Paul Lebowitz – IT'S JUST FISHING

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Thursday, October 01, 2009
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YES ON TWO!: Lebowitz shows you why you have to speak up for your sport
Don’t know what to say at October’s MLPA meeting? Just remember ‘Yes on Two!’

Circle Oct. 21 on your calendar. That’s MLPA D-day, do or die day, the day you have to trek to Long Beach to speak up for your sport. That’s right, it’s your day to talk. The people who will decide where you can and cannot fish in the future want to hear what you have to say. Seize the opportunity — come to the meeting!

Speaking up shouldn’t be hard once you get a look at the maps under consideration. The differences between the three MPA proposals are stark, ranging from painful but reasonable losses to far over the top. You’ll see what I mean in a bit.

But first, let’s establish a few key points. The decision makers in this case are the five members of the Blue Ribbon Task Force. They are your audience. It’s fair to say they represent quite a few points of view. They have a job and they’re going to do it, but you shouldn’t assume there’s no sympathy for anglers among them.

Here’s the other critical issue. If you sit at home, if you tell yourself the other guy will do it for you, if you talk yourself into believing its no use, we’ll all lose. The fishing community needs numbers on Oct. 21, we need polite but passionate speakers and people to bear witness. We need people to support Workgroup 2’s plan, the only one that broadly meets the MLPA’s legally mandated conservation goals while keeping impacts to fishing livable. We need you to say “Yes on Two.”   

A future story will cover what to expect at this pivotal meeting and offer tips to improve your effectiveness. For now, let’s wade through some of the maps to see what’s at stake.  
Forget the big picture, we’re going to zoom in on a couple of make or break areas that really tell the tale.

Let’s start in southern Orange County, with that stretch of golden coastline between the bustling ports of Newport Bay and Dana Pt Harbor. Each is home to a sportfishing landing, busy marinas and launch ramps that serve private boaters, and kayakers who paddle out to wet a line. There’s beach access too for shore casters and free divers. At least for now.

The Workgroup 3 plan produced largely by representatives of environmental NGOs such as the Ocean Conservancy would blanket the majority of public beach access in a sprawling, inefficiently designed State Marine Reserve. Notice its wedge shape, maximizing the hit to public beach access and the nearshore area treasured by catch and release calico fishermen. It doesn’t even make it out to the edge of state waters. If enacted, this thing will hit both ports with a devastating body blow.

Workgroup 1’s Orange County proposal looks very similar, although shifted a bit north up the coast. It still takes out every public access in Laguna with that ‘wonderful’ wedge of an SMR. Interesting, considering this is supposedly the middle ground. Don’t believe it; as you’ll see, workgroup 1 time and again is drawn from the ‘maximize closures’ playbook.

Now take a look at Workgroup 2’s sensible suggestion. There’s a big, efficient rectangle of an SMR — there has to be an SMR here to preserve required habitats — but this one is designed to lessen the damage to the state’s marine economy. In southern Orange County, it’s the only one that preserves any reasonable public access. Say it with me, “Yes on Two!”

In case you’re wondering about the blue State Marine Conservation Areas that flank the reserves in all three Orange County proposals, most but not all allow recreational fishing and lobstering. Here’s a pointed exception: Workgroup 1’s Crystal Cove and Dana Pt SMCAs allow recreational lobster diving and commercial lobstering, but appear to have it in for lobster hoopers. Does that make any sense to you?  

Moving on to Malibu, now that you’ve seen Orange County you shouldn’t expect any surprises. Let’s start with Workgroup 3 again. Here we have an SMR that encompasses all of Pt Dume, including every inch of Dume Canyon. No fishing no how. The east end comes up just shy of Paradise Cove, taking out the better part of famous BKR, not so generously leaving a few crumbs for fishermen. And what about the blue area, the enormous SMCA next door that stretches west all the way to Lachuza? For hook and line types, its no joy. Ouch.

Surely Workgroup 1 will be better. They’re the middle ground, right? Not a chance. The reserve is a little smaller; there’s more of the blue that means recreational anglers keep out, but the overall footprint of this cluster is nearly identical to Workgroup 3’s monster.

Here’s the sad part. None of this is justified in order to meet the MLPA’s science goals, even at the large, preferred MPA size level. Take a look at Workgroup 2’s design for Malibu, the efficient conservation proposal expected to meet every science guideline in this area. The western boundary is in the same place as the others, but the eastern boundary stops just short of Pt Dume. Why? Because anything else is unreasonable overkill. Yes on Two!

We’ve only looked at two areas, but by now you should get the point. In other places the scenario is similar, MPA proposals that go beyond science requirements in Workgroup 1 and 3. As if that’s not enough, these maps are salted with add-on MPAs that serve outside special interests but are too small to count toward MLPA conservation goals. You can find them at Naples Reef, Cat Harbor, South La Jolla, and on and on. There’s none of that nonsense in Workgroup 2’s proposal.

Remember, Workgroup 1 is no middle ground. In fact, at times it is the worst possible outcome. Need an example? It’s the only one that brackets busy Mission Bay with MPAs.
There’s only one refuge for a recreational angler. That’s Yes on Two. Come say so on Oct. 21.  

The Oct. 21 Blue Ribbon Task Force meeting will be held at the Hilton Long Beach and Executive Meeting Center at 701 West Ocean Blvd. Public comment sessions are scheduled for approximately 1:30 and 7 p.m.  

AT OCTOBER’S MLPA MEETING, SAY ‘YES ON TWO’ — The final three South Coast MLPA proposals are out, and there’s only one that makes sense for recreational anglers. That’s Workgroup Proposal 2. Why? It’s the only one designed with efficiency foremost in mind. That means the fewest possible fishing closures. Compare this Workgroup 2 plan for Malibu with those designed by Workgroups 1 and 3. The difference is obvious.

WORKGROUP 1 AND 3 PLANS CLOSE MORE COAST THAN NECESSARY — Here you see the Workgroup 1 and 3 Malibu proposals mapped one on top of the other. Yes, you’re seeing double. Double the closure required to meet science guidelines, and double the hit of the previously pictured Workgroup 2 plan. For Workgroup 3, the reasons are understandable. It was drawn up by representatives of environmental NGOs. It’s Workgroup 1 that makes no sense. In theory it’s supposed to represent the middle ground. Don’t believe it.  

MORE OF THE SAME TUNE — Here’s another overlay of maps from Workgroup 1 and 3, this time showing the southern Orange County coast between Newport Bay and Dana Pt. The similarities are obvious. Those wedge shaped SMRs, pictured in red, maximize the loss of public access due to inefficient design that gobbles up the shoreline and nearshore. The two maps are variations on the same theme, closures designed to take the biggest possible bite out of fishing. It’s the same story throughout Southern California. You have a better choice. Go with Workgroup Proposal Two.

WORKGROUP 2’S OC PLAN — It’s big, it’ll hurt, but it’s fair and doesn’t go an inch farther than necessary. That’s the Workgroup 2 Proposal to a ‘T.’ It’s the conservation the MLPA law requires, but done with an eye to efficiency to reduce economic impacts and prevent unnecessary closures. It’s the one recreational anglers must support on Oct. 21 in Long Beach.  

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