Hearing on protecting coastline draws a full house

An area off WindanSea Beach, south to Crystal Pier is included in one version of the protected area maps. Photo: Kathy Day

Staff Writer

About 1,000 people attended an all-day California Fish and Game Commission meeting Oct. 20 in San Diego to weigh in on creating marine protected areas (MPAs) throughout Southern California. The proposal includes areas from La Jolla to Encinitas.

More than 700 speaker slips were turned in by students, surfers, elected officials, divers, fisherman, business leaders and conservationists. They expressed opinions on several proposed alternatives seeking boundaries of alternating size for a network of MPAs to be created along the Southern California coastline.

In 1999, the state enacted the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) directing state agencies to reexamine and redesign California’s system of marine protected areas with the goal of increasing its effectiveness at protecting the state’s marine life, habitats and ecosystems.

Two different types of areas for ocean protection have been proposed along the San Diego coast: State Marine Reserves (SMRs) allowing no extraction or fishing whatsoever; and State Marine Conservation Areas (SMCAs) allowing limited fishing. Recreational surfing, kayaking and non-consumptive diving would not be restricted in either zone.

Part of the proposal includes a seven-mile no-take zone from south La Jolla near WindanSea Beach to Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach is proposed, prompting fishermen to warn making that area off limits to fishing will “herd” users together into tightly compacted areas.

Anglers of all stripes testified at the Oct. 20 public hearing. Some conceded the necessity for MPAs to protect dwindling fish and other species allowing them to grow and replenish. But others referred to creation of MPAs along the San Diego coast as “an anti-fishing initiative.” One asked, “Why punish fishermen for failed management policies of the past?”

San Diego Coastkeeper, an environmental nonprofit advocating for clean water, is lobbying for maximum ocean protection.

“According to a Public Policy Institute of California poll, more than 70 percent of Southern Californians support strong marine protection,” Coastkeeper spokeswoman Kate Hanley wrote in an e-mail. ”That was certainly reflected in the diversity of ocean user groups speaking up yesterday asking for the greatest possible protections along our coast.

With more than 60 public meetings and 100 hours of comment over the past two years, it’s time for the commission to set in place a strong network of marine protected areas that the public wants.”

The final Fish & Game Commission meeting, where it will sign into law the network of marine protected areas in Southern California, will take place in Santa Barbara in December.

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Posted by Kathy Day on Oct 21, 2010. Filed under News, Region. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

2 Comments for “Hearing on protecting coastline draws a full house”

  1. Daniel

    Wow this is a very biased article.

  2. Jason

    It's truly a shame that coastkeeper has decided that fishermen are the enemy. The MPAs only restrict fishing. They do nothing to address water quality, or pollution. In fact the maps were drawn up specifically to make accommodations for sewage outfalls and de-sal plants and other sources of pollution. Recreational fishermen, and specifically kayak, spear and shore fishermen who are the most affected by these restrictions as they only extend to 3 miles offshore, are pretty much universally in favor of improving water quality along our coast as well as proper fishery management. The MLPA is just window dressing with a nice name to garner public support while excluding one small group of ocean users. Another example of the tyranny of the majority I suppose.

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