Irvine, California-based United Anglers of Southern California (UASC) recently presented its vision for meeting Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) conservation goals off Southern California to the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force Regional Stakeholders Group meeting, held earlier this month in Long Beach.
UASC's proposal -External Proposal B for the South Coast Study Region - offers a viable alternative to massive closures. The backbone of this proposal is an array of Marine Protected Areas, including State Marine Conservation Areas, State Marine Parks and a lesser number of no-take State Marine Reserves than other proposals currently under consideration.
What really differentiates this plan, however, is the formation of the proposed Charles F. Holder State Marine Recreational Management Area at Catalina Island, a conservation solution unique to recreational fishing. Encompassing the entire island and holding true to the conservation roots of Holder - founder of the Avalon Tuna Club - this solution offers a variety of recreational and commercial fishing opportunities while providing more effective MPA protections through various restrictions on gear, angling techniques and species, as well as adjusted size and bag limits.
"This process has become 'real' to many Southern Californians for the first time, now that they've seen the various maps and proposals for a large network of closed areas," said UASC President Steven Fukuto. "We've been dealing with this for many years, developing a plan that achieves effective conservation and provides the opportunity to catch bigger fish. There will be some closures and we'll have to change how we fish and what we can take in certain areas. The important thing is, there will be places to fish and bigger fish to catch throughout the region with our program," added Fukuto.
Since presenting its External Proposal B at the recent MLPA meeting, UASC has been working to educate anglers and enlist greater understanding of this proposal through aggressive outreach programs while waiting for the MLPA Science Advisory Team to provide feedback for the proposal's conservation evaluation. A direct link to a map detailing UASC's External Proposal B for Southern California is available at http://www.unitedanglers.com/page.php?21