Monday, November 9, 2009

Laguna Beach residents choose local economy over marine closures

BYM Marine & Maritime News
November 8, 2009

Because of continuing concerns about closures of California's coastal fishing areas, California's recreational fishing community decided to examine the City of Laguna Beach residents' attitudes towards ocean closures. The intent was to take a reading of public opinion on the issues surrounding the non-binding measure passed 4-1 by the City Council on June 16, 2009 to endorse the establishment of a marine reserve along the Laguna shoreline. The reserve would prohibit recreational fishing along Laguna Beach's shoreline under California's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA).

As part of that process, a city-wide survey of active voters sponsored by the American Sportfishing Association on behalf of the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans (PSO) was conducted by California-based Research Analytics & Strategy.

When respondents were asked their opinion about increasing regulation and protection of the Laguna Beach shoreline versus the potential negative impact to local businesses, respondents chose to reject increased shoreline protection in support of local businesses by nearly 20 percentage points.

Beyond their support of the local economy, and above increased coastal protections, respondents in even greater percentages supported the continuation of recreational fishing along the Laguna Beach shoreline, and in all cases rejected eliminated recreational fishing.

The survey executive summary is posted online for public review.

"California's recreational fishing community has expressed concern that while the MLPA initiative process may have laudable objectives, precedent suggests that for practical purposes, closures are permanent with few if any opportunities to re-open debate and that closure does not necessarily equal increased protection," said Patty Doerr, Ocean Resource Policy Director for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), a PSO member. "The public and recreational fishermen are skeptical that marine reserves and marine protected areas are necessary tools for protecting California's ocean health. In fact, recent studies have shown that California's fisheries are some of the least exploited in the world. California's fishery management policies and habitat protection measures are working."


Independent of each other, respondents rank Laguna Beach's local economy, and the environment very high.

The majority of respondents consider themselves strong to very strong environmentalists.

In relationship to each other, concerns for local jobs and local businesses far outweigh concerns for expanding marine and habitat protections along the Laguna Beach coastline.

Respondents are willing to accept the minor impacts from recreational fishing along the Laguna Beach shoreline.

Respondents overwhelmingly reject the proposed elimination of recreational fishing in order to expand the protections for marine habitat.

History of the MLPA
The 1999 Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) mandated that the state of California design and manage an improved network of marine protected areas to, among other things; protect marine life and habitats, marine ecosystems, and marine natural heritage. Marine protected areas include marine reserves, marine parks and marine conservation areas.

To implement the original legislation the state created the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative, with its Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF), Scientific Advisory Team (SAT), and Regional Stakeholder Groups (RSG) to make recommendations to the California Fish and Game Commission. The commission will decide which coastal areas are placed off limits to fishermen and the general public.

Currently, the BRTF is considering proposals for the South California coast. The Partnership for Sustainable Oceans supports Proposal 2 because it balances additional ocean conservation while minimizing adverse economic impacts. The BRTF is scheduled to meet on November 10, in Los Angeles to finalize a preferred alternative which would then be sent to the California Fish and Game Commission for consideration.

About the Survey
A survey of active voters in Laguna Beach, Ca., was conducted on behalf of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) by Research Analytics & Strategy. The overall objective of the survey was to take a reading of public opinion on the issues surrounding the non-binding measure passed 4-1 by the City Council on June 16 to endorse the establishment of a marine reserve, which would prohibit recreational fishing under the MLPA.

California-based Research Analytics & Strategy is the public opinion and survey research company founded by Media & Associates. The company has been conducting survey research and creating survey models throughout California for over fifteen years. Contact Kevin Reikes, Research Analytics & Strategy, 916-448-1995, for more information.

The American Sportfishing Association, based in Alexandria, Virginia, is a national trade association working to ensure the future of fisheries resources and to promote recreational and sportfishing to the American public.

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