Malibu Surfside News

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fish and Game Approves MPA Network that Includes Point Dume

• Regulations Will Be Sent to Office of Administrative Law for Approval Before Taking Effect

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN


The California Fish and Game Commission has voted 3-2 to approve the creation of a network of marine protected areas off the coast of Southern California from Point Conception to the Mexican border.
The decision brings to a close two years of debate and discussion on how the South Coast Study Region, which includes Malibu, should enact the directive mandated in the Marine Life Protection Act to create its share of underwater conservation areas.
The commission opted to adopt the Integrated Preferred Alternative, which will create 36 new MPAs encompassing approximately 187 square miles—eight percent—of state waters in the study region. Approximately 116 square miles—almost 5 percent— have received the highest level of protection, designated no-take state marine reserves and no-take state marine conservation areas.
The remainder has been designated as state marine conservation area with different take allowances and varying levels of protection, according to the DFG staff report.
In addition to approving the MPA regulations, the commission also certified the environmental impact report prepared pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act.
The existing MPAs in the northern Channel Islands, which encompass an additional 168 square miles—seven percent of state waters—in the study region were not modified as part of this decision.
In Malibu, the IPA includes a State Marine Reserve—the highest level of protection—for the waters from just west of Paradise Cove to the outflow of Zuma Creek at Westward Beach, and a State Marine Conservation Area—the next level of protection—for the area between Zuma Creek and El Matador State Beach.
All fishing activities will be prohibited in the SMR, according to the IPA. Limited fishing for certain species will be permitted in the SMCA.
The DFG Commission agreed that the “MPA designation cannot restrict activities that have already received approved regulatory permits.” In the Malibu SMCA “pre-existing and ongoing beach nourishment activities,” including the massive revetment project underway at Broad Beach, will not be impacted by the creation of the MPA.
DFG Commissioners Richard Rogers, Jack Baylis and Michael Sutton voted in favor of the MPA plan, while Commissioners Kellogg and Daniel Richards opposed the proposal.
The vote came at the end of nearly six hours of discussion, debate and public testimony.
Approximately 100 public speakers addressed the FGC before the vote in Santa Barbara on Wednesday. Proponents outnumbered opponents at the meeting more than 3:1.
The proposed Point Dume SMR was one of the most hotly contested portions of the MPA plan, attracting the support of conservation advocates and drawing vociferous opposition from the sportfishing community.
The environmental advocacy group The National Resources Defense Council has described the MPAs as the nation’s first network of underwater parks adjacent to a major urban area, good news for ocean life, and a vital legacy of hope for future generations.
Opponents of the plan say that it is unenforceable and have indicated that they plan to challenge it in court.
The new protections are anticipated to take effect sometime in 2011. More information is available at www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa

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