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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fish and Game to Vote on Plan to Create MPAs per 1999 State Law

• Opponents of Malibu Proposal Continue to Roil the Waters and Vow to Fight Any Fishing Curbs


After two years of discussion and spirited debate, the California Department of Fish and Game Commission will be voting this week in Santa Barbara on the state-mandated plan to create 35 new Southern California Marine Protected Areas to meet the requirements of the Marine Life Protection Act, which was passed by California legislators in 1999.
The Final Environmental Impact Report for the project, released last week, states that the network of Marine Protected Areas proposed for the Southern California Coast from Point Conception to the Mexican border is compliant with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act and will not have a negative impact on the environment or people of California.
After extending the comment period for an additional 15 days, the Department of Fish and Game has approved the Final Environmental Impact Report for the South Coast Region’s Marine Life Protection Act’s Implementation Plan with only minor changes from the draft version.
The massive report, which incorporates thousands of pages of findings, including more than 1000 letters from hundreds of agencies, organizations and individuals, received only minor changes from the draft EIR released in August.
Although the FEIR examines all five MLPA alternatives, ranging from maintaining the status quo through various stakeholder group proposals developed during the MLPA implementation process, observers say that a version of the final Integrated Preferred Alternative, or IPA, is expected to be adopted at the meeting.
In Malibu, the IPA includes a State Marine Reserve, the highest level of protection, for the waters from just west of Paradise Cove to Point Dume, and a State Marine Conservation Area—the next level of protection—for the area between Point Dume and Zuma creek.
The Malibu SMR, which includes Point Dume’s submarine canyon and a portion of kelp forests and reefs popular with kayak anglers and divers, would extend “from the shore due north-south along the 118 53.00 W to state waters” with the eastern boundary running “from shore along the 118 49.00 W to state waters,” according to the FEIR.
The SMR designation means that “the take of all marine resources would be prohibited,” except under “a permit or specific authorization from the managing agency for research, restoration or monitoring purposes.”
The Malibu SMCA is defined as extending “along the shore due north-south along the 118 53.20 W to state waters; the eastern boundary runs from shore along the 118 49.00 W to state waters.” At the SMCA, “the take of all living marine resources is prohibited except the recreational take of pelagic finfish, Pacific bonito and white sea bass by spearfishing. The commercial take of coastal pelagic finfish by pelagic round haul nets; market squid by pelagic round haul nets; market squid by dip net; and swordfish by harpooning,” according to the FEIR process.
The proposed Point Dume SMR has drawn vociferous opposition from the sport fishing community.
The FEIR addresses the concern raised by the United Anglers of Southern California that the Point Dume MRA will eliminate kayak fishing activities at Paradise Cove. “Point Dume is one of the most weather and wave protected areas in the SCSR,” one letter states. “The Paradise Cove area has been a long time very popular fishing area due to the protected waters in the lee of Point Dume. The area to the west is also very important waters and considerable economic pain to many stakeholders results at that end,” another letter, signed by UASC President Steven Fukuto, says. “This area is the area of operation of two kayaking fishing schools.”
“Point Dume rocks represent one of the premiere spearfishing experiences in the world,” wrote Fukoto. “The promontory at Point Dume is frequently visited by yellowtail, white seabass, bonito and occasionally bluefin tuna. The public parking lot provides a rare opportunity for the shore-based diver easy swimming distance access to this opportunity. A diver can pull off the Pacific Coast Highway, park, suit up, and swim to the rocks in altogether about 15 to 20 minutes. It is an experience that the divers very dearly do not want to lose.”
The FEIR suggests that there are other alternatives. “While Point Dume [offers] protected areas for such fishing, other areas in the SCSR could accommodate these fisheries that are equally available, accessible, and protective; however, it not possible to predict where fisherman would choose to relocate. If fisherman are displaced to less protected waters, potential hazards may be present. However, such hazards may not represent adverse significant impacts if mitigation such as proper equipment and precautions are used.
The FEIR also states that fishing is a privilege, not a right.
“The so-called ‘right to fish’ is neither absolute nor fundamental, but has been characterized by the courts as only a ‘privilege’ or a ‘qualified right’ subject to the Legislature’s regulation of fishing,” the FEIR states. “The California Supreme Court has long declared that the power to regulate fishing has always existed as an aspect of the inherent power of the Legislature to regulate the terms under which a public resource may be taken by private citizens.”
Comments in the FEIR by California Coastal Commission staff also addressed access issues. raised during the stakeholder phase of the MLPAI process.
“ It is the Commission staff’s understanding that the proposed designation of state
marine reserves and state marine conservation areas in southern California would in no way impede or limit the ability of the public to access, enter, transit or visit coastal areas including beaches, intertidal areas and nearshore and offshore waters,” wrote Cassidy Teufel, a CCC Coastal Program Analyst.
“In many locations the designation of state marine reserves and state marine conservation areas will serve to encourage the visitation and non-consumptive recre“ Cassidy Teufel, a CCC Coastal Program Analyst, wrote “Non-consumptive recreational activities such as beach visitation, wildlife viewing, surfing, diving, kayaking and boating will not be restricted or prohibited from occurring within any of the marine protected areas currently being considered.”
Readers can check the Malibu Surfside News online Thursday for an update on the meeting’s outcome at Video of the entire meeting is available at www.

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