By Dave Schwab, La Jolla Light
December 10, 2009
More than 160 speakers had a minute each on Dec. 9 to tell the Marine Life Protection Act Blue Ribbon Task Force and state Fish and Game Commission what they think about proposals for Marine Protected Areas off limits to fishing along the Southern California coast including La Jolla and coastal North County.
At the onset of the meeting, which included two hours of public comment, Richard Rogers, vice president of the California Fish and Game Commission board said, "What we're here to do today is hear the alternatives from the Blue Ribbon Task Force. We're not here to make a decision on, or adopt, any of those packages."
Rogers said formal adoption of an alternative marine protected area package would play out over three different public meetings to be held in 2010.
"A final decision will probably be late fall or early winter (2010)," he added.
Last month, the five-member state Blue Ribbon Task Force, walking a tightrope between marine conservation and preserving ocean access, chose a hybrid preferred alternative to protect San Diego's coastline that lies between what fishing interests and environmentalists desired.
Proposed for protection is a seven-mile, no-take zone from south La Jolla near WindanSea to Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach, which fishermen warn could "herd" users together into tightly compacted areas. But the panel opted not to create a larger, nine-mile, no-take area straddling La Jolla and Pacific Beach, which scientists had sought as a way to repopulate dwindling fish species.
They also recommended that an area along Swami's beach in Encinitas be designated a State Marine Conservation Area, allowing some types of fishing. The Del Mar-Solana Beach coastline is not included in the designated area and the San Dieguito Lagoon is already designated as a Marine State Park.