SD doesn’t take position on MLPA proposals

Environmentalists and commercial and recreational fishermen sparred last week over whether to protect designated San Diego offshore areas, including parts of La Jolla, by declaring them off limits to fishing.

At issue before the City Council’s Natural Resources and Culture Committee, which heard testimony but took no action, was a resolution from San Diego Coastkeeper, a nonprofit environmental water watchdog group, asking the council to endorse the most restrictive of three proposed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

Under Proposal 3, the Marine Protected Area proposed for La Jolla would extend from Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach to Neptune Park in WindanSea and from La Jolla Cove to Scripps Pier extending three miles out into the Pacific Ocean. Maps and other information on all three proposals can be found at

Coastkeeper is also asking the California Department of Fish & Game to include La Jolla’s Children’s Pool in the upcoming draft environmental impact report for the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). The 10-year-old state legislation requires reevaluation and redesign of California’s system of marine protected areas.

First District Councilwoman Sherri Lighner said community groups in her district need time to weigh in on the MPA proposals.

Time is quickly running out. The MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force is scheduled to vote on which marine protected area proposal it will recommend at a meeting in Long Beach Oct. 20-22.

Jason Everitt of Coastkeeper pitched the council committee on the virtues of adopting a protected area.

“We’re asking the council to support a resolution supporting the strongest possible scientific-based network of marine protected areas including La Jolla, and move the resolution forward for a full City Council vote,” he said. “Scientific studies have found that fish are larger, more abundant and more diverse with such protected areas.”

Everitt contended there are several myths about San Diego’s ocean ecosystem, one being that it is presently healthy.

“Ninety percent of all the fish are gone,” he said. “Fishermen’s catch is less than half of what was caught in 1990. Seventy-five percent of the kelp forests have vanished over the last 50 years.”

Murphy, who represented surfing interests, testified that commercial fishing has “taken all the big fish” and argued the creation of MPAs is the only way to restore the natural balance.

“We want to create more fish for fishermen in our future,” he said. “Our long-term goal is a network of protected areas.”

There were 42 speaker slips for commercial and recreational fishermen, who wanted to speak in support of Proposal 2. That option would keep fishing open in La Jolla, with the exception of the already protected La Jolla Cove, creating marine reserves off Del Mar and parts of Point Loma instead.

A parade of fisherman of all stripes, commercial and not, testified that adopting the most restrictive MPA would harm anglers, seriously cut into commercial profits and be a huge drag on the local economy during a time of severe recession.

Spear fisherman Grant Milbrand spoke for all those opposing Proposal 3.

“I do not support taking away fair access when it’s not necessary,” he said. “The economic impact would be devastating. Don’t cut the legs out from under the industry. Don’t throw the cultural heritage of San Diego out the window for no good reason.”

Councilwoman Marti Emerald wasn’t sold on adopting the most restrictive MPA.

“This doesn’t cut it,” she said. “I think you’re trying to run a number on us. You really didn’t make your case. You told us you’ve got the science, but you didn’t give us the science today.”

“If this goes to full council for action I’m going to be standing behind our fishing industry,” said Councilman Carl DiMaio. “We have lost a tremendous amount of jobs in the industry here in San Diego already and we can’t afford to lose any more.”

San Diego has the world’s largest sportfishing fleet and substantial commercial fishing operations.

Related posts:

  1. Proposals for MLPA include Del Mar
  2. Three final MLPA proposals being considered
  3. 3 proposals for marine protected areas released
  4. San Diego council won’t take stand on marine protected areas
  5. Council backs third MLPA option

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