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Sounding Off: Protection won’t close beaches

As a lifelong Laguna Beach resident I am really disappointed in your editorial “A coast off-limits to use," (Oct. 16).

I believe your stance is misguided and has fallen prey to some of the fear mongering being spread by opponents to the implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA).

You are correct that technically the Department of Fish & Game has the right to limit access to protect sensitive species or resources.

That is an authority that the department and other state and federal agencies have maintained long before the passage of the MLPA.

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The attorney general’s office and the Blue Ribbon Task Force both have made it clear that it is not the intent of the establishment of marine reserves to prevent non-consumptive recreational activities.

I quote from their memo:

“The MLPA relies upon the MMAIA to define the types of MPAs and uses that are allowed within those MPAs. The MMAIA indicates that, to the extent possible, MPAs should be open to the public for managed enjoyment and study. In addition, goal 3 of the MLPA is focused on improving recreational, educational and study opportunities afforded by MPAs subject to minimal human disturbance.

As was indicated at its July 2009 meeting, staff understands that it is not the intent of the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to prevent human use of, or access to, MPAs for non-extractive activities, such as swimming, wading, diving and boating. This intent of the BRTF, and subsequent guidance to the SCRSG, is consistent with the informal advice provided by the AG’s office."

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Source: www.dfg.ca. gov/mlpa/pdfs/memo_100109.pdf.

Further, marine protected areas (including marine reserves) have been established from Sonoma to Point Conception "” almost half of the California Coast "” and none of the marine reserves have included restrictions to non-consumptive recreational activities.

Last, Laguna Beach has had a marine reserve at Heisler Park, restrictions on disturbing birds or marine mammals on our offshore rock, and protections for our intertidal areas for decades, and we have been able to find a balance that protects these resources without undue limitations on non-consumptive recreational activities such as beach-going, swimming, surfing, skimming, kayaking, etc.

Regardless of whether you like the MLPA or any of the specific proposals being considered at the next Blue Ribbon Task Force meeting, the fear of losing non-consumptive recreational access should not be the basis for your stance on the issue.


CHAD NELSON lives in Laguna Beach.


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