Next week a very important meeting will be held in San Diego that stands to lay the groundwork for establishing new Marine Protected Areas along our coastline. The two-day meeting of the Southcoast Regional Stakeholder Group will be one of the first in the area to explore what geographic areas should be considered in this lengthy planning process.
On the table is a master plan for a system of marine parks, reserves and conservation areas - like those already in place at La Jolla Shores and Point Loma. Final recommendations that are likely to include true "protected areas" where fishing would be off limits are likely due in about a year.
The two-day meeting, which could include adopting goals and objectives for the group's effort, is a great opportunity for people who care about the oceans and protecting marine life from overfishing to have their voices heard.
While the prospect for more protected areas doesn't sit particularly well with those who fish commercially or recreationally, there are issues that go beyond just preserving marine life - such as regional water quality - that are being factored into the discussion that should concern everyone.
The presiding body at the meeting includes representatives with interest in conservation, commercial fishing, recreational angling and diving, ports, harbors, government and business.
As the process moves forward, we encourage these officials to look to experts like those at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to be sure their decisions are based on good science.
We're hopeful they are taking advantage of the knowledge gained in developing plans in the regions to the north and are looking at the protected areas of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, where recovery is being seen several years after they were established.
While the agenda is jam-packed and sure to be filled with jargon about "consumptive" and "non-consumptive" activities and goals and objectives, the public is being given a chance to comment both days at 12:30 p.m.
Take advantage of the opportunity if you care about the end result of this effort. This train is moving down the track, so speak up now - whichever side you're on.