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Editorial: Both sides on reserve need to calm down

The rhetoric "” and name-calling "” has heightened around the issue of a proposed marine reserve designation for all of the waters off Laguna Beach.

The City Council’s early endorsement of a “no-take zone" "” one of a slew of ideas under consideration by the state to enhance the entire California coastal environment "” has brought out an emotional reaction among those who oppose it and support it.

When Mayor Kelly Boyd "” apparently the only member of the council who actually goes out into the ocean to fish "” followed up his “no" vote on the measure by vowing not to sign the letter endorsing the restrictive plan, the gauntlet was thrown down.

Passionate letters to the editor followed, on both sides, and some stormy verbal fisticuffs have apparently also been part of the debate.

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Boyd and others who take fish from local waters have reportedly been called “slaughterers" by people who should know better. Do those people who hurl such insults at their neighbors not eat fish, one of the healthiest foods?

Are they not then beneficiaries of the “slaughter" of marine denizens? Where do they think their tuna fish comes from, or their sea bass or halibut?

Everybody should calm down.

The council’s 4-1 vote for a fishing ban does not stop fishing in Laguna Beach. The City Council does not have that authority.

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Only the California Department of Fish and Game is empowered to tell people where they can and cannot fish.

The Fish and Game Commission is in the midst of a lengthy process to determine a statewide plan to ensure that fisheries are not depleted.

Apparently, Laguna Beach, because of its fairly unique underwater topography and coves, is seen as a spot where fish and other marine life can easily reproduce and regenerate.

That’s why the city’s waters are proposed as a Marine Reserve under some of the six possible scenarios for the region.

We suspect, however, that the prospect of ridding the tidepools of folks who come out to fish, or stopping those who collect lobster during lobster season, or who spearfish off the reefs, is of great interest to those whose ocean views are sometimes impeded by the sight of a scuba diver or line fisher.

At least one supporter has made no bones about the fact that such a ban would improve property values for those on the coast.

This would, of course, be a boon to those property owners, but at what cost to the people whose livelihoods depend upon fishing and lobstering?

We hope that, as the debate continues, folks stick to the issues of what is best for the marine environment "” and stop the name-calling.

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