Marine Protection Option for South Coast Finally Goes to DFG
• Task Force Recommendations Are Usually Followed But Contentiousness Is Anticipated
BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN
BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN
After months of discussion and debate and an unexpected extra session in November, the Marine Life Protection Act South Coast Region Blue Ribbon Task Force will present its final proposal next week for a series of Marine Protected Areas planned for the Southern California Coast to the California Department of Fish and Game, the agency overseeing the state-mandated MPA process. Time for public input has been scheduled for the Dec. 8 meeting.
On Nov. 10, the BRTF unanimously approved a motion to forward the MLPA South Coast Integrated Preferred Alternative marine protected area proposal as the selection for the study region. The preferred alternative includes both a State Marine Reserve and a State Conservation Area in west Malibu. The SMR, an area with the highest level of protection that would prohibit all fishing activities, would extend from the western end of Paradise Cove to the outflow of Zuma Creek.
“This stretch of coast encompasses some of the most diverse habitats in Los Angeles County, including an upwelling zone, submarine canyon habitat, unique spur and groove reef structures, extensive kelp, and diverse understory algal habitat,” states the Marine Protected Area description. “This is also an area of high species diversity. There is long-term monitoring and research opportunities in this area.”
The proposed SMCA would extend from Zuma Creek to the western end of El Matador Beach. This area would allow the recreational take of pelagic finfish, Pacific bonito and white sea bass, as well as commercial take of coastal pelagic finfish, market squid and swordfish. All other fishing would be prohibited.
A Chumash co-managed SMCA proposed for Nicholas Beach, where the Wishtoyo Foundation’s Chumash Demonstration Village is located, was tabled earlier in the process, but the preferred alternative leaves the door open for Chumash participation at the Point Dume MPA.
“This is also an area that plays a significant role in Chumash maritime culture, it is ideally suited for tribal co-management to promote education and outreach, marine stewardship, and Chumash maritime cultural preservation and revitalization,” the report states.
The preferred alternative includes a recommendation made by the stakeholders group that “DFG explore establishing Chumash co- management for this SMCA/SMR complex. Chumash government and non- government entities will seek to formulate [memos of understanding] with appropriate State departments, e.g., Fish and Game and Parks and Recreation for education and outreach, marine stewardship, and Chumash cultural preservation.”
The preferred alternative also includes a recommendation encouraging “a formal naming process, which both the parks commission and the fish and game commission have for exploring the use of Native American names…” although it concludes that “it is beyond the mission of the BRTF to engage in that naming process.”
According to Chumash representative and Wishtoyo Foundation founder and executive director Mati Waiya, Point Dume was once an important shrine site for the Chumash. Although the Chumash name is lost, the area still yields archeological evidence of thousands of years of Chumash presence.
The BRTF is also recommending that MOUs be used “among the various enforcement and managerial agencies, both those that are already exist in this entire region, with the departments of Fish and Game and State Parks; there is incredible potential there. It has been shown to work in the Channel Islands and there is good will and experience here in this region.”
In addition to the preferred alternative, the final three stakeholder proposals will also be submitted to the DFG, although in the two previous regions to undergo the MPLA process, the DFG accepted the BRTF recommendations with few changes.
The meeting will take place on Dec. 8, at the Radisson Hotel at Los Angeles Airport 6225 West Century Blvd. Public comment will commence at 10 a.m. More information is available at www.dfg.ca.gov