Friday, July 10, 2009

Marine Life Protection Act workshop comes to Santa Barbara : Feedback solicited on six proposals for marine protected areas along the South Coast stud


July 10, 2009 7:07 AM

A workshop on the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative was held in Santa Barbara on Thursday night to allow for community feedback on six proposals for marine protected areas along the South Coast study region.

The workshop was the seventh in a series of eight, all of which took place in coastal regions where the MPAs are being proposed.

In a conference room at Fess Parker's DoubleTree resort on East Cabrillo Boulevard, six stations were set up in Science Fair style, each with respective information on these coastal regions.

The regions are Carlsbad, Orange County, Point Dume in Newport, Southern Channel Islands, Point Dume in Carpinteria and Point Conception.

An MPA is "primarily intended to protect or conserve marine life and habitat," according to public resources code.

The proposed MPAs in Point Conception, the Goleta Slough state marine reserve near the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport and the Refugio state marine conservation area on the Gaviota Coast just west of Naples, are those which will most affect Santa Barbara, according to Principal Planner Evan Fox.

"The Channel Islands stay the same in all the proposals," said Mr. Fox, who explained that this is because they are just starting to be evaluated after receiving their own set of restrictions four years ago.

Four of the proposals were presented by regional stakeholder work groups, while the remaining two were presented by external fishing groups and adopted by the stakeholders.

The four proposals from the stakeholders are Lapis 1, Lapis 2, Opal and Topaz.

Under Lapis 1 and Lapis 2, all take would be prohibited in the Goleta Slough SMR, and the Refugio SMCA is not proposed as an MPA.

Under Opal, all take in the Goleta Slough SMR would be prohibited, and boating, swimming, wading and diving would also be prohibited. The Refugio SMCA is not proposed.

Under Topaz, the Refugio SMCA is proposed. Commercial take would be prohibited there except for urchin and sea cucumber by means of diving. Recreational take would also be prohibited except for certain fish by spear, hand, diving and hook and line.

Also under Topaz, the Goleta Slough SMR is proposed and would allow no take.

The two proposals generated by external groups and adopted by MLPA do not propose a Refugio SMCA, but they do propose a Goleta Slough SMR in which all take is prohibited.

MLPA's science and planning advisor, Satie Airame, said she was thrilled about the workshop series and found it valuable to the law's implementation.

"I believe it's an important law to implement," she said. "And I love this process because it engages different interests and group leaders."

The Initiative's planning process and existing MPA evaluation began in June, 2008.

In December, 2008, development and review began of draft MPA proposals, a process that is currently wrapping up.

The future for the MLPA Initiative lies with the California Fish and Game Commission, who will receive recommended proposals in September and make its own recommendation sometime in November or December, at which time the regulatory and environmental review process will begin.

For more information on the MLPA Initiative, visit

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