Thursday, June 25, 2009

Malibu Gets Its First Look at New Marine Life Protection Law

Lively Debate Is Expected to Follow

Malibuites took part in the first public disussion of what might be in store for the local coastline in terms of possible more stringent conservation measures at a public workshop last week that addresed implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act, 10 years after its passage.

The local part of the process is called the South Coast Project. This is a regional stakeholders group and blue ribbon panel that is developing alternative protection proposals for public comment.

Several plans involving reserve areas and other Marine Protection Areas or MPAs have been developed for Malibu.

Of nearly dozens of arrays recommended for Malibu, there will be several layers of reviews by various groups, which will be subject to public hearings before a final overlay district is recommended to the state Fish and Game Commission for consideration.

Potential MPAs for the Southland, including Malibu, have been submitted for various evaluations. A science advisory team will look at the proposals, as will the state Department of Fish and Game. Guidance is provided by the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force, whose membership includes former Malibu City Council member Ken Kearsley.

A final set of recommendations will be developed by October of 2009 for consideration by the state Fish and Game Commission.

The presentation held last week at City Hall was not part of the formal process and not one of the meetings where folks could give public comment.

The 20-minute presentation that was followed by questions and answers dealt with the history of the MLPA since it was approved by state lawmakers in 1999.

Malibuites learned about the specific goals of the act and the different designations for protection.

The process, in the main, deals with levels of extraction in terms of the taking of marine life.
A State Marine Reserve prohibits all extractive activities, and at the same time may limit access and human activities including walking, swimming, boating and snorkeling. Some diving may be restricted.

A State Marine Conservation Area limits recreational and or commercial extractive activities. In a SMCA, the managing agency may permit research, education and recreational activities, and certain commercial and recreational harvest of marine resources.

A State Marine Park prohibits all commercial extractive activities and potentially some recreational activities. Any human use that would compromise protection of the species of interest, natural community or habitat or geological, cultural or recreational features may be restricted by the managing agency.

All of the protected areas may permit research, education and monitoring.

The process for designating MPAs has been completed for the North Coast and the Central Coast. The Central Coast includes the Northern Channel Islands.

There are several proposals being talked about in Malibu. Attendees were shown maps that can be accessed at the website The maps show the proposed arrays. Attendees were told most public piers are exempt from the MPAs, but not private piers are not.

Various configurations were shown for Point Dume and the stretch of coast along the coves to Paradise Cove. Some of the proposals showed most or some of Big Dume Cove included in either a SMR or SMCA.

Malibuites were urged to keep their eyes open for a series of open houses held this summer, none in Malibu, where the public will be allowed to review the MPAs, comment on the draft MPAs and provide input on particular areas of interest. The closest open houses will be in Oxnard on July 8 and Marina Del Rey on July 7.

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