Crushing Blanket of Humanity
MARINE PROTECTED AREAS The following is a letter I wrote regarding the southern California Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. I am employed in the fishing industry, I am a recreational angler, private boater and participant on the Regional Stakeholder Group designing MPAs in southern California. I am not an opponent of MPAs and neither is the fishing community, we support MPAs if they are implemented in a reasoned and balanced manner and if there is adequate funds to ensure adequate future management. Which is not the case presently.CRUSHING BLANKET OF HUMANITY
In considering Marine Protected Areas I have been focused on facilitating sustainable fisheries interests and how to meet the goals of the MLPA while doing so efficiently as possible. I realize that there are other interests at the table that are looking to maximize the opportunity that instituting the MLPA provides to preserve areas for natural ecosystem function. Merely efficiently meeting the goals of the Act is less than what people of that perspective would hope for.
The choice in trading off fisheries opportunity for preservation opportunity is something I want to jointly see we are doing. By preservation interests I mean folks who value more, the preservation of areas where marine ecosystems function as they did before people became such a big part of them. To meet the requirements of the MLPA even minimally it would appear that the scale of an MPA array required is much larger than that which provides a mutual benefit to both fisheries sustainability and preservation interests. The exception is the case where harvest management fails. Then the more habitat that is removed from unsustainable fishing the better. My main concern is the sincerity and acknowledgement by the participants that trading sustainable fisheries opportunity for areas of natural ecosystem function is what they are doing by going beyond minimally meeting the goals of the Act. In fact the spirit of the Act addresses preservation values to a great degree. Even minimally meeting its goals delves deeply into the trade-off zone.
During this process one of the things that I have observed is an overwhelming desire to lessen the effects of the "crushing blanket of humanity" on the marine ecosystem. Although the sins of the crushing blanket are evident in the marine environment in many ways we seem to be relatively limited within this process as to how we address "giving something back."
Stopping fishing may be the "low hanging fruit" but for many at the table it would be more appropriately labeled "somebody else's fruit." It's relatively easy to give them up.
Sharing the pain, improving the gain.
Many of the sins of the crushing blanket are addressed in ways beyond the scope of the MLPA to address. These include urban runoff, wastewater, landfill leachate, legacy pollution, nitrate loading due to agriculture runoff, inputs due to air pollution and many others. One that is within the scope of the Act appears to be disturbance based impacts.
As a private boater and recreational angler for many years one of the most apparent effects of disturbance by boats motoring along in shallow water is that they put the fish off the bite. This means of course that boat traffic causes many types of nearshore fish to not eat. Beach goers are the primary reason many shore nesting birds avoid coastal shores and are found primarily in areas where public beach access is limited. With some notable exceptions the same is true of pinnipeds.
As we draw close to final proposals to be forwarded to the BRTF I think we should be considering severely limiting public access to the near-shore and shoreside areas of our backbone SMRs. This would provide for the benefits to natural ecosystem function that human disturbance based impacts would otherwise deny.
Please visit Surfrider Foundations website http://www.surfrider.org/ and view their statement on Marine Protected areas that describes the kind of negative impacts people have on marine ecosystems and some laudable MPA benefits. I like that they state the mismanagement of fisheries as a problem area rather than fishing in general.
It is especially salient that this comes from the voice of a constituency that stands to have to make sacrifices in order to give back some coastal areas to nature. This sharing of the pain would be inspirational to other constituencies who most feel the pain of reduced public access to fish. We all sacrifice so that there can be refuges for nature from the crushing blanket of humanity.