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Expansion of Laguna's protected waters approved

There are three designated protected areas of Laguna coastline with the goal of restoring marine life and habitat.

December 22, 2011|By Barbara Diamond
  • Most of Laguna’s coastline will be subject to regulations designed to protect marine life and habitats. The rules go into effect Jan. 1.
Most of Laguna’s coastline will be subject to regulations… (FILE PHOTO, Coastline…)

Proposed regulations for the South Coast Marine Protected Areas cleared a state review on Dec. 8, expanding existing protections to most of Laguna's coastline.

Implementation of the regulations in the areas designated for the protection of marine life and habitat take effect Jan. 1. The overriding rule is "no take," which means no fish, no shells and, to be on the safe side, no nothing.

"We already have a reserve and some marine protection areas, and the new areas are an expansion of that, which may make enforcement easier with it all (the Laguna coastline) the same," said Marine Safety Department Chief Kevin Snow. "There will be no more swimming around from Shaw's Cove to Diver's Cove and the rules change."

Enforcement of the rules is the province of the state Department of Fish and Game.

"They will be looking at how enforcement will work in all the Marine Life Protection Areas," Snow said.

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City marine safety, police, animal control and the city's marine protection officer can cite for violations, as they have done on previously protected local beaches.

"It is like any other beach enforcement infraction, such as dogs or alcohol on the beach," Snow said. "But our main thrust is educating the public. We want to get the word out: The message to the people is 'no take.'"

Compliance is the goal, Snow said.

Laguna Beach has three designated protected areas:

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Area 4

This area ranges from Smithcliffs Road south to Camel Point and is officially designated as the Laguna Beach State Marine Conservation Area.

It is unlawful in this "Type C" area to injure, damage, take or possess any specified living, geological or cultural marine resources for certain commercial and/or recreational purposes.

Also, any commercial and/or recreational uses that would threaten the species of interest, natural community, habitat or geological features may be restricted by the Marine Safety Department in Laguna.

Desired achievements by the managing agency:

•Protect or restore rare, threatened or endangered native plants, animals or habitats in marine areas.

•Protect or restore outstanding, representative or imperiled marine species, communities, habitats and ecosystems.

•Protect or restore diverse marine gene pools.

•Contribute to the understanding and management of marine resources and ecosystems by providing the opportunity for scientific research in outstanding, representative or imperiled marine habitats or ecosystems.

•Preserve outstanding or unique geological features.

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