3 proposals for marine protected areas released

Final stakeholder maps available to public

The public got its first glimpse of three final round stakeholder plans for a south coast network of marine protected areas. The plans were made

available for public review

on Friday.

Each will undergo a thorough economic and scientific review before consideration by the Blue Ribbon Task Force and Fish and Game Commission.

Stakeholders have been working for over a year to map out protected areas that will preserve key habitat while leaving the majority of coastal waters open for fishing. After two rounds of negotiations, the group was divided into three teams: one focused on conservation, one on fishing, and a third “middle ground” team was charged with creating a compromise plan with cross-interest support.

On Sept. 10, they met in Los Angeles to hear two and a half hours of public comment and finalize their plans. The conservation group focused on quality over quantity, designing an efficient network that will deliver quick and substantial benefits with fewer protected areas.

Their plan would protect ecological hot spots like Naples Reef, Point Dume, the western half of Rocky Point, and the southern half of La Jolla’s reef, while leaving nearly 90 percent of coastal waters open for fishing.

The middle ground group worked to balance the needs of different user groups, but still includes some protection for key sites like Point Dume, Naples Reef and La Jolla.

The fishing group’s proposal would provide the least conservation benefits, since it was designed to leave all the best habitat open for consumptive use. The fishermen’s proposal fails to provide any protections at iconic places like La Jolla, the Gaviota Coast, and south Laguna.

The three plans each protect similar percentages of the ocean-the real difference is the quality and diversity of habitat. The higher the quality, the bigger the gains in ecosystem health and productivity that can be expected.

Proposals at a glance:

Number of Marine Protected Areas, total percentage in Marine Protected Areas, number of fully-protected Marine Reserves and total percentage in Marine Reserves

  • Middle Ground (Group 1) 52, 17 percent, 32, 13 percent
  • Fishermen (Group 2) 40, 16 percent, 25, 12 percent
  • Conservationists (Group 3) 43, 17 percent, 30, 12 percent

Stakeholder plans will be evaluated for science and socio-economic impacts before the October 20-22 Blue Ribbon Task Force meeting in Long Beach. The community can submit comments by mail or email, or in person at the October meeting. The Task Force will recommend a preferred plan to the Fish and Game Commission in December for adoption in 2010.
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SOURCE: Department of Fish and Game