Malibu's New Marine Protected Areas Implemented without Hitch
• MLPA Proponent Announces He Is Leaving Advocacy Group for Position at UCLA
BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN
The California Department of Fish and Game implemented Southern California's new network of Marine Protected Areas—including two MPAs in Malibu—on Jan. 1 without fanfare. A low-key celebration is planned by Heal the Bay on Jan. 21, featuring a beach cleanup at Westward Beach at 12:30 p.m., followed by a nature walk at Point Dume State Park at 1 p.m. and an education booth on the beach. New education programs are anticipated to emerge as the program is more firmly established.
A legal action filed by a coalition of sportfishing interests continues to attempt to challenge implementation, but at Point Dume, where a State Marine Reserve that prohibits all fishing activities is now in effect from the western end of Paradise Cove to the outflow of Zuma Creek, the attitude appears to be one of acceptance or perhaps apathy. A group of spearfishers observed fishing in Little Dume Cove on Jan. 10 appeared unconcerned, or perhaps unaware, of the new restrictions. Waves, not fish, were the apparent subject of most beach conversations the week following implementation.
A handful of anonymous hot pink tags made a minor stir in Paradise Cove, when they materialized attached to kayaks and surfboards, warning: "Your vessel is moored in a Marine Protected Area (MPA) and may adversely impact marine life. You are hereby given notice to remove your vessel within seven days or face fines/impounding."
Officials have dismissed the tags, which bear no official seals or contact information other than the words "MPA Patrol," as a half-hearted effort to generate controversy.
Heal the Bay, which operates a volunteer citizen science MPA stewardship program called MPA Watch, issued the following statement:
"It has come to Heal the Bay's attention that some kayaks in the Malibu area have been tagged with a notice that states they are not allowed to be moored or placed on the beach within the newly established marine protected areas (MPAs) near Point Dume. These tags contain inaccurate information and are of unknown origin.
"MPAs allow for the mooring of vessels or any other non-consumptive use activities, such as surfing, kayaking, diving and sailing. Heal the Bay and other organizations are involved in marine protected area monitoring, but not enforcement. Enforcement is being conducted by the Department of Fish and Game. Refer to the Department of Fish and Game website for information on MPAs..."
Heal the Bay president and passionate MPA proponent Mark Gold chose the week following MPA implementation to announce that he will be leaving the organization after 23 years to assume a leadership post at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.
"He has deep ties there," writes Heal the Bay representative Matthew King. "He's been an adjunct professor for a number of years—and this is a chance for him to grow professionally. It's been in the works for a while and he will remain on our board, so we can continue to tap into his expertise.
According to King, the board of directors will be meeting shortly to finalize the management structure of Heal the Bay moving forward. "Longtime executive director Karin Hall and associate director Alix Hobbs, who have been here more than 10 years, will provide day to day management and organizational supervision," King said.
"So for Heal the Bay, it really is business as usual. The core team of directors will continue to work on upcoming initiatives —MPA implementation, plastic bag ban in city of Los Angeles, the Environmental Education Initiative, Earth Month, etc."
Whether the newly created MPAs will function as envisioned remains to be seen, but proponents are optimistic, calling the new parks an "underwater Yosemite."