By Jonathan Volzke & Andrea Swayne, San Clemente Times
November 26-December 2, 2009
Local fishing-industry representatives are expressing disappointment with a recommendation to close part of South Orange County’s coast to fishing under the Marine Life Protection Act. The boundaries for the recommended closures were developed during an 18-month process that included panels of scientists and local stakeholders.
The BRTF proposal does not restrict public access or recreational enjoyment, such as boating, swimming, diving or kayaking. The plan allows existing commercial and recreational fishing to continue in the majority of the region, including at Rocky Point along the Palos Verdes Peninsula, while strengthening ecosystem protection at a number of key geographies such as Point Dume in Malibu and the Laguna Beach coastline.
But members of the fishing industry say the recommendation goes too far.
“If this decision if adopted will hurt our local 100-year-old lobster fishing legacy that has been healthy and sustainable,” said Rodger Healy, California Lobster and Fishermen’s Association President which represents approximately 230 individual commercial lobstermen. He said it will displace 50 percent of his traps.
Donna Kalez of Dana Wharf Sportfishing, said the recommendation is disappointing. “We will work around any closure but of course we are disappointed with this 5-mile closure from Laguna Lido north to Irvine Point. It will impact our choices on where we, and other local fishing vessels, fish. This impact will be felt financially in Dana Point Harbor and across the fishing industry at a time where we cannot take much more.”
The recommendations will be presented to the California Fish and Game Commission on December 9 in Los Angeles. The commission’s regulatory process to adopt south coast protection areas is expected to take about one year and includes numerous opportunities for public input.
Maps and descriptions of the specific Marine Protection Areas included in the recommendation were due to be posted on the MLPA Web site last week. See www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa.