MPAs Are Officially Implemented
• Celebration for Underwater Parks Planned for Jan. 21
BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN
On Jan. 1, the California Department of Fish and Game officially implemented California's newest 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 are part of a statewide system of MPAs that were created through the Marine Life Protection Act.
Marine conservation organization Heal the Bay is incorporating the implementation into its fourth annual Underwater Parks Day, "celebrating the implementation of marine protected areas (known as MPAs) in Southern California."
Malibuites and beachgoers are invited to join Heal the Bay volunteers at a beach cleanup at Westward Beach at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21, followed by a guided nature walk in Point Dume State Marine Reserve at 1 p.m.
Other activities will include an education booth. Free maps of the new MPAs and free canvas tote bags will be distributed. Same-day free admission to Heal the Bay's Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is also being offered.
"Just as parks on land are established to preserve and protect wildlife, MPAs will help protect underwater marine resources like fish and kelp forests for future generations to enjoy," a Heal the Bay press release states. "Plans set forth by the Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 called for a network of MPAs along the California coast. These new Southern California MPAs help complete the network as they join other MPAs in Central and Northern California."
In Malibu, the Point Dume State Marine Reserve 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 Team's 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.
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 the three nautical mile offshore boundary. Take of all living resources is prohibited in the Point Dume SMR.
The State Marine Conservation Area extends from Zuma Creek to El Matador State Beach, "from the mean high tide line to the three nautical mile offshore boundary. 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.
The DFG has repeatedly stated that non-extractive activities, including swimming, surfing, kayaking and diving, will not be impacted by the new restrictions.
More information on the MPAs and the MLPA is available at www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa
Information on Heal the Bay, including the organization's MPA Watch volunteer stewardship program and the celebration on Jan. 21, is available at www.healthebay.org