Thursday, April 16, 2009

Save Our Coast Asks Malibu City Council to Put Brakes on Endorsement of Marine Reserves

Malibu Surfside News

By Bill Koeneker

Former Councilmember Ken Kearsley, a member of Save Our Coast, which had sought unsuccessfully years ago to create a state- sanctioned sanctuary in Malibu, and who is on one of the committees involved in implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act, came to Malibu City Council chambers recently to ask members to put on the brakes for a resolution supporting a marine reserve for all of Malibu.

The state adopted the act to provide protection for marine life and marine ecosystems by utilizing some forms of protection of various marine habitats.

Kearsley cautioned that all of the coastline of Malibu could become a no-take zone, meaning no sport fishing or surf fishing would be allowed.

Kearsley said it is important for everybody to wait for the science report to come back before endorsements are made.“We have no dog in this fight. But we have citizens who like to fish and visitors who use the pier,” he said, warning the council would be endorsing a marine reserve for all of Malibu if it adopted the resolution in front of them.

“What you are saying is a no-take. It is premature. Wait for the science,” he added.

Councilmember Sharon Barvosky said she would hate to see no fishing off the pier.

Kearsley said the council could exercise flexibility by calling for marine protected areas. The council concurred.

The resolution before the council “urges the use of fully protected marine reserves to the fullest extent practical to ensure the health of California’s marine resources for future generations.”

A representative from Heal the Bay took no exception to Kearsley’s comments, saying it was OK to do so until the commissioned report about California waters is returned.

The MLPA will continue its public process to complete recommendations for a statewide network of marine protected areas. The task force is charged with developing recommendations for marine protected areas in the south coast, as well as identifying ways to improve state and federal coordination.

The MLPA, enacted in 1999, directs the state to design and manage a system of MPAs in order to protect marine life and habitats and ecosystems as well as improve recreational, educational and study opportunities provided by marine ecosystems. MPAs are discrete geographic marine or estuarine areas designed to protect or conserve marine life and habitat, according to the state Department of Fish and Game.

1 comment:

  1. Are MPA’s the Right Choice for California?

    The City Of Malibu, and others, are under the impression California’s marine resources are in need of drastic measures in order to save our marine resources. Aside from this viewpoint being the banner and war cry of agenda driven organizations, it is absolutely wrong and misguided. The next words we are likely to hear are always the desire and goal of “sustainable fisheries” and “for our future generations”.
    The use of MPA’s will only make sustainability impossible and only deny access of future generations to enjoy California’s marine environment.
    Sustainability, in and of itself, is only part of the equation. Along with sustainability we must consider viability. If participation in a fishery is no longer viable or “worth it”, we have lost the roots of what everyone is trying to achieve; and that is a viable, sustainable, healthy, marine environment able to allow meaningful viable harvest and enjoyment for the people of California.
    By incorporating the use of MPA’s along California’s coastline where 18 to 25% of the cost is secured in no take or limited take geographies we are making viable sustainability impossible. MPA’s are placed in such a manner that over 70% of the most productive grounds are contained within these 18 to 25% geographies.
    At this time we have a functioning balanced ecosystem that is working harmoniously with all its diverse habitats and biota in the absence of massive MPA’s. Now consider modifying parts of this ecosystem with MPA’s dispersed along the coastline where take and no take geographies alternately placed along the coastline. Factor in the consumptive workforce effort that will remain the same, or increase with time, and realize the effort of consumptive users will now be forced to focus all its energies on the areas outside MPA’s open to consumptive practices. It becomes very clear resource depletion in areas outside MPA’s will become the norm due to this imbalanced ecosystem management approach.
    Fisheries managers will now be forced to further regulate these areas with more bag and size restrictions and force fisheries to become no longer viable.
    Fisheries managers are also going to have less overall area to manage and work from in order to have enough available specific geography to provide viable and meaningful participation for consumptive marine uses by the people of California.
    Another aspect of creating this ecosystem imbalance can be described as creating a disproportionate abundance scenario unable to function as a complete ecosystem able to work as a whole. Where consumption was balanced there was a balanced level of interaction from all geographies. Without that balance there is only dependence upon the MPA’s for all biological production for the sustainability of consumable resources.
    In essence, we have taken a MPA, namely California waters, and created an ecological imbalance to such a degree there is no longer a functioning ecosystem at large. This is a dangerous direction to take and should be approached with great caution, if at all.
    Claims of spillover are founded on MPA practices developed for coral reef habitat and have a good chance of actually working in that particular environment. This is due to the generic nature of the coastline involved being continuous coral reef with no significant habitat variation along its length and not much variability in oceanic conditions for long periods of time.
    Conversely, California and the entire West coast of the United States, is in no way similar to this type of continuous generic coastline and should not use methodologies used in tropical coral reef fisheries management. California has a very diverse habitat structure going from sandy beaches to high relief structure to muddy bottom to gravel from deep canyons to large plateaus as well as very complex and ever changing oceanic conditions.
    Often we see proposed MPA’s cited in the current process that encompass entire reef structures eliminating any type of spillover to be realized even if it were realistic.
    This scenario forces consumptive users to seek other species found in different habitat for consumption outside of MPA’s. Again we will see unusual depletion of these resources found in this particular habitat and will again see the need for more and more regulations in order to properly manage this resource. We will also once again see an unusual imbalance in species composition and be subject to the overall effects throughout the entire ecosystem.
    If you think any of this is unrealistic consider the current restrictions on salmon, and rockfish. The unusual effort shift has been noticeable toward other species such as halibut, sand dabs, slime eels, striped bass, and others. Although these species are normally consumed, they are now being unusually impacted and are likely to be harvested to below sustainable levels before current management practices take effective action.
    A current management practice has been a “wait and see” kind of approach and does not use scientific fact as a tool. This approach is not wise and opens the door to the need for drastic management measures.
    All of this said does not take into consideration the role California’s resources play into the economy of this State. Although much of the above pertains to consumptive activities found in this State, both recreational and commercial, the economic element is not indicated.
    NOAA has released a document stating the economic contribution to California’s economy from consumptive uses is in excess of $11 billion dollars and employs over 200,000 people. The extensive use of MPA’s as a management tool threatens this contribution, in part, and weights heavily on the viability of future consumptive participation by the people of California.
    It would be a tragic shame if California and its people fall prey to an outdated, extremely expensive, and overzealous law whose intent may have been honorable and seem logical but in practice is by no means in the best interest of this State’s resources, or its people.
    Common sense management aided with scientific fact using the entire ecosystem is the key to successful, long term, viable, sustainability of our beloved California marine waters.
    The question is, are we ready to “do it right”, and do it “right now”.

    Ed Tavasieff