Yesterday, a student attorney and I had the opportunity to go out on the water with a game warden from the Department of Fish and Game. The day’s goal was to investigate effective methods to patrol our local marine protected areas, or MPAs. For those unfamiliar with the designation, MPAs restrict fishing and harvesting of marine life to allow the ecosystem to rejuvenate. The new MPA designations in Southern California came into effect January 1, 2012, and the legislative goals for the MPAs include protection, conservation, and rehabilitation of our marine resources. Great public policy, and great for the ocean.
Enforcing the MPAs will be critical for their long-term success. Coastkeeper intends to work with the Department of Fish and Game and local law enforcement and prosecution agencies to ensure success. For example, marine debris and lobster poaching have been identified as a couple important issues, and we look forward to being involved in crafting creative, effective solutions to these challenges. Collaboration with other environmental and governmental agencies will also likely drive our work going forward. And ultimately, we hope to build relationships with anglers, who are the most persistent eyes and ears on the water. It is an exciting time, ripe with opportunities to set a game plan for the future.
Our friend with the Department of Fish and Game reminded us, however, that poaching problems are not just limited to the MPAs. No different from years in the past, a few “bad apple” lobster fishermen will probably set baited lobster traps before the season begins. This issue goes beyond MPAs, and early traps might be found anywhere lobster fishing happens. This is not only unfair to good, honest fishermen, but also illegal. So, we would like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone, and especially divers, who see lobster traps set with bait to let the Department of Fish and Game know — they have asked for your help! Early baiting can only happen until Tuesday (commercial lobster season opens Wednesday, October 3 ), so keep an eye out on your weekend dive. Enjoy the ocean this weekend, and do your part to take care of it!
Follow this link to see a photo of real lobsters in a trap: www.oceanlight.com/spotlight.php?img=10138
To report a baited trap: 1-888-CalTIP
For information about lobster season: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/calendar.asp
For DFG’s mobile site with maps and contact info: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mobile/