Malibu Marine Protected Area Takes Effect First Day of New Year
• Proponents Expect to See All Forms of Sea Life Off Point Dume Benefit
BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN
On Jan. 1, the California Department of Fish and Game will officially implement Southern California's new network of Marine Protected Areas, including a State Marine Reserve and State Marine Conservation Area off Point Dume in Malibu. The new Southern California underwater parks will be part of a statewide system of MPAs that were created through the Marine Life Protection Act.
"Jan. 1 is a real turning point for Southern California's ocean," said Greg Helms of Ocean Conservancy. "By protecting hot spots like South La Jolla, Point Dume and Laguna, we are charting a course towards greater sustainability, and that means better fishing, diving, kayaking, tidepooling and birding for our children."
"Like parks on land, these new marine protected areas are a huge opportunity to connect with nature," said Malibu resident Sarah Sikich of Heal the Bay. "From Heal the Bay's own MPA Watch program to Underwater Parks Day events at local aquaria, there are lots of opportunities for people to get involved and learn."
Not everyone is happy about the implementation of the program. A coalition of fishing interests continues to attempt to block the MPAs, arguing that the MLPA processes environmental review, overseen by the state Department of Fish and Game, has violated the California Environmental Quality Act in the commission's environmental review of the regulations.
In Malibu, the Point Dume SMR incorporates an area of reefs and kelp forest popular with kayak fishers and the diving community. The area, and a marine canyon located directly off the Point Dume Headlands, are described as "rare and vitally important habitat" that was one of the MLPA Science Advisory Teams top preservation priorities.
MLPA proponents counter that the marine protected areas going into effect were designed with the input of the local fishing community, conservationists and other stakeholders.
"The new MPAs protect the most productive ocean areas while leaving nearly 90 percent of the coast open for fishing," an Ocean Conservancy press release states. "Most of the new protected areas are adjacent to public beaches and state parks, creating great opportunities for education, research, and recreation. A couple of areas—Kashtayit west of Santa Barbara and Matlahuayl near San Diego—were designed to protect and showcase tribal cultural history in the south coast region."
Chumash activist Mati Waiya, founder of the Wishtoyo Foundation in Malibu, has stated that he hopes that there will be an opportunity to incorporate Chumash culture and seafaring traditions in the new Point Dume MPA areas.
"The ocean is more than just a source of fish, it's a vital piece of our shared natural and cultural heritage," said Diane Castaneda of the organization WiLDCOAST. "Our community has been overwhelmingly supportive of marine protected areas, and is excited to help spread the word and study their results."
According to MPA advocates, Southern California already has one marine protected area success story. The Channel Islands marine reserve network, created in 2002, appears to be successfully helping to rebuild depleted fish populations and restore kelp forest habitat. According to the Ocean Conservancy, a five-year review has found that rockfish numbers at the MPA were up by 50 percent, and that the size of the fish studied had increased by 80 percent. The report concludes that the Department of Fish and Game found no evidence the marine reserves impacted fisheries value.
According to the DFG, the Point Dume State Marine Reserve, which extends from the west end of Paradise Cove to the outflow of Zuma Creek, is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed: 34° 00.76' N. lat. 118° 49.20' W. long.;?33° 56.96' N. lat. 118° 49.20' W. long.; thence eastward along the three nautical mile offshore boundary to?33° 57.06' N. lat. 118° 47.26' W. long.; and?34° 01.20' N. lat. 118° 47.26' W. long. Take of all living marine resources in the SMR is prohibited."
The State Marine Conservation Area extends from Zuma Creek to El Matador State Beach, defined as "from the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed: 34° 02.28' N. lat. 118° 53.00' W. long; 33° 59.14' N. lat. 118° 53.00' W. long.; thence southeastward along the three nautical mile offshore boundary to 33° 56.96' N. lat. 118° 49.20' W. long; and 34° 00.76' N. lat. 118° 49.20' W. long. Take of all living marine resources is prohibited except: The recreational take of pelagic finfish, including Pacific bonito, and white sea bass by spearfishing is allowed, and the commercial take of coastal pelagic species by round haul net and swordfish by harpoon is allowed.
"Take pursuant to beach nourishment and other sediment management activities is allowed inside the conservation area pursuant to any required federal, state and local permits, or as otherwise authorized by the department."
More information is available at websites: www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa or www.caloceans.org