Monday, October 19, 2009

Be proactive on ocean protection plan

La Jolla Light
October 14, 2009

Next week the Blue Ribbon Task Force comes together to listen to the public on proposals for Marine Protected Areas off the South Coast - the area from Point Conception to the California/Mexico border. The idea behind setting up the areas, the state legislation states, is to "increase coherence and effectiveness in protecting the state's marine life and habitats, marine ecosystems, and marine natural heritage."

The process has been an inclusive one with an extensive effort to reach out to all "stakeholders," ranging from commercial and recreational fishing to conservation groups, academic, tribal and governmental representatives. There have been casual events, formal hearings and there will be a Task Force session from Oct. 20 to 22.

We applaud the cities of Del Mar and Solana Beach for taking positions in an effort to protect their interests, but we wonder why their San Diego counterparts are so late to the table. It was just last week that they got around to asking questions and holding a committee hearing. Even then, they didn't take a position.

At this point, three options have been put forth:

Proposal 1 would put three miles of Del Mar's shoreline, the San Dieguito and San Elijo lagoons in a Marine Protected Area, meaning there would be no fishing or taking of marine habitat allowed.

Proposal 2 keeps fishing open in La Jolla - with the exception of La Jolla Cove- with protected areas off parts of Point Loma and including most of Del Mar and the San Dieguito Lagoon. This has the support of commercial fishing interests and recreational anglers and at least in passing, the tentative backing of San Diego council members Marti Emerald and Carl DeMaio.

Proposal 3 would have a protected area from Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach to Neptune Park in WindanSea and from La Jolla Cove to Scripps Pier extending three miles out into the Pacific Ocean. It would shift the protected region to an area north of Del Mar. Seal proponents and Coastkeeper are asking that the Children's Pool be included.

Conservationists, including Coastkeeper, want to see Proposal 3 implemented. It also has council support in Del Mar and Solana Beach, although both groups want to make sure that what is finally adopted includes provisions that allow for beach restoration and maintenance. Solana Beach also urged shifting the line about a half-mile north to exclude a wastewater outfall pipe and the San Elijo Lagoon mouth.

We applaud the inclusiveness of the process and those who have made an effort to be heard. We believe it is in our best interest to err with an eye to the future - to protect our fisheries and our future resources. That will take some open and creative minds in the days ahead. But we also hope that compromise is still possible as the environmental reports and final decisions are made.

And remember, your voice can still be heard. The meetings will be held in Long Beach Oct. 20 to 22. Public comments will be heard on Oct. 21. For details go to

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