Skip to comments.Troubled waters - Plan to increase California's marine protected areas worries fishing industry
Posted on 09/17/2006 1:53:21 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
Aided by a governor who has promised to preserve the coast, California is expanding its network of areas where fishing and other marine harvesting are banned or restricted.
The idea is to better safeguard the diversity and abundance of marine life by limiting those activities in key habitats such as lagoons, bays, kelp forests, rocky reefs and the edges of marine canyons.
California already has 80 marine protected areas covering about 4 percent of state waters, but scientists agree that most of those sites are too small to help depleted species rebound.
No other state in the Union has done anything comparable to this, said Warner Chabot, vice president of the Ocean Conservancy, a nonpartisan preservation group. What's happening is comparable to 100 years ago, when Teddy Roosevelt made a bold and visionary decision to create national parks and wilderness areas.
The state's ambitious and hotly contested marine plan will be showcased this week at the California and the World Ocean conference in Long Beach, which begins tomorrow. The event is expected to draw more than 1,000 scientists and ocean policy experts, as well as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Last month, the state Fish and Game Commission tentatively approved 29 protected areas encompassing 204 square miles of ocean off Central California between Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco, and Santa Barbara.
About 8 percent of the space would be designated as no take marine reserves, where nothing can be removed, while the remainder would allow some form of recreational or commercial fishing.
An environmental impact report must be completed and approved by the commission before the Central Coast plan can be finalized.
In October, the commissioners will meet in San Diego to decide whether to work next to expand marine protected areas between Santa Barbara and the U.S.-Mexico border or to focus on areas north of Half Moon Bay. San Diego County already has 10 of those zones.
State officials aim to create a network of protected areas, each measuring at least 9 square miles, by 2011. California has no minimum size for such sites; some current ones are just several hundred square feet.
The revised system will have three forms of protection: no-take marine reserves; marine parks, where recreational fishing and some harvesting of aquatic species are permitted; and marine conservation areas, where certain harvesting and a mix of recreational and commercial fishing are allowed.
Passage of the Marine Life Protection Act in 1999 triggered efforts to revamp protected areas statewide. Those attempts stalled during Gov. Gray Davis' administration because of a lack of state funding and considerable opposition from fishing interests.
Eighteen months ago, Schwarzenegger accepted an offer of $7 million from private foundations to resurrect plans for overhauling the protected areas. In the past year, his office has received more than 31,000 letters and e-mails about the issue.
On the scale of political volatility, it's thermonuclear, said Brian Baird, assistant secretary for ocean and coastal policy at the state Resources Agency.
Commercial fishermen say the reserves will squeeze them out of prime fishing grounds, forcing them to fish intensively in less-productive areas. More than 450 million pounds of seafood from fish and squid to shellfish and crustaceans were commercially harvested statewide in 2002, according to the California Seafood Council.
In addition, many recreational anglers bristle at the prospect of placing vast areas of the ocean off-limits even to rod-and-line fishing.
Leading marine scientists say a layered system of underwater reserves, parks and conservation areas will protect important habitats and prevent exploited fisheries from collapsing.
Tom Raftican, president of the United Anglers of Southern California, bets the Fish and Game Commission will avoid starting a huge political battle next month by postponing revisions in Southern California.
It would make more sense to go north and further refine the process, Raftican said.
Developing a larger system of protected areas will be far more challenging along the state's southern coastal counties Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego, which have about 15.5 million residents than along counties of the Central Coast, where about 1 million people live.
Virtually every square mile of coastal water in Southern California is used by one group or another, from lobster trappers to kayak anglers.
For instance, scientists have recommended expanding the La Jolla State Marine Conservation Area to include kelp forests south of La Jolla Cove. The additional stretch of coastline is a highly productive fishing zone cherished by thousands of recreational anglers.
A second example involves San Clemente Island, which is about 75 miles west of San Diego and is controlled by the Navy. The waters around it could be a prime candidate for being designated as a no-take reserve, but the Navy is unlikely to accept new restrictions on its activities there.
Any efforts to expand the four marine protected areas or to create more of them around Santa Catalina Island is sure to meet with resistance.
Oceanside resident John Guth, president of the California Lobster and Trap Fishermen's Association, said there are already too many areas off-limits to members of his group. Lobster trappers must stay 750 feet away from every jetty or pier and cannot place traps inside any harbor, he said.
I don't see how we can come out of this without getting beat up, Guth said. They're putting a little loop around our necks and will squeeze us slowly.
Craig Ghio, vice president of Anthony's Seafood Group in San Diego, said the broadening of protected areas will force some fishermen to quit their trade, which will then drive up the price of seafood.
It will have a substantial impact on the availability of fresh local fish in California, said Ghio, a member of the California Fisheries and Seafood Institute.
Many of the areas likely to be designated as no-take reserves are rocky reefs and headlands, which attract great numbers of fish.
They have targeted all of the most productive fishing areas, said Diane Pleschner-Steele of the California Wetfish Producers Association, which represents vessels that fish for sardines, mackerel, squid and tuna.
The commission's hearings for the Central Coast sites exposed a growing rift between the fishing community and marine scientists.
The science doesn't justify the magnitude of the closures being adopted, said Bob Fletcher, president of the Sportfishing Association of California. Fletcher represents about 150 boat owners who take recreational anglers on deep-sea fishing trips.
Traditional fisheries management techniques, such as seasonal closures for fishing fleets, have proved successful in revitalizing depleted fish stocks, he said.
Fletcher also is concerned that state officials will not be able to effectively police the expanded protected areas. Fishermen usually will have to rely on Global Positioning System devices to know if they are in marine reserves because most of the zones are not marked by buoys, he said.
It will cost about $13 million to enforce California's network of marine protected areas this year, and the bill will increase to $24.2 million annually by 2015, according to the state Department of Fish and Game.
Representatives of the fishing community are ignoring the major thrust of the Marine Life Protection Act, said Steve Gaines, director of the Marine Science Institute at the University of California Santa Barbara.
It's not a fisheries act, Gaines said. The goals of the act are to protect habitats and ecosystems, not to enhance fisheries.
Nonetheless, protected areas along California's 1,100-mile coastline will likely become seed banks for the rest of the ocean, he said.
Numerous studies done on more than 100 no-take reserves worldwide show that within the boundaries of each sanctuary, fish increase in size and numbers, and the overall diversity of marine life flourishes. In theory, fishermen will benefit from the spillover of fish into areas outside reserve boundaries, Gaines said.
Among marine scientists, not everyone agrees that state officials' revamping efforts will be successful.
Even enlarged reserves may not be enough to revive ailing habitats and threatened species, said Jeremy Jackson, a researcher at UCSD's Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
I fear we are on a collision course for enormous disappointment, Jackson said. No responsible plan for regenerating the ocean's ecosystems would put the final decision in the hands of politicians.
Agua Hedionda Lagoon State Marine Reserve
Batiquitos Lagoon State Marine Park
Buena Vista Lagoon State Marine Park
Cardiff and San Elijo State Marine Conservation Area
Encinitas State Marine Conservation Area (south of D Street)
La Jolla State Marine Conservation Area
Mia J. Tegner State Marine Conservation Area (Point Loma)
San Diego-Scripps State Marine Conservation Area
San Dieguito Lagoon State Marine Park
San Elijo Lagoon State Marine Park
SOURCE: California Department of Fish and Game
The fishermen with loans on their commercial boats and their homes will suffer.
The families who depend on a paycheck will suffer.
The small family businesses in the fishing communities will lose many of their repeat customers. The retail, restaurant, and service businesses will suffer.
Friday a Federal Judge in NOLA said all navigable waters belong to the Federal Gubmint. And he meant "all".
I'm SERIES and yeah he was a Klintoon 'judge'.
They need to ban the high tech industry. Afterall, high tech uses electricity and electricity is generated by power plants that pollute.
Speaking of fishing (recreational) george76, I went this morning.
A friend and I decided last night to get up early today and go. I had my canoe laying out in a field next to my house. In the dark, my friend and I picked it up and carried it to my Jeep, lifted it up and tied it on top, then packed all our gear in the car.
We got up this morning and went, and when we hoisted it down and carried it to the lake's edge we flipped it over, and there was a snake slithering in the bottom of the canoe!!!!
Apparently it was in it and under the bow all the time, hiding under a little metal piece that comes across the top. It was just a garden snake, not poisonous, but to me any snake is scary.
I made him feel over the entire canoe before I'd climb in it.
He turned it loose and it went off swimming in the lake (believe it or not all land based snakes can swim). We stood there watching it and hoping we could see a big bass come up and gulp it down (PETA would hate me for such thoughts). Finally, with the sun's reflection combined with the ripples on the water we lost sight of it.
EWWW -- I hate snakes. Good thing we found it before we got the canoe out in the water, or rod and reels, camera equipment, tackle, everything would have been on the bottom of the lake as I panicked and jumped out.
I agree with your comments, commercial fishermen are being run out of business, and eventually they'll be a thing of the past.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." -Manuel II Paleologus
All your fish are berong to us, you pissant little cretins! We are the elite. Be damned to you and the mules you rode in on.