seven million dollars in fines and penalties resulting from the criminal prosecution of individuals and corporations who were in non-compliance with California’s environmental laws. He was designated by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office as a special deputy to assist with felony prosecutions of environmental offenders. He retired from the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s Office in 2005 after twenty-four years of public service.

John was a co-founder of the Long Beach/Los Angeles County Natural Resources Trust, a unique entity that gave grants to environmental organizations to assist in wetland restoration projects as well as environmental education within the Southern California area. He was honored by the California Department of Fish and Game in 1998 in recognition of his aggressive enforcement efforts in the field of marine conservation. In 2002, the California District Attorneys Association presented John with an environmental prosecution award in recognition of his achievements of the previous twelve years.

On August 1, 2007 John became the President of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation is focused upon education and research relative to plastic and its impact upon the marine environment. As of September 1, 2008, John was named the Environmental Project Director for the California District Attorneys Association. He coordinates the training programs for the State’s environmental enforcement community, and provides training for California’s environmental prosecutors. John also provides consulting services for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and participates in community meetings designed to assist community activists in the identification and resolution of environmental issues in an effort to ensure compliance with California’s environmental laws.

Back to Conference Page.png