STOCKTON, CA — California’s Fish and Game Commission voted four to one today in favor of an October 1, 2011 implementation date for the Southern California Marine Protected Areas approved last December. These underwater state parks will provide critically needed protections for San Diego coastal hot spots like south La Jolla and Swamis in Encinitas.
Several recent studies underscore the urgent need for a comprehensive marine protected area system, like the one California is creating through the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), to buffer against growing threats like climate change, habitat loss and fishing pressure. A report to the United Nations warned of potential mass extinctions within our lifetimes if preventative action is not taken, and identified marine protected areas as a key solution. A NOAA study emphasized the benefits marine protected areas provide for people.
“These science-based marine protected areas will help replenish San Diego’s coastal ecosystems so that marine life and habitats can recover and thrive,” says Gabriel Solmer, Coastkeeper’s Interim Executive Director.
“Thousands of south coast residents participated in the planning process for these marine protected areas, and dozens of community efforts are already underway to support education, research and outreach needs,” said Karen Garrison of Natural Resources Defense Council.
The new marine protected areas were planned by local stakeholders, including members of Coastkeeper staff, during a two-year public process that spanned more than 50 public meetings and generated tens of thousands of community emails. The network was designed to protect sea life and habitats at biodiversity hot spots while leaving nearly 90 percent of the coast open for fishing (see a map of fishing areas left open). The new protected areas will improve access for recreation, study and education while boosting the overall health of California’s ocean.
On December 15, 2010, the California Fish & Game Commission voted in favor of adopting marine protected areas in southern California. San Diego’s new marine protected areas include a fully protected marine reserve at south La Jolla, and conservation areas at Swamis in Encinitas, La Jolla Shores and the Tijuana River Mouth.
For more information about marine protected areas, visit Coastkeeper’s website at www.sdcoastkeeper.org.
Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects the region’s inland and coastal waters for the communities and wildlife that depend on them by blending education, community empowerment and advocacy. Visit SDCK online at http://www.sdcoastkeeper.org.
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