Pledge About

Gale Filter

Executive Director, San Diego Coastkeepers

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.


Gale joined Coastkeeper in July 2011 as an executive director. Previously, Gale was deputy director for Enforcement and Emergency Response at the state of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control. The department is part of the California Environmental Protection Agency. Moreover, Filter’s previous work experience includes time as the deputy executive director for consumer, environmental and legal services at the California District Attorney’s Association, as a deputy district attorney in Imperial County and as an instructor at Joliet Junior College.

While at the Department of Toxic Substances Control, Filter worked to ensure that businesses and others followed state laws and regulations in how they managed, stored and transported hazardous waste in California. Working with an annual budget of approximately $20 million, he directed all aspects of the enforcement program including a staff of 150 scientists, inspectors and criminal investigators at eight state offices. When hired at the Department of Toxic Substances, Filter was tasked to modernize the environmental enforcement program into a transparent, accountable and efficient program that maximized reduction of environmental harms in the state. The Environmental Protection Agency considers his reorganized and modernized environmental enforcement program as one of its five “showcase models” that brought improvements in public health and the environment.

He also created the Environmental Justice Enforcement Initiative, a community-based policing and task force program that focuses on collecting intelligence and “spotting and squishing” environmental harms. The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government honored this initiative as a 2010 Bright Idea in American Government. From 1999 to 2003, Filter was the environmental project director for the California District Attorneys Association. And before joining the Toxic Substances Control department of the state, he served as the deputy executive director of consumer, environmental and legal services at the District Attorneys Association. A lifelong environmentalist, Filter started his official environmental work in California in 1991 when he was a prosecutor in the Imperial County District Attorney’s office. Along with prosecuting murder and serious felony cases, Filter took on environmental crimes and prosecuted people responsible for harming the environment. Gale has a Juris Doctorate degree from the University Of San Diego School of Law, a Master of Public Administration degree from Governors State University in Illinois and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Humboldt State University.

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