Torrance Daily Breeze
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors moved Tuesday to support a hybrid plan that would prohibit fishing off Malibu's Point Dume while keeping a favorite Palos Verdes Peninsula fishing ground open.
The board voted in favor of creating a state marine reserve off Malibu but against offering the same protections to Rocky Point, a destination for South Bay commercial and recreational fishermen.
The vote was seen as a compromise between positions taken by conservationists and fishing interests.
Dozens of environmental activists and residents who fish, boat, kayak and dive off the coast argued before the board about which parts of the coastline should be protected or left open.
The board's action is intended to influence the decision of a state task force that will make a final recommendation as to which areas throughout the state should be protected under the Marine Life Protection Act. The California Fish and Game Commission has final say over protections under the 10-year-old law.
The Marine Life Protection Act was adopted in 1999 in response to extreme overfishing of coastal waters. Fish stocks remain depressed, according to data offered by the state Department of Fish and Game.
Under an initiative that has divided the state coastline into five sections with the goal of implementing the act, dozens of stakeholders have created three competing plans for closures in an area stretching from Santa Barbara County to the Mexico border.
The three plans - drafted by fishing interests, conservationists and a compromise group - each specified areas where fishing would be prohibited or curtailed.
State marine reserves prohibit all fishing. Another designation, state marine conservation area, allows for limited fishing.
Tuesday's action by the board reflects support for the compromise position in Malibu and the plan favored by fishing interests for areas off the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
The most environmentally friendly plan in Malibu would extend the reserve to Zuma Beach and add fishing restrictions off Broad Beach.
The most aggressive plan excluded Point Dume and instead protected areas near Malibu Lagoon State Beach and Big Sycamore Canyon.
In addition to hurting those who fish, the compromise plan "will be a death knell for kayakers," one resident warned.
But many, including Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and representatives from nonprofit Heal the Bay, supported the compromise.
"I would have preferred (the most protective plan) myself, personally," Yaroslavsky said. But he backed limiting the protection to Point Dume, saying it would "support a diversity of marine life while leaving areas east and west open for fishing."
"Reaching this compromise was not easy," said Sarah Sikich of Heal the Bay, apparently referencing the Malibu plan specifically.
Yaroslavsky's proposal was offered together with Supervisor Don Knabe and excluded Rocky Point based on "its unique character as a critical socioeconomic and cultural resource," according to documentation the two supervisors provided to their colleagues.
The Rocky Point area has long been a battleground between sport and commercial fisherman and conservationists. The fishermen's economic arguments have gained resonance in today's difficult economic climate.
The unanimous 5-0 vote directs staff to send a letter to the Marine Life Protection Act Blue Ribbon Task Force detailing the board's position. Having been unable to craft a final recommendation at a lengthy meeting last month, the task force is expected to select its preferred alternative Tuesday.
The Fish and Game Commission is expected to make a final decision in December.
Fish and game commissioners have accepted the task force's proposals for other parts of the state with few modifications, according to published reports.
Want to go?
What: The Blue Ribbon Task Force is set to vote on a proposal to close fishing areas in Southern California.
Where: Sheraton Gateway Hotel, 6101 West Century Blvd., Westchester
When: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10