POINT 4 ......  Scientific data requiring or even supporting closure does not exist.  NOAA/NMFS rejected the need to close the Children’s Pool Beach to comply with the MMPA. Scientific studies, from the City’s own consultants, cite “minimal disturbance of harbor seals at Children’s Pool from typical human activity without harm” IHA Application

a) May 8th, 2012 Coastal Commission staff requested scientific data to back the year round rope permit request.   Park and Recreation answered “…..the City has not completed any technical studies performed on the effectiveness of the rope”.   The year round barrier was then permitted temporarily with a condition the City conduct justifying research.   The staff request was hourly data from dawn to dusk, 16 days/week.  The City had it cut to 3 observations per day to cut costs after an attempt to get NOAA to pay for it failed.  

b) Marine mammal research and protection falls to NOAA.  NOAA had issued statements in the past that San Diego could disperse all the seals from Children’s Pool, and that they were San Diego’s problem.  The City continued to nurture crises.  The adjacent beach is a recognized seal rookery since 2009 but San Diego pretends it will not be next.

c) NOAA finally clarified its position in a letter Jan 2, 2014 to San Diego from NOAA Dept. of Protected Resources.  The regional director affirmed that “Therefore we want to clarify that we do not believe that complete closure of Children’s Pool Beach is necessary to protect harbor seals from violations of the MMPA.  The MMPA does not require that beaches be closed or that people maintain any specific distance from the animals”, so removing previous support both for the closure and the rope cordoning off the beach. 

d) Further; “The ideal solution to this type of conflict is one of shared use – where the MMPA is complied with but no unnecessary restrictions are placed on other beach or ocean users.”   The regional director knew of the Lifeguard Union Plan which would provide just that but the City has refused to consider it even as a concept, falsely claiming that moving boulders or training seals is required. 

e) The last line of the letter requested the City pay attention to section 109(a) of the MMPA. “No state shall enforce or attempt to enforce any law concerning the take of marine mammals.” Read 2nd letter

f)  San Diego did submit research allowing construction of a new lifeguard tower above the beach without closing the beach. The renewal allows another 10,000 harmless harassments in 2014.
Quotes: In conclusion, the City requests Incidental Harassment Authority for 10,000 harbor seals, 100 sea lions, and 25 elephant seals….Children’s Pool is a highly disturbed hauling site now; seals at this location do not respond to stimuli as observed with seals in other areas (Hanan 2004; Hanan&Associates 2011, and see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IRUYVTULsg).

g) San Diego’s original negative declaration cited a finding the population at the beach was limited to 250 seals. That was from a master's thesis by Linder 2011, which stated   "Maximum daily haul-out counts rarely exceed 200, and management decisions have been framed around the assumption of a largely resident population of no more than approximately 250 seals."  Linder went on to debunk that assumption.