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Paul Lebowitz – IT'S JUST FISHING

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Targeting local tuna by kayak
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Bug Bait


Stakeholder's Log: One more time for MLPA and public
MLPA Log: Almost One and Done
With South Coast MLPA closure plans in the can, its time to speak now or forever hold your peace

BY PAUL LEBOWITZ
WON Staff Writer
 
I need your help. So does every other Southern California ocean angler. Our fishing future and our local maritime economies are at stake.
 
But first, a bit of background. Along with about a twenty others, I served on Workgroup 2 of the MLPA South Coast Regional Stakeholders Group. We had a very specific task. Unlike the other two planning groups, we were told to develop the legally mandated set of marine protected areas in state waters with an eye towards efficiency. That’s something we took to heart, as most of us live and work on the ocean. In a place as crowded as Southern California, any fishing closure will put the hurt on people like us – in many cases, we are those people. You are those people too.
 
I took that to mean any proposed closure must be scientifically justified, no ifs ands or buts. And wherever possible, it had to be located where it would do the least damage, with the pain shared equally between different varieties of fishermen.
 
We did it. Our Workgroup 2 plan meets the science guidelines everywhere it is feasible to do so without incurring drastic economic damage. The exceptions to the scientific rules were few and minor, mostly amounting to incrementally increasing habitat spacing gaps where they were already impossible to meet.
 
The closures we recommended are significant. These are good places, productive fishing areas that will provide the conservation the law requires. They include rich habitats such as the northern half of Pt Loma, a prime slice of central Laguna, a wedge out of the southern corner of Palos Verdes, and a stretch of precious coastline just west of Pt Dume, among others. I fish there, and I’m sure you do to.
 
These areas will be sorely missed, no doubt about it, and if your favorite spot ended up on the hit list, you have my apology. We did our best to affect as few fishermen as possible. That explains why many of our proposed MPAs split the difference between harbors, to make them as remote as possible. More often than not, how the habitats were mapped forced our hand. For example, deep rocky bottom is very rare in Southern California state waters. We had to get it at the westward arm of Dume Canyon.
 
I realize many of you will be disappointed in our efforts. Fair enough. But if you think Workgroup 2’s plan is rough, you haven’t really digested the Workgroup 1 and 3 proposals.
 
In brief, both of plans more than double the Workgroup 2 Dume closure, extending it as far east as Malibu’s Paradise Cove. Both propose to close every beach-level access in Laguna, where inefficient design maximizes the impact on the shoreline and near-shore areas, rather than take equal portions of deep and shallow water as recommended by MLPA guidelines. Workgroup 1 would bracket busy Mission Bay in San Diego, an unprecedented and unjustified impact on a major metropolitan harbor. These are just examples; the trend extends throughout the Southern California area. If implemented, a plan out of either Workgroup 1 or 3 would damage ocean angling opportunities far more than Workgroup 2’s proposal.
 
This is where the request for help comes in. On October 20-22 at the Hilton Long Beach and Executive Meeting Center, the Blue Ribbon Task Force will chose from between and among the plans. This group of five will chose a preferred alternative to forward on to the Fish and Game Commission for implementation. The public comment time will be determined later.
 
Take a close look at the three plans (they should be available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa some time within the next two weeks). Then come and testify or at least bear witness at this critically important meeting. The result will determine where you can and can’t fish for the foreseeable future. Tell the BRTF what you can and can’t live with. Point out the economic impacts; let them know they won’t stop at the dock. Educate them about our cherished outdoor heritage. Don’t silence your own voice.  
 
I’m confident you’ll dislike the Workgroup 2 proposal the least. That’s how I think about it. It’s a painful pill to swallow. We made a mighty effort to keep the hurt manageable, but maybe you’ll think of some way the proposal can be improved through a minor change.
 
Fishermen are the most generous souls I know. Help a brother fisherman out. Help every other one of your Southern California ocean brethren out. Support Workgroup 2’s South Coast MPA proposal. We need every one of your voices in Long Beach.

Reader Comments
Paul, First off thanks you for your commitment and effort on behalf of all of us who use and enjoy the ocean in Southern California. I will be supporting Workgroup 2 proposal, and advise others to do the same. None of this has been easy, and Paul has had to deal with it the entire process. Keep up the good work, the light at the end of the tunnel is comming, and we will get you out on the water, post haste!
Jeff Krieger
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