(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.