THIS IS IMPORTANT PLEASE TAKE A LITTLE TIME TO BECOME INFORMED!
It is important that you as BD members understand what the MLPA process is and how to get involved. Please read this post for a brief explanation of the process and how you can make a difference. In addition it is important we work together as users of the resource whether commercial,recreational, or conservation minded and not argue over who has more right to the ocean, this will affect us all.THIS IS IMPORTANT PLEASE TAKE A LITTLE TIME TO BECOME INFORMED!
What is the MLPA?
MLPA is the Marine Life Protection Act (AB 993) that was signed into law in 1999 to protect marine habitat in state waters along the California coast. The basis of this act was the current system of marine closures did not have clear goals and objectives, and were not being managed effectively. In addition fish stocks were in decline and the best way to protect them was to create a managed network to protect marine areas from harm due to fishing and other environmental impacts.
Who are the players in the planning process?
Several groups of people have been assigned tasks in the MLPA process here is a brief description of them:
Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF): Advisory oversight group that gives policy direction and guidelines to be followed to other teams and submits proposals to the Fish and Game
Science Advisory Team (SAT): Develops protection level and habitat protection guidelines (approved by the BRTF) and analyzes proposals for effectiveness using scientific data/methods
Regional Stakeholder Group (RSG): Creates proposals of protected areas with guidance from the SAT, BFTR, and DFG along with public input and information
I-Team: Individuals from the DFG, State Parks, Natural Resources Agency, and outside contracted staff that provide guidance on feasibility, enforcement, and regulations to the RSG
Who are they and what do they want to close?
There really is no “they” in this process, the RSG is composed of 64 people from all interests; fisheries, water quality, local governments, tribal representatives, Department of Defense, environmental organizations (NGO), and interested citizens. This group of people, following the guidance from the BRTF, SAT, I-Team, and public comment are creating proposed areas for protection called Marine Protected Areas or MPAs.
What are the different types of MPAs?
Four basic types of MPA designations are being used in this process
State Marine Reserve (SMR): In a state marine reserve, it is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living geological or cultural marine resource. In addition, but rarely used, access and use for activities including, but not limited to, walking, swimming, boating, and diving can also be prohibited. No fishing or extractive activities allowed.
State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA): Limited commercial and or recreational extractive activities may be allowed. The MPA definition must specify extractive (fishing) activities that can occur and by what gear type; examples are Recreational take of finfish by hook and line or spear fishing gear; Commercial take of Lobster by trap; recreational take of clams by allowed digging implements.
State Marine Park (SMP): Limited recreational take only, no commercial extraction can occur in an SMP. The MPA definition must specify extractive (fishing) activities that can occur and by what gear type just like in an SMCA.
State Marine Recreational Managed Area (SMRMA): Used specifically to allow waterfowl hunting in an area where marine protection is desired. The MPA definition must specify extractive activities that can occur such as only waterfowl hunting.
What about catch and release, slot limits, or bag limit changes?
The MLPA is only allowed to deal with preventing extractive activities to protect habitat for marine species by restricting extraction within an area. Things such as fishing seasons, slot limits, and bag limits are fishery management activities that are not part of the MLPA process. Catch and release fishing is something the DFG agrees with in principle but have difficulty enforcing in an open ocean environment. The MLPA is all about protecting habitat areas not managing the fishery.
Where can I find more information?
The DFG has created a website to inform the public on the MLPA process. Information is available at www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa on this site you can find links to documents, meeting information, contact information, public comments, and how to get involved.
Why do they have these meetings during the day when I am working?
True most of the meetings occur on a weekday when most people are working. Since these meetings are long and take most of the day and require other working individuals to attend or participate that is generally when they occur.
What should I do to get involved?
At a minimum write a letter or send an email. The process is going to happen, it has been challenged in court and will proceed. The people making the decisions need to know what areas are important to you. Send them a letter/email telling them what area(s) are most important to you and why. Make it personal yet professional. These people are making a big decision that most do not take lightly, they need to hear from you.
Emails can be sent to MLPAComments@resources.ca.gov and letters can be sent to:
c/o California Natural Resources Agency
1416 Ninth Street, Suite 1311
Or faxed to 916.653.8102 Attn: MLPA Initiative
These comments are distributed to the RSG members and others as well as posted to the website for all to see and use for input.
*** SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT ***A special meeting has been called on May 19th to allow for public comment to begin after dinner at around 7:00 PM in Santa Ana. This is an opportunity for all those who work to attend and get their public comment presented to the RSG. This comment period occurs the night prior to workshop breakout days to finalize maps designating round two MPA proposals. This is a perfect time to provide your input as to what areas are important to you for keeping open or closing and why.
Comment cards should be filled out and handed in before 7:00 PM as they may limit comments to only those cards received by that time.
The meeting location is:
Doubletree Hotel Santa Ana
201 East MacArthur Blvd.
Santa Ana, CA 92707