By Olivia Damavandi / Staff Writer
Activities could be restricted at the beaches if they are included in marine protected areas by the state.
Malibu residents gathered at City Hall last week to give input and receive information about the Marine Life Protection Act, which could possibly affect access and activities, such as fishing, at Westward Beach, Point Dume and Paradise Cove. No final decisions will be made until the end of this year.
The MLPA is a state-required program pending adoption to improve and preserve marine ecosystems. Enacted by the state in 1999, the act seeks to create additional marine protection areas-separate marine or estuarine areas designed to protect marine life and habitat-that would limit or prohibit human access and certain activities.
Despite the good intentions of the MLPA, some residents worry that it will deny them access to certain beaches. The protection act could also pose an economic impact on coastal businesses by prohibiting fishing and boat tours, among other activities.
"We've got to try to meet the needs of everyone," Ken Kearsley, a former city council member who serves on one of the committees involved in the implementation of the MLPA, said Tuesday. "The commercial fishermen, because its their livelihood, the sports fishermen, kayakers and the environment.
"California currently has three types of marine protected areas, listed in decreasing levels of recreational public utilization: state marine reserves, state marine parks and state marine conservation areas. Depending on the level of stringency, the areas could prohibit a wide range of activities, from walking on tide pools to spear fishing.
Kearsley said the act would be advantageous to the city because "we will be able to administer and control some of the offshore resources of Malibu."
Residents Judith Guillemont and Suzanne and Hans Zimmer in recent letters to the state expressed their desire for Point Dume to be made into a marine reserve.
"We strongly believe that a marine reserve at Point Dume is mandatory for the survival of Malibu ... tourists flock to the beaches of Malibu, and Point Dume is an international travel destination," Guillemont wrote. "If Point Dume remains unprotected, and its ecosystems and marine life continues to dwindle, as is happening now at accelerated rates, how will we be able to remain a viable community?"
However, Kearsley was also quick to mention that many residents will oppose the marine protected areas.
"In the most restricted areas there's no taking, including spear fishing," Kearsley said. "You can't even throw a [fishing] line in. If Paradise Cove or Point Dume is closed off, there will be a lot of people upset in Malibu."
South Coast summer public open houses will be conducted throughout June and July at various locations where informational stations will be available, and the public can review and comment on draft marine protected area proposals. The closest open houses will be in Marina Del Rey on July 7, at the Marina Del Rey Hotel, 13534 Bali Way, and July 8 at the Residence Inn, 2101 W. Vineyard Ave., Oxnard. The open houses take place between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
More information can be obtained by calling 916.654.1885 or online at www.dfg.ca.gov/mpla