La Jolla Parks and Beaches group seeks clarification about marine sanctuaries
Regulations for marine protected areas off La Jolla coast
• San Diego-Scripps Coastal State Marine Conservation Area: Take of all living marine resources prohibited except the recreational take of coastal pelagic species (fish inhabiting the upper layers of the ocean), except market squid, by hook-and-line only.
• Matlahuayl Sate Marine Reserve: Take of all living marine resources prohibited. Boats may be launched and retrieved only in designated areas and may be anchored within the reserve only during daylight hours.
• South La Jolla State Marine Reserve: Take of all living marine resources prohibited.
• South La Jolla State Marine Conservation Area: Take of all living marine resources prohibited, except the recreational take of pelagic finfish, including Pacific bonito, by hook-and-line only.
• Online MPA maps and info: dfg.ca.gov/mlpa (scroll down and click on the banner for South Coast)
By Pat Sherman
The public’s hazy understanding of the boundaries comprising La Jolla’s four new state marine protected areas (MPAs), and new regulations governing them, generated robust discussion during the Jan. 28 meeting of the La Jolla Parks & Beaches, Inc. (LJP&B) city advisory group.
The names and boundaries of three existing underwater reserves off the La Jolla coast, established by the City of San Diego and the California Department of Fish and Game in 1971, were altered on Jan. 1, 2012 per the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA).
The 1999 state law required all existing MPAs in California to be re-evaluated and reconfigured to function as a statewide network.
The law took more than a decade to implement, due to state budget constraints and opposition from various interest groups, Scripps Institution of Oceanography marine ecologist Ed Parnell told the La Jolla Light.
A series of meetings with a government-appointed Fish and Game Commission were held from 2009 to 2011, during which scientists, environmental groups, commercial fishing representatives, government officials and other stakeholders offered input on the new boundaries and regulations.
However, there has been little information disseminated about the new reserves, which in La Jolla include: San Diego-Scripps Coastal State Marine Conservation Area, Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve, South La Jolla State Marine Reserve and South La Jolla State Marine Conservation Area.
“It was a very contentious process,” often pitting the interests of fishermen against conservationists, Parnell said.
LJP&B member Debbie Beacham, who attended several of the meetings, said she felt there was nobody there to represent the interests of La Jollans. Beacham noted that, until recently, there was no public signage identifying the reserves or their regulations, adding to public confusion.
“The Department of Fish and Game is now zooming all over La Jolla giving out tickets because people are standing on a beach with a fishing pole where they normally did for years — and now they can’t,” she said. “People have no clue.”
LJP&B member Mary Coakley-Munk added that though the mayors of various coastal cities, as well as representatives from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Kumeyaay Indians were represented during the decision-making process, to her knowledge the City of San Diego wasn’t well- represented, if at all.
I e-mailed the mayor and Sherri (Lightner’s) office,” she said. “It was extremely political and extremely unfortunate that the City of San Diego did not take part — at least that I’m aware of — in this process, which affects us more than most of the other (areas).”
MPA signage on the way
A group of stakeholders known as the San Diego County MPA Implementation Collaborative met for the first time Jan. 30, 2013 to address the lack of signage and clarify other issues related to the local MPAs. The group includes representatives from Wildcoast, the Surfrider Foundation, San Diego Coastkeeper, Birch Aquarium, local municipalities (including San Diego), UC San Diego, the Port of San Diego and others.
The as-of-now, invitation-only group is also working to provide education and outreach at access points to the reserves, as well as enforcement and monitoring to prevent poaching.
Jill Witkowski of San Diego Coastkeeper, who attended the recent meeting, said the collaborative’s next step will be to form effective subgroups to provide outreach to “other groups that need to be involved,” such as LJP&B.
One of the goals, Witkowski said, is to encourage the public to use the MPAs “more for non-consumptive things like swimming and surfing” and to help document information on fishing trends.
For more information about the group or to get involved with their effort, e-mail Ben McCue at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (619) 423-8665. online: wildcoast.net
In other Parks and Beaches news
LJP&B member David Pierce questioned why the city did not post the standard public notice for the project, and why it was not brought before LJP&B before the camera was installed.
Evans said when he began serving as a community liaison on the issue, it was his primary objective to have the city take ownership of the issue.
“I think we’ve accomplished that,” he said. “The staff is working very hard day-to-day to find the path of least regulatory resistance to get something done. I no longer feel like it’s our burden to figure out the solution.”
Evans said the city is working on both short-term solutions (bird waste removal or camouflaging the odor) and long-term solutions (discouraging birds from roosting on the Cove rocks).
“I know that city staff has met with bird control experts, including the people who worked on the Miramar Landfill issues and some of the hotels,” he said.
Minick said she would soon be meeting with City of San Diego project manager Jihad Sleiman to get a timeframe for replacement of the lifeguard tower at Children’s Pool, which is slated to begin in June. LJP&B hopes to complete the sidewalk project at the same time as the lifeguard tower, and save money by using the same city-approved contractor.
“I explained (to him) that when you deal with grant funding agencies, they want to know when a project is going to start and when it’s going to end,” Minick said.
“When you can’t tell people exactly what the dates are, it’s almost impossible to get a commitment, and it makes us sound not very real.”
Minick said she also attended the inaugural meeting of the San Diego City Council’s new Infrastructure Committee, at which she spoke about the dangers of the crowded, unsafe sidewalk along Coast Boulevard near Children’s Pool.
“The foot traffic extends into the street because there just isn’t enough room on the sidewalk the way it is laid out now,” she said.
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