In a 3 to 2 vote the Fish & Game Commission approved the Intergrated Preferred Alternative (IPA) plan of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) for the North Central Coast yesterday at their August 5th meeting.
The whole day was spent on this agenda item, which was rife with controversy. Although several issues were broached in the more than 100 public comments, most speakers either embraced the IPA or requested that the Commission chose the less conservation minded plan 2AX.
The Otter Project and the Monterey Coastkeeper both attended and spoke in favor of the IPA, so we’re pretty happy. Although the North Central Coast isn’t currently otter range (it starts in Half Moon Bay and goes up to Mendocino; official otter range ends below Half Moon Bay), it once was, and we hope it will be again some day. Ensuring that practices are taken to protect habitat for all marine life gives us hope that when otters make it up there, it will have been a worthwhile trek.
One thing that irked us was Commissioner Richard’s statement at the end of the meeting that those who actually used the ocean were in favor of 2XA. Last time I checked, fishing isn’t the ONLY use of the ocean. Those of us who dive, surf, kayak, travel, or work in other ways on, in or around the ocean beg to differ. And no matter what you do with it, science has shown time and again that MPAs are effective at restoring ocean habitat–which is good for ALL ocean users.
This decision was the second in a series of processes to cover CA in a network of MPAs under the 1999 Marine Life Protection Act. It took 10 years, but we’re getting there.
So in conclusion, YAY.