A group of 64 “stakeholders” met earlier this month to try to map possible marine protection areas off the Southern California coast, including Orange County’s. This week, the coordinators of the effort released the stakeholders’ work: a total of six maps, meant to be the jumping-off point for a process that might not be resolved until summer 2010.
The stakeholders, including people from the fishing industry, fishing and diving enthusiasts, environmental activists, government officials and others met in Long Beach, where discussions sometimes became heated.
They broke up into three groups, well-mixed so no particular interest could dominate, and each group produced two maps. See all six maps here, plus three maps proposed by interest groups outside the stakeholder group, as well as a map of proposal zero — existing protection areas.
The maps include:
- Red zones that would be state marine reserves, with no fishing or other “take” of living creatures allowed;
- Blue zones that are state marine conservation areas, allowing limited sport and commercial fishing; and
- Yellow zones called state marine parks where some sport fishing would be allowed.
Most of the maps show some restricted fishing off Laguna Beach, several showing substantial red zones there.
It’s a long road, however, to final maps that would be submitted to the state Fish and Game Commission for approval.
“There are three iterations, and this is the first round,” said Melissa Miller-Henson, program manager for the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative.
The proposals will be reviewed by a science advisory panel, as well as state Fish and Game and State Parks. A series of exchanges also will take place between the stakeholder group and a blue ribbon task force assigned to the process. Public workshops also will be held.
In December, at least two proposed maps, plus the “proposal zero” option, are expected to be presented to the state Fish and Game Commission, which could take six to eight months to render a final decision, Miller-Henson said.
“I wouldn’t expect anything before summer of 2010,” she said.