Showing all articles published in December 2009.
The planning meetings have come and gone. The Blue Ribbon Task Force, Regional Stakeholder Group, Science Advisory Teamand general public have all had their say. Now the future of southern California’s coastal waters sits with the Fish and Game Commission, which met December 9, to gather input from the community and MLPA advisors before sending off four marine protected area plans for further economic and scientific analysis.
South coast residents can still weigh in via mail or email, and will have additional opportunities to comment in person when the Commission returns to southern California for three more meetings in 2010.
Although the Commission has adopted the BRTF’s Integrated Preferred Alternative as the “proposed project,” all four of the current proposals for marine protected areas on the south coast remain on the table.
So what does that mean? It means now is the time to remind the Fish and Game Commission that science should guide our state’s resource management decisions. And the conservation plan—also known as Proposal 3—is the only one that meets science guidelines and protects all southern California’s iconic ocean places, like Naples Reef, Point Dume, Palos Verdes, Laguna, Catalina Island and La Jolla. At the December 9 meeting, Dr. Steve Murray of the Science Advisory Team confirmed that Proposal 3 would produce the greatest ecosystem benefits.
Please send an email or note to the Commissioners voicing your support for Proposal 3.
Marine Life Protection Act Initiative
c/o California Natural Resources Agency
1416 Ninth Street, Suite 1311
Sacramento, CA 95814
Tell them to adopt a plan that will serve the region’s economy and environment. We only get one shot at this and we need to get it right!
Carl Safina and Sylvia Earle are no strangers to the benefits of marine protected areas. Dr. Earle won the TED prize for her work to protect the planet's "blue heart," and her goal is to see a worldwide network of marine protected areas to keep the world's oceans healthy and sustainable.
Both ocean experts worry about the effects of climate change, overfishing, pollution, and habitat destruction on sea life. And now, Safina and Earle are calling for a bailout plan for the ocean. At a recent event, they had conservationists repeat, "the oceans are too big to fail."
That's certainly true in California. The coast and ocean are our most iconic attraction. According to the National Ocean Economics Program 2009 report, they drive $22 billion dollars in revenue and 350,000 jobs each year. And the lion's share of that--three quarters of the revenue, and over half the jobs--come from tourism and recreation.
In order to keep those industries thriving, we have to protect the iconic ocean places and wildlife people come to enjoy. If our oceans are too big to fail, then the Marine Life Protection Act is a wise investment indeed for California.
In San Francisco you expect it to be fairly easy to find locally harvested seafood: this is where the term “locavore” came from, after all, and the Bay Area, like the rest of California, is historically famous for its abundance and diversity of seafood.
According to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, we’ve seen a 71 percent drop in commercial fishing revenue along the north-central California coast since 1990.
We’re seeing the same steady declines in fishery productivity across the country, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reporting last year that more than three-fourths of the fish Americans eat comes from other countries.
But the ongoing Marine Life Protection Act process in California gives hope to those who yearn for a return to abundance. In August the Fish and Game Commission voted to create a network of underwater parks from Point Arena to Pigeon Point, resulting in 155 square miles of protected ocean to support the recovery of damaged fish stocks like rock fish and abalone.
With a similar network already adopted for the Central Coast and the wheels in motion for creating protections for the North and South regions, California is poised to set the gold standard for ocean protection.
When it comes to natural resource management, we often talk about our responsibility to future generations. But rarely do those generations take an active role in decision-making.
Enter the 20 students of Mendocino High’s School of Natural Resources (SONAR), who are engaging in the Marine Life Protection Act implementation process to ensure the resulting ocean protection plan truly serves their interests.
These kids are part of a grant-funded “school within a school,” and they’re developing their own North Coast marine protected area plan to submit to the Fish and Game Commission in February, where it will be considered alongside a county-led proposal prepared by fishermen, scientists, and environmental groups.
The students are following science guidelines, gathering input from ocean users and attending town hall and regional stakeholder meetings.
They bring a refreshingly apolitical perspective to this issue. And, if their past science work is any indication, we can expect their MPA proposal to be both credible and reasonable: The Department of Fish and Game uses salmon data the class collected for the Little North Fork of Big River, and they are considering a formal submission to a scientific journal on a new colony of fairy shrimp they discovered in a vernal pool.
The class has set up a group email through which you can contact them. Read more about their plans in today’s Mendocino Beacon.
Ocean Beach resident Mike Laude has been diving and fishing southern California's waters for three decades. He remembers swimming from Windansea to Bird Rock, "gawking at halibut, lobsters, abalone, moray eels, starfish, urchins, garibaldi, schools of sargo, barracuda, opal eye, and bait fish."
Like many south coast watermen, Laude enjoys watching sea life, and hunting for his dinner amid the kelp forests and rocky reefs. In a December 4 North County Times op-ed he writes about catching lobsters nearly as old as he was, and watching abalone numbers dwindle.
Richard Holt, who serves on the Advisory Council for the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, has been fishing and diving south coast waters even longer than Laude. The picture above is from his website, showing a typical day's catch at Palos Verdes from the 1950's (all caught without SCUBA gear.)
Fish and shellfish are getting smaller and fewer each year, and habitat protection is a key part of the solution. Mike Laude has followed Marine Life Protection Act process, and come out in support of the compromise plan for southern California.
Many other divers and anglers, along with scientists, conservationists, and educators are expected to attend a December 9 Marine Life Protection Act meeting in Los Angeles to voice their support for a strong marine protected area plan. The future bounty of our ocean is at stake.
The compromise marine protected area plan for southern California recommended by the Blue Ribbon Task Force was designed to balance fishing access with conservation. It includes protection for key feeding and breeding grounds like Naples Reef, Point Dume, Laguna, and south La Jolla, while leaving nearly 90% of south coast waters open for fishing.
The compromise plan (also known as the Integrated Preferred Alternative, or IPA) will not effect pier anglers at all, and will allow ongoing commercial and recreational fishing in popular spots like:
- Ellwood and Carpinteria Reefs in Santa Barbara County
- The entire coast of central and southern Ventura County
- Kelp beds in northern Los Angeles County
- Central Malibu and the Santa Monica Bay, including the eastern half of Big Kelp Reef
- The waters north of the Palos Verdes peninsula (including Rocky Point)
- All of Orange County, except Laguna
- North San Diego County, including the Oceanside Pier and Solana Beach kelp beds
- Northern La Jolla and Point Loma
- Most of Catalina Island
Click here to download a complete list (and map) of fishing areas left open under the BRTF's compromise plan.
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