State panel approves protection of local marine areas

ENCINITAS — Christmas came early for conservationists as the California Fish and Game Commission voted to create 36 new marine protected areas along the state’s southern coastline on Dec. 15. The 3-2 vote was taken after exhaustive public hearings over a two-year period.
With the vote, Swamis is now the largest protected area in San Diego at more than 3 shoreline miles and 10 square miles of protected area.
Fishing or taking any living marine resources is prohibited in marine protected areas but specific restrictions vary from place to place. Swamis will still allow for spear fishing and shore fishing by hook and line gear.
“We’ve been working toward this historic vote for more than four years,” said Meagan Wylie, San Diego Coastkeeper’s marine conservation manager. “It’s like a savings account for our ocean — set a little aside so it can recuperate and thrive and we will all — fisherman, residents, recreational users, marine life — benefit from the interest.”
A state task force recommended last year that several areas along the San Diego County coastline become protected marine sanctuaries including a 9-square-mile area of kelp beds off Encinitas waters. However, the commission decided to expand the area.
Several commercial fishermen out of Oceanside Harbor said the new regulation was overzealous. “This isn’t going to help save the ocean,” Stan Banks said. “It’s going to make us work twice as hard in other areas.”
The five-member panel also voted to create protected zones at San Elijo and Batiquitos lagoons.
“I don’t see what the harm is in recreational fishing off the beaches,” Leonard Hilton said. The lifelong Oceanside resident said several of his friends had been commercial fishermen at one time or another. “I’m glad that they (the commission) didn’t take all the fun out of fishing but this sounds like another case of the government trampling on the rights of citizens when there is no evidence that what they are trying to protect even needs protecting.”
Another fisherman said he was surprised at the vote. “I think there is a need for intelligent conservation of our natural resources, but I didn’t think they (the commission) would take the steps necessary to make it happen in our area,” said Bill Cutler of Carlsbad.
A 64-member stakeholder group, including commercial fishing operators and environmentalists, advised the task force.
Some seafood enthusiasts worried that the price of local seafood would be impacted by the decision. “It’s nice to know that so many of the restaurants still serve local catch,” Perry Wilcox said. “If every good fishing spot becomes a protected sanctuary we’re going to have to pay a lot higher prices for lobster and who knows where it will come from,” the Cardiff-by-the-Sea resident said.

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  1. gagagaga says:

    Stupid hippies!!

  2. Joe Diego says:

    Since when is it somebody’s "right" to take fish from the ocean? There are no "rights" getting trampled here- just the recognition that the status quo will cause complete depletion of the fishery. Hippies may be stupid, but this is common sense. I thinks it’s OK to keep a few commercial fishermen from taking every living creature out of the water in the name of . . . go ahead and say it . . . selfishness.

  3. fish321 says:

    According to the California Constitution, Article 1, Declaration of Rights, Section 25, “The people shall have the right to fish upon and from the public lands of the State and in the waters thereof, excepting upon lands set aside for fish hatcheries, and no land owned by the State shall ever be sold or transferred without reserving in the people the absolute right to fish thereupon; and no law shall ever be passed making it a crime for the people to enter upon the public lands within this State for the purpose of fishing in any wate containing fish that have been planted therein by the State; provided, that the legislature may by statute, provide for the season when and the conditions under which the different species of fish may be taken.”

  4. Joe Diego says:

    Thanks for the civic lesson – I am humbled. BUT, the legislature may by statute, provide for the season when and the conditions under which the different species of fish may be taken
    If a "right" is conditional in the first place, then it’s not exactly being trampled when the conditions are exercised.

  5. chris ahrens says:

    One thing Swami’s desperately needs is a sign telling fishermen which fish are legal and what the size limits are. Anyone hanging around the beach very long quickly notes the abuse by spear fishermen coming up the stairs with sharks the size of sardines and strings of bass right out of the nursery.

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