DEL MAR — It is all but guaranteed the area off the coast of Del Mar will not to be designated as a state marine reserve under the Marine Life Protection Act of 1999. And that’s just fine with city officials.
A Blue Ribbon Task Force charged with determining which areas of the state’s 1,100-mile coastline will be protected and off limits to fishing and other activities spent about a year trying to develop a network of protected areas in Southern California. The choice was narrowed to three proposals, one of which was expected to be selected in October.
But at the end of that three-day series of meetings, the five-member panel combined the three proposals into two and postponed its decision until Nov. 10, at which time it approved a final recommended plan that did not include a state marine reserve off the coast of Del Mar.
“That was all good,” Councilman Don Mosier said. “This game is not over, however. Now the Department of Fish and Game gets to make the selection. The Blue Ribbon Task Force forwarded their preferred alternative … but they also forwarded the three contenders from the October meeting.
“Historically the Department of Fish and Game would accept the preferred alternative, but maybe they won’t,” Mosier said. “So the good news is it’s almost certain the offshore Del Mar marine reserve is gone. … It’s almost certain, but not totally certain.”
The goal of the MLPA is to redesign the state’s marine protected areas to safeguard marine life, habitats and ecosystems, and improve recreational, educational and study opportunities provided by those ecosystems. Del Mar City Council members feared such a designation would impact sand replenishment, the ability of lifeguards to provide safety, beach cleanup and the tourist industry.
The Fish and Game Commission is scheduled to discuss the recommendation next month. A final decision is not expected until next year.
Meanwhile, Mayor Crystal Crawford sent a letter to Ken Wiseman, executive director of the MLPA initiative, noting that the San Dieguito Lagoon and river mouth were not designated as a state marine reserve in the final recommendation adopted by the task force.
According to the letter, that “appears to be an administrative oversight” because the area was identified with such a designation on all three proposals discussed in October. The lagoon is already designated as a state marine park.
Annie Reisewitz, media relations liaison, said the lagoon was “specifically excluded” from the task force’s preferred alternative at the request of the San Dieguito Lagoon Restoration Project. The state marine reserve designation would complicate the ongoing monitoring and restoration efforts currently taking place in the lagoon, Reisewitz said.