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Around 50 Marine Protected Areas Proposed for Southern California, Public Encouraged to Get Involved

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mpa-network.jpg
Interactive map of MPA network by Santa Monica Baykeeper


Interactive map of MPA network by Santa Monica Baykeeper
The controversial debate over marine protected areas (MPA) and marine life preservation is now open to the public.

For years environmental non-profits and activists have been lobbying for a greater network of MPAs off the coast of California; and now it is up to the average citizen to give their input.

MPAs are particular areas of ocean that restrict human activity in order to protect the marine life and ecosystems. A regional stakeholder group first developed the proposed MPA network, but then gave it to the Department of Fish and Game to finalize the network plan. The final edit will take place within the next couple of months.

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A network of MPAs must be established as stated under California's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) that passed back in 1999. The question is how many MPAs and how big will they be.

But the answer is not that simple. MPAs have always been very controversial because some feel the networks will hinder the livelihood of local fisherman.

Fisherman also point out that many of the proposed MPAs are the cleanest areas to fish and closing those areas will force more "concentrated fishing activity into areas with greater amounts of environmental pollution," according to the Palos Verdes Peninsula-based opposition group Keep Rocky Point Open.

But environmental groups claim there is evidence showing fishing value increases despite reducing total fishing area.

"It helps the fishermen when you close an area because the fish then have a chance to grow bigger, and we know that bigger fish have many more offspring," said Craig Leisher Senior Social Science Adviser at The Nature Conservancy, according to the Environmental News Network.

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The current proposed MPAs include Point Dume off the coast of Malibu, Point Vicente Abalone Cove off the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Crystal Cove, Laguna Beach and Dana Point in Orange County, and many others (PDF).

This process will rely heavily on public comment and community participation. Therefore the Department of Fish and Game is encouraging public to join the meeting either in person on July 23, in Long Beach or be e-mailed to Thomas Napoli, Staff Environmental Scientist, at tnapoli@dfg.ca.gov.

The meeting will be held at the Administration Building of the Port of Long Beach (925 Harbor Way, Sixth Floor; Long Beach, CA 90802) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) will then be prepared in a meeting on August 3, 2010. Anyone wishing to provide written input to sway the final decision can send comments to

MLPA SCSR DEIR
Department of Fish and Game
South Coast MLPA Office
4665 Lampson, Suite C
Los Alamitos, CA 92679