Friday, February 13, 2009

Pt. Arena City Council Petitions F&G Commission

January 22, 2009

California Fish and Game Commission

1416 Ninth Street

PO Box 944209

Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

Attention: Richard B. Rogers

Cindy Gustafson

Jim Kellogg

Michael Sutton

Daniel Richards

Dear Commissioners,

As we have previously stated,

  • We the City Council of Point Arena, speaking on behalf of our citizens and members of the surrounding community, value our Municipal Pier as a vital part of the City and as an access point for recreational and commercial boating and hope that the final Marine Protected Areas will permit continued boating operations, both for recreational users and the professionals that constitute our tiny fleet.
  • Many members of our community, including a number of particularly dedicated sport and professional fishermen, have been diligently involved in the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process and have advocated for those alternatives that appeared at each stage of the process which best achieved both the goals of the MLPA and also reduced the impact on socioeconomics, fishing tradition, heritage and safety.

At this point, as the Blue Ribbon Task Force sets forth before the California Department of Fish and Game yet another array of options - 1-3, 2XA, 4, an Integrated Preferred Alternative (IPA) which combines elements of the first three and No Action - the City of Point Arena continues to favor Proposal 2XA for reasons including:

1. Proposal 2XA protects 18.5% of the coastline from Alder Creek to Pigeon Point, the same amount of protected areas as the new Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) in the Central Coast region. What more does our remote and less populated coast need to protect its resources from?

2. Socioeconomic impact is not a consideration in the environmental impact report that is currently being prepared by the Department of Fish and Game, but it matters gravely to us. Reduced fishing opportunities have a direct impact on our already strained economy. 2/XA places one MPA near Point Arena whereas the preferred alternative option has 3 MPA areas to the north and south of Arena Cove. We believe there will be a negative impact resulting from increased fishing pressure in the open area in front of the Cove.

3. Sea Lion Island is unique. For a long time access from shore was limited to the Stornetta family and their guests, therefore harvest from the shore was minimal. However, be aware of the fact that it has been a favorite destination of recreational dive boats from the pier over the last 15 years! Sea Lion Island is also unique in that the inside cove is almost landlocked and therefore Abalone can’t easily migrate there. If left open to Abalone harvest, it will be part of the other harvest locations and because of increased effort needed to get the mollusks, popularity will subside. If closed to Sea Urchin fishing and Abalone diving it will still take a long time to reach its pre-BLM population and when it does it will tempt any poacher due to the easy access and monitoring of arriving cars on lighthouse road. Food is not plentiful in this cove and water movement is nothing compared to the south side of Arena Cove where the winter 07/08 storms twice deposited hundreds of Abalone. Healthy Abalone populations are found everywhere in our area just outside of free diving range and the fishery is very well managed with a yearly take of 24 Abs per person and a daily limit of 3 as well as a size limit and limited season. Why support a special closure in an area that is easily studied but is not representative of the other harvest locations?

4. Proposal 2/XA managed to come up with a solution for the Sea Ranch and Stewarts Point area that we think is fair to all interests. This design balances issues of preservation, private land, private land with public access, and fishing interests. The claim that it has wide support is well founded.

In addition, knowing that the BRTF deliberated at its April 22-23 meeting and recognized that the four proposals (1-3, 2XA, IPA, and 4) all generally met the science of the master plan for the MPAs, the City of Point Arena City Council, speaking on behalf of our citizens and members of the surrounding community, urges in the strongest possible terms that, should the IPA be chosen, the following changes be implemented in the IPA:

While the size and location of the Point Arena SMCA in the IPA are agreeable, please return to the description of it in 2XA. Also, remove the Saunders Reef Conservation Area and remove Sea Lion Cove Conservation Area.

Yours respectfully,

Lauren Sinnott, Lloyd Cross, Brian Riehl, Laura Smith

City of Point Arena Councilmembers

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