Group to help monitor beaches

Stringent new state regulations that ban fishing along most of Laguna's coastline are set to take effect Jan. 1, but one local group is already in action.

The Laguna Bluebelt Coalition strongly supported the formation of the South Coast Marine Protected Areas, especially in Laguna Beach with its curvy, rocky shoreline, kelp forests and enthusiastic enviromentalists. So the group is getting a jump on the implementation date.

"We have been thinking a lot about our new underwater parks and looking forward to the robust recovery that we are sure will take place along our coast," Bluebelt representative Jinger Wallace told the City Council at the Dec. 6 meeting.

"The Cabo Pluma Marine Reserve in the Baja Reserve saw an increase of over 460% in marine life — in large measure because of community support," Wallace said. "I know we can do this in Laguna Beach. We can come together to make this a real success."

Coalition members have already begun observing and reporting use patterns on Laguna's beaches, Bluebelt member Michael Beanan said.

"Our job is not to enforce but to coordinate with the Orange County Marine Protected Area Council," Beanan said.

The council is a collaboration of representatives from the cities of Laguna Beach, Dana Point and Newport Beach, the county, the Laguna Ocean Foundation, Orange County Coastkeeper, Crystal Cove Alliance, Ocean Institute, Cal State Fullerton, Marine Biological Consultants Inc. and the state.

Its mission statement reads: "Collaborating at a regional level to preserve and protect Orange County marine protected areas through ongoing improvements in research, monitoring, education, outreach and enforcement."

The stated goal is to set the model for localized implementation of marine conservation efforts through regional communication and cooperation. Among the council's accomplishments: countywide signage, enforcement trainings, teacher workshops, research management and education programs.

Laguna Beach is represented on the council by Marine Safety Chief Kevin Snow, and Bluebelt will be assisting council efforts by monitoring some of Laguna's beaches.

"The idea is to provide information to the state enforcement agencies to help them decide where best to use their resources," Wallace said.

Snow said the information will be helpful.

"If nobody tells us about (about a violation), it didn't happen," Snow said. "We need to know."

Starting ahead of implementation on Jan. 1 will provide a baseline for comparison at the end of the five-year ban on fishing and "taking" to evaluate their impact, according to Wallace.

"Lobster fishers have already gone out and measured the size and counted the number of lobsters," Wallace said.

Bluebelt is seeking new members to assist in monitoring city beaches. They will receive keychains that feature former Environmental Committee member Greg O'Loughlin's photograph of the Laguna coastline.

For more information, visit

Twitter: @CoastlinePilot

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World