October 1st brought a few changes in the regulations in MPAs (Marine Protected Areas) and MMAs (Marine Managed Areas). One of these new regulations will affect divers – those who partake in spearfishing, specifically.
The new regulation states:
“Spearfishermen with or without catch shall be allowed to transit through MPAs and MMAs. While transiting MPAs and MMAs that prohibit spearfishing or while in possession of species not identified as allowed for take in the MPA or MMA being transited, spearfishing gear shall be in an unloaded condition, not carried in hand, and the diver shall remain at the surface.”
If there’s no spearfishing allowed in an MPA, why would this new regulation be needed? It’s actually quite simple – There are several places where access points are in an MPA, and the area divers spearfish are outside the MPA.
Divers who are passing through a Marine Protected Area, however, must carefully follow the new regulation to avoid being suspected of taking game within the restricted area. Following the law with the new regulation, if the speargun is being carried in the spearfisher’s hand, the spearfisher is in violation – it’s up to the spearfisher to transport the speargun through the surf zone and the MPA (and back again) without hand-carrying it.
A second regulation, also effective October 1st, affects boats with fish onboard which are not legal to catch in the MPAs. The regulation reads:
“Vessels shall be allowed to transit through MPAs and MMAs with catch onboard. Fishing gear shall not be deployed in the water while transiting through a state marine reserve. Fishing gear, except legal fishing gear used to take species identified as allowed for take in subsection 632(b), shall not be deployed in the water while transiting through a state marine recreational management area, state marine park or state marine conservation area.”
Changes in rules and regulations will be posted to the CDFW Marine Protected Areas website and updated in CDFW online publications. If you’d like to see the changes now, before they go in effect, they are currently posted on the Fish and Game Commissionwebsite.