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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

DFG Picks October 1 Date to Implement Malibu’s New MPAs

• Litigation Filed by Coalition of Fishing Interests Is Still Pending in San Diego Court

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

The California Fish and Game Commission has named Oct. 1 as the date to implement Southern California's new marine protected areas, including a State Marine Reserve and a State Marine Conservation Area in Malibu.
In a 4-1 vote, DFG Commissioners Richard Rogers, Michael Sutton, Jack Bayless and Jim Kellogg voted to set the Oct. 1 date for the new regulations to go into effect in the South Coast Study Region, which extends from Point Conception in Santa Barbara County to the Mexican border. Commissioner Daniel Richards was the sole dissenting vote.
On Dec. 15, 2010, the commission adopted regulations to create the network of 49 MPAs and three special closures. The implementation plan, which is required as part of the Marine Life Protection Act, was developed over the past two years in a complex series of 50 meetings that involved stakeholders, a science advisory team, and a blue ribbon task force.
The plan that will be implemented in October incorporates 49 MPAs and covers approximately 354 square miles of state waters that represent approximately 15 percent of the region, according to the DFG.
In Malibu, an area stretching from the western end of the Paradise Cove parking lot to the outflow of Zuma Creek will receive the highest level of protection as a State Marine Reserve. The proposed SMR includes a submarine canyon off of Dume Cove described repeatedly by the Science Advisory Team as a rare and vitally important habitat.
The SMR also covers a substantial portion of the hotly contested reefs east of Point Dume, including Big Kelp Reef, a favorite fishing area for kayak anglers and the spearfishing community.
The SMR will be a no-take zone that prohibits all types of fishing. However, fishing boats, including kayaks, would be permitted to transit a SMR with catch on board. The plan's advocates have repeatedly assured the public that non-extractive activities, including surfing and swimming, will not be impacted.
The State Marine Conservation Area will extend west from Zuma Creek to El Matador State Beach. The SMCA would permit limited fishing activities, including recreational spearfishing for Pelagic finfish, Pacific bonito and white seabass, and commercial take of market squid, coastal pelagic finfish and swordfish.
“The regulatory package is being prepared for the Office of Administrative Law and the date selected today allows time for OAL review and approval, finalizing the lawmaking process,” the press release states.
A coalition of fishing interests, including sport fishing clubs and manufacturers of fishing equipment, has filed a lawsuit in an effort to prevent the regulations from going into effect. The Partnership for Sustainable Oceans claims that the MPA network violates the Coastal Act and the California Environmental Quality Act. The litigation is pending in San Diego Superior Court. It is unclear if the case will be heard before the Oct. 1 implementation date.
However, supporters of the MLPA initiative welcomed the Oct. 1 date announcement with enthusiasm.
“Southern California’s quality of life-and many of its jobs and businesses-rely on our coast and ocean. These protections cannot come soon enough,” announced Kaitilin Gaffney of Ocean Conservancy.
“Thousands of south coast residents participated in the planning process for these marine protected areas, and dozens of community efforts are already underway to support education, research, and outreach needs,” said Karen Garrison of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
More information on the Malibu MPAs and the MLPA process is available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/southcoast.asp or www.caloceans.org.

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