A new plan is in the works that will decide the future of San Diego’s coastline. Recently, the State Lands Commission and the Port of San Diego decided to pursue a marine spatial planning pilot project off the San Diego coast. The two agencies created a Memorandum of Agreement aimed to engage community members along the way.
Marine spatial planning is a process that aimed at helping a community make informed decisions about how to use a marine area in an ecological sound and sustainable way. If done well, the process can create a framework built around achieving true sustainability and conservation in our offshore areas while integrating the successes we’ve achieved with our Marine Protected Areas. In the past, however, traditional land-use has largely been conducted for the benefit of development and industry and has often times excluded or marginalized the involvement of the environmental community. We are hopeful that this planning agreement will live up to its commitment to “transparent, robust public engagement during all phases of framework development” – including meaningful participation of the environmental community – and we remain committed to working for the protection and restoration of our coastal waters.
Why does this matter to San Diego Coastkeeper?
As the voice for San Diego’s water, Coastkeeper is committed to ensuring the region’s waters remain fishable, swimmable and drinkable. Over the past 20 years, we have:
- Reduced beach advisories by 77 percent in the ten years since 2000 by improving sewage and urban runoff policies
- Secured marine protected areas (MPA) in Southern California including Swami’s, which is San Diego County’s largest MPA with a 12.6-square-mile conservation area
- Removed more than one million pounds of debris from area beaches and waterways
Coastkeeper is concerned that if the environmental community isn’t involved and properly recognized in the planning of this marine spatial project, the results could contribute to streamlined industrialization of our already-stressed marine environment – meaning a major step backwards for the health of our coast.
Why is environmental community involvement important?
The Commission and Port say they view this new marine spatial planning project as an opportunity to expand on collaborative, coordinated management of the San Diego coast. However, past traditional land-use planning projects haven’t generally involved such collaboration.
To ensure that the planning of this project prioritizes the health of our coastline, the environmental community must have every opportunity to be involved, and that voice must not be marginalized in the process.
We will continue to be your water watchdogs by fighting for the health of our inland and coastal waters and ensuring that Coastkeeper remains part of the planning for our marine coastline.