Oct 232009
 

I was literally pounding my steering wheel while listening to the KPBS Editors round table butcher coverage of the Marine Life Protection Act this morning. They did minimal research (at best), but were more than happy to speak about it anyway. There are several things which were missing from the discussion or simply incorrect:

“Fish stocks haven’t changed in 10 years”
Gloria quoted an op-ed from the UT written by someone from the fishing industry saying the fish stocks had not changed since the law was passed, in 1999. That is simply wrong and they didn’t really follow it up correctly – our fish stocks are not the same as they were 10 years ago. Major pelagic species are under huge threat and the catch size of many species is going down. It seems like everyone forgets that California has a salmon industry in a death spiral. Thankfully someone mentioned the LA Times Altered Oceans series.

“The MPAs will help keep spear fishing away from swimmers”
I’d love to see a list of all the incidents that would prompt this concern. My guess is there are very few. No one wants to spearfish where people are swimming as beaches make for lousy fishing. Why was this even discussed as a valid issue?

“Closing areas will lead to overfishing the only areas left open”
This is a ridiculous statement for several reasons. The size of the MPA at best is going to be in the 15-20% range, far less than the 30-40% range recommended by scientists. If closing that small of a percentage of space available leads to environmental destruction, then we are in horrible shape and it is all the more reason to close areas off. For more on this point, see the next two:

“The MPA’s are about protecting certain areas and will hurt fishing”
Marine preserves are not only about conserving life in the preserve. They are also about increasing life in non-preserve areas. Frequently Marine Preserves *increase* yields in non protected areas as they act as nurseries for the rest of the ocean.

“California fishing industry is well regulated, management is working”
Using salmon as an example, clearly it is not working for all species. Size and catch based fishing regulation alone (as California has) is a very poor management of fish stocks. Most species do their best reproducing when they are very old and mature. It can take many years, even decades for some species to reach a prime reproductive size. If you allow the taking of fish over a certain size only, you are targeting the very best producers of new fish. By blocking off MPA’s, you allow a portion of those best breeders to survive and produce the next generation.

Considering this network broadcast The National Parks: America’s Best Idea not that long ago, I found it very surprising that they didn’t understand the impact or importance of the Marine Life Protection Act. MPA’s preserve our ocean wild areas for generations to come in the same way our National Parks have for land use. These areas are critical to sustaining our economy, our food supply, our way of life, and ensuring it is still as much of a joy to explore our coast in 50 years as it is today.

Aug 242009
 

Like many divers I used to store my dive gear in a large plastic bin.  The bins are cheap and keep any salt water out of the car trunk.  Eventually I dropped my bin the wrong way and cracked it one too many times.  I started searching for a better system.

Over on scubaboard a fair number of people were using large plastic tool chests or carts as portable dive lockers, with good results.  I headed over to Lowe’s and picked up a Stanley 24 Gallon Mobile Job Chest.  The chest is cheap ($50) and just large enough to fit all of my gear, including the drysuit & undergarment.  I’ve used the box for about 6 months and other than some surface rust on the latches, it seems to have held up well.  It is great for dragging gear over longer distances, like marinas or walking from the ferry to casino point in Avalon. Another benefit is the metal latches – I was able to use a padlock & cable to lock it to a bench while diving Casino Point.

The one thing the box didn’t help much with was my tank.  On a trip to Catalina I tried using a ratchet tie down to strap the tank to the back of the box.  It mostly worked, but felt a bit wobbly.  I was constantly worried the tank was going to slip out.

A form member posted some photos of an interesting modification to the tool box.  He cut holes in the top of the box and added cam bands for attaching the tanks.  This looked like a great idea and I wanted to try it out myself.  I bought some cam bands from Deep Sea Supply and borrowed tools (a dremel & saw) from Pete & Paul.

As you can see from the photos, we cut the cam band holes near the back of the box.  I have a steel 80 tank in the photo, but a steel 100 or AL80 would hang off the back even more.  This might seem a bit strange, but it was done for a good reason.  With the weight of the tank extended over the back, it balances the weight of box over the back wheel.  In fact, if the heavy items are loaded at the back of the box, pulling the whole package is quite easy.

Cutting the holes for the cam bands was more work than I was expecting, but the results are worth it. I hauled my gear and tank around Avalon a week ago, and walked a couple blocks back from the Shores to the car this weekend with little effort. The long term durability of the axle, lid and hinge remain to be seen, but there are no signs of stress or warping thus far. I’m hoping I get get a couple years of use out of it.

Update 2014: The dive box is still going strong. The latches and other bits of meta show some rust, but everything is holding together well!

Aug 182009
 

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2009.08.06 Diving Yukon and Ruby E

Heather, David, and I had some great dives on the Yukon and Ruby E at the start of the month. Visibility was the best I had seen on the Yukon and it was a lot of fun to explore.

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2009.08.14 Diving Avalon Dive Park

Adam, Paul, Pete, and I took off for some quick ferry diving at Avalon dive park. Our ghetto dive boxes with tank bands worked great.  I’ll post some photos at some point.  Visibility above 40 feet was great, deeper it was very cloudy. I got to meet Oscar, the huge sheephead. His size isn’t apparent in the photos, but he is a monster.

Jun 142009
 

Anna and I were down near the border for some shopping and had a hankering for tacos. I used yelp on my phone to see what looked interesting near by. Surrounded by mall land I wasn’t optimistic. One taco shop with only three reviews sounded pretty good – Tacos Yaqui (111 W Olive Dr, San Ysidro, CA 92173). They are trying to emulate the places in Baja, and they do a pretty good job of it. These are bigger than street tacos, and a combo is very filling. Anna and I had the Tacos Perrones (carne asada) and Tacos Norteños (spicy shrimp). Both were excellent – some of the best tacos I’ve had in a while. If you are near the border but not crossing it, definitely look them up.

Tacos Yaqui