SANTA BARBARA - On November 24, 2014, California State Park Peace Officers Geno Lucich and James Bray participated in an underwater event designed to draw attention to protected underwater parks along the coast of California, particularly those in the area of Santa Barbara.
"The divers who participated were on the State Parks Dive Team and are working to build and ensure that the program will continue and grow, by showing results and being steadfast in our team's statewide availability to respond to diving/aquatic emergencies along with conducting scientific monitoring, recreational development and light under water repairs and maintenance throughout the state," said Lucich, who serves on the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) Resource Protection Peace Officers Association (RPPOA) Board of Directors. "The dive we participated in was at Naples Reef which is considered one of the top ten dive locations in California. One of our main objectives was to document features about the reef and the State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) so that we have can, in turn, educate the public and nearby park visitors on how to access the dive site and inform them on the recreational and educational opportunities which Marine Protected Areas hold throughout the state."
The trip was organized by the Santa Barbara Channel Keepers, a group looking to spread the word about Marine Protected Areas, or underwater parks in Santa Barbara County, therefore promoting tourism.
"What makes the Naples Reef State Marine Conservation Area different than other Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) is that the Fish &Wildlife regulations exclusively allow for spear fishing of 'fin fish' only," said Lucich. "These types of fish are pelagic, and include yellow tail and white sea bass. This is a unique regulation for Marine Protected Areas and because spear fishing is the only method of take allowed there, the resources will only be minimally impacted. Spear fishing is a very difficult and specialized type of recreation in sport fishing. To not allow this specific type of 'take' at this specific dive site would be a detriment to the recreational opportunities, local heritage and culture which the local diving community and tourists support and deeply value. As State Park Peace Officers, we value both the ability to connect people to recreation and resources. We are committed to protecting those resources and also educating and protecting the public as they venture into these wild, scenic and natural areas of the state."
For news coverage of the event: http://www.keyt.com/news/local-nonprofit-hopes-to-boost-ecotourism/29912080