8-17-06 Here is the basic information on the impact of the recent MLPA decisions on our part of the Central Coast.

8-17-06 Here is the basic information on the impact of the recent MLPA decisions on our part of the Central Coast. Jim Webb, an avid recreational fisherman, has worked tirelessly on this.  This report was submitted 8-17-06 by Carol Adams pcadams71 at sbcglobal dot net

On August 15th in Monterey California, the California Fish and Game Commission met to decide how the implement the Marine Life Protection Act here in the central coast. Before them were various proposals for networks of marine protected areas (MPA’s). Two proposals received the bulk of the attention, Package 3R, the ‘preferred alternative’ of the Blue Ribbon Taskforce, and Package P, the ‘preferred alternative’ of the Department of Fish and Game. Parts of each package were taken in the final result.

The Cambria Fishing Club has been a proponent of a ‘recreational only’ Park in the kelp beds in front of Cambria. This proposal was adopted on the 15th. It established a park, where no commercial fishing may continue, running from Lampton Cliffs County Park, in the south, to Little Pico Creek, in the north. The Cambria State Marine Park will extend offshore about one mile to the edge of the kelp beds.

Benefiting the Park will be the adjacent Cambria State Marine Reserve, running from Lampton Cliffs County Park to the south for three miles. This reserve will be to further the baseline marine studies that have occurred on the marine bench at Rancho Marino and will extend offshore for one mile. This will be a ‘no-take’ area that will exclude any form of extraction other than scientific by permit only.

Further north, the biological hotspot surrounding Point Piedras Blancas will be protected in two ways. From the elephant seal haulouts in the south, to Point Sierra Nevada in the north and out to sea one mile will be the Point Piedras Blancas State Marine Reserve. This will be a ‘no-take’ area. Offshore of this reserve will be the Point Piedras Blancas State Marine Conservation Area, running two miles further out to the edge of state jurisdiction in these waters. This SMCA will allow only salmon and albacore fishing. No other forms of commercial or recreational extraction will be permitted.

Piedras Blancas plays a unique role in both the oceanography and biology of the central coast. Upwellings of nutrient rich colder offshore water help nourish larvae that are captured both above and below the point. To the north, the largest ‘bull’ kelp bed in the central coast is home to those species favoring this environment. In the south, ‘giant’ kelp beds are home to species that favor this habitat. Offshore lie high relief rocky reefs where many species ultimately live out their lives. When reproduction occurs, this prominent point propels larvae in both directions for many miles up and down our coastline.

The decision of the Commission was met with silence at the meeting. Environmentalists felt disappointed that more was not done to preserve our marine resources. Commercial fishermen worried about the impact of these new restrictions on their livelihoods and sport fishermen saw many familiar locations closed. No one felt much like celebrating and everyone felt that some sacrifice had been made. One definition of a successful public process is one in which everyone is disappointed with the outcome. Perhaps that is an apt analogy here, the feeling was more one of history being made than a cause to celebrate. All parties were asked to give up something for the greater good, for generations to come and the likelihood of significant environmental challenges ahead.

The Cambria Fishing Club has been an active participant in this process for many years. Our approach has been to have a seat at the table rather than to be a passive witness as change occurs. The results reflect many hard fought battles over sites, proposed regulations and competing interests. With such a complex outcome clear information is critical to avoid misunderstandings. For more information, please contact the Cambria Fishing Club’s two appointed representatives to the MLPA process, Jim Webb at 805-927-1662 or Ron Massengill at 805-924-1012.