October 13 – Final Fish & Game Commission Public Discussion on Marine Protected Areas to be Held on Oct. 20 in San Diego

Coastkeeper works to secure scientifically based zones for San Diego’s sites

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 13, 2010- On Wednesday, Oct. 20, at the Four Points by Sheraton, the California Fish & Game Commission will hear final public discussion on marine protected areas in Southern California. This is the last public discussion on the issue and the first Southern California-based meeting of the year on marine protected areas. At its Dec. 15-16 meeting in Santa Barbara, the Commission is expected to vote into law the approved network of marine protected areas for the southern region.

San Diego Coastkeeper, the region’s leading environmental nonprofit protecting inland and coastal waters, has worked with a group of over 100 people since September 2008 to design the network of marine protected areas in Southern California that will stretch from Point Conception in Santa Barbara to the Mexican border. Coastkeeper has focused its effort on defining San Diego’s three primary conservation zones in Imperial Beach, south La Jolla and at Swamis in Encinitas.

“We want the Fish & Game Commission to select Proposal 3, the conservation plan, because it will best serve the people and wildlife of San Diego,” said Coastkeeper Marine Conservation Manager Meagan Wylie. “Marine protected areas have a long history of environmental success in many other parts of the world, the most effective of which tend to be the largest. According to the team of scientists who helped guide Southern California’s marine protected area design process, the bare minimum size needed to make an impact is nine-square-miles. Proposal 3 will establish this minimum protection along few select areas of our coastline. The other proposals being considered fall short of this critical requirement.”

Akin to “underwater state parks,” marine protected areas set aside sensitive ecosystems to allow marine life and habitats an opportunity to recover and thrive. Since its adoption in 1999, the Marine Life Protection Act required implementation of these areas along the state’s entire coastline

Scientific studies of over 80 marine reserves worldwide, 30 of which are in habitats similar to California’s, have shown that reserves (one type of marine protected area where no extractive activities, like fishing, are allowed) placed in California-like habitats allow the fish and other animals to more than double their population size and grow 30 percent larger than animals outside reserves. Recent research also shows that as numbers of fish increase inside marine reserves, fish are more likely to “spillover” into surrounding areas and benefit local fisheries.

The Fish & Game Commission will holds its meeting on Oct. 20 at the Four Points by Sheraton at 8110 Aero Drive in San Diego. The marine protected areas public discussion and hearing is expected to take all day, beginning at 10 a.m. Participants wanting to show their support for marine protected areas need only show and register to be counted. They will not be required to stay for the entire meeting.

For more information about marine protected areas and the Fish & Game Commission meeting on Oct. 20, visit Coastkeeper’s website at localhost/sdcoastkeeper.

###

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 us online at http://localhost/sdcoastkeeper.