Monday, June 29, 2009

Fisherman to Chrisman: Shame On You

Blog: MLPA on the North Coast

Mr. Mike Chrisman
State of California Resources Agency
1416 Ninth Street
Suite 1311
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Mr. Chrisman, June 20, 2009

My name is Allan Jacobs. I am a 3rd generation Californian. My heritage includes subsistence hunting and fishing. I am a retired science and math teacher and a retired commercial fisherman. I just received a copy of your letter to Cindy Gustafson, President of the California Fish and Game Commission dated June1, 2009. You stated that you were “…writing to clarify the Schwarzenegger Administration’s position on the implementation of California’s Marine Life Protection Act.” In a like fashion, I am writing to you to clarify the North Coast Citizens’ position on the implementation of the MLPA, because your letter suggests that you may not be clear on “…the wishes, needs, and desires of all those who enjoy these resources…” along the rural California coast.

Let’s take a moment to review more of the text from which I extracted the two quotes in my opening paragraph. You wrote “I am writing to clarify the Schwarzenegger Administration’s position on the implementation of California’s Marine Life Protection Act. Commentary among California Fish and Game Commission members during your May14 meeting suggests that some commissioners may not be clear on their charge to adopt a Marine Life Protection Program network of marine protected areas.” After reading this part of your letter I was reminded that the Commission’s web site also states their “charge” very nicely and it differs somewhat from your interpretation. It says in part: “The Commissioners’ ultimate decisions must reflect not only the biological needs of our fish and wildlife, but also the wishes, needs and desires of all those who enjoy these resources with the interest, understanding and involvement of everyone who appreciates our magnificent fish and wildlife resources. The California fish and Game Commission will continue along the path of sound and enlightened resource management.” It is clear to me that the commissioners would be derelict in their duties if they adopted any MPA proposal if there is evidence that it does not represent the “…the wishes, needs, and desires of all those who enjoy these resources…” along the rural California coast. Again, the key words necessary for the Commission’s decisions here are “…the wishes, needs, and desires of all those who enjoy these resources…” and not as you wrote, just because, “Hundreds of people have directly participated, tens of thousands of hours have been dedicated, and dozens of groups are committed to making this process a success.” In addition, the Commissioners would be derelict if they adopted any MPA proposal that could not be enforced or monitored as required by legislation, for any reason, including a lack of funding. To do so would not be “… continuing along the path of sound and enlightened resource management.”

Further into your letter you wrote: “The Legislature was clear that the Fish and Game Commission’s charge is to adopt a final master plan and network of marine protected areas to be managed through the Marine Life Protection Program within the California Department of Fish and Game. The issue of MLPA funding is beyond the Commission’s scope and is more appropriately the purview of the Governor and Legislature, where budgeting decisions are made.” (Or, I might add that based upon recent history: where budgeting decisions are not made.) I submit to you that delaying any further adoptions of MPAs is exactly the most responsible step the Commissioner’s can make. Your demand that they move blindly on to adopt MPAs just because there was adequate funding to write them on paper, but obviously not enough for enforcement or monitoring them – as legislated - is a completely irresponsible expectation. Shame on you for pressuring the Commissioners to shirk their greater responsibility to the Citizens of the California just to please some special interest groups who apparently lack the patience and maturity to make sure the current proposals are the best choices and represent “…the wishes, needs, and desires of all those who enjoy these resources…” along the rural California coast where they will have the greatest impact, and that they are adequately funded in order to continue “…along the path of sound and enlightened resource management.”

My final point concerns your comment: “Ultimately, those who will most directly benefit in the long term from a healthy ocean, namely recreational and commercial fishermen, are being hurt by those few who seem opposed to the MLPA Initiative.” This statement shows that you have missed the most important point of all. You need to go back and listen to what is being said by myself and others at all of the meetings (including the May 14th meeting you referred to in your letter). Allow me to say it again now as clearly and carefully as possible. The vast majority of “…those few [of us] who seem opposed to the MLPA Initiative” are the recreational, commercial and subsistence fishermen. Oh, and by the way, we are not few in number. In Northern California and the more rural areas we are the majority. We are well aware of the necessity of responsible regulations and MPAs. We strongly believe that our chosen lifestyle, including the gathering of local sea food in a sustainable fashion, is a legitimate right that we wish to continue. We subscribe to the philosophy that humans can continue to exist harmoniously as active, participating members of our local ecosystem. We don’t disagree with the intent of the MLPA, as legislated. We don’t disagree with the need to use good science in forming MPAs. What continues to cause us to react strongly and negatively is:

1. Some proposals, as written on paper, are excessive to the point of being punitive. For example the IPA proposal closes over one third of Subregion 1 of the NCCSR, and what the IPA proposes for the Point Arena area has become the classic example of the worst case scenario of MLPA applications.
2. Some proposals, as written on paper, are not based on the best current science.
3. Some of the guidelines of the masterplan are not based upon the best current science.
4. Some proposals do not follow the guidelines of the masterplan.
5. Some proposals will do more ecological harm than good.
6. The arrogance of many of those in positions of authority and power, and their lack of willingness to work openly and cooperatively with the rural communities, has alienated most locals.

The MLPAI process has been advertised as being a transparent “…process that fosters inclusiveness and progress.” However, for us the MLPAI process has too often been not readily available or not accessible to the general public and could more aptly be described as “invisible” and “fostering exclusiveness.” We have tried hard to work within the system and participate in every stage of the MLPA process. At times we felt as if we were being considered. At other times we felt as if our rights and the wishes, needs, and desires of the locals who enjoy our marine resources were being completely ignored. Your June 1, 2009 letter was another of these occasions when we felt our rights were being violated. It is a shining example of governmental arrogance and ignorance of the true “…wishes, needs, and desires of all those who enjoy these resources…”

Having our concerns heard and considered by the Fish and Game Commission is nearly our last hope for a fair and equitable solution for the North Central Coast Region. It is also an important step for setting the course in preparation for the MLPAI process on the North Coast Region. Do not make matters worse by attempting to bully the Commissioners into making a hasty, poor decision.


Allan Jacobs
Point Arena, Ca

Sutton still being investigated for conflicts of interest

By Ed Zieralski

Fish and Game Commissioner Michael Sutton remains the target of an investigation by the Fair Political Practices Commission's enforcement division for his alleged conflicts of interest regarding his employment at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and his decision making on the Marine Life Protection Act.

Sutton told fellow commissioners and a commission audience in Woodland on Thursday that he received an advice letter from the FPPC that "has cleared the air," and that it agrees that "there are no conflicts, that I am able to fully participate in any and all MLPA public processes and deliberations regarding marine protected areas for the North Coast region without conflict."

But not so fast.

I have a a copy of the letter Sutton received from the Fair Political Practices Commission, and it clearly states that the letter to Sutton is merely an advice letter from the legal division of the FPPC that Sutton's attorney requested. The letter from the FPPC says it is based solely on the facts Sutton's attorney presented and "does not evaluate any conduct that has already taken place."

The letter is based on Sutton's claim that he nor the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where he is vice president of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation and director of its Center for the Future of the Oceans, will benefit financially from Sutton's votes on the commission.

A spokesman from the FPPC said Sutton will continue to be investigated. The FPPC's enforcement division will continue to gather its own facts regarding the sworn complaint against Sutton filed to the FPPC by the Central Coast Fisheries Conservation Coalition. The complaint states Sutton violated the Political Reform Act of 1974 because of his conflicts of interest on votes on the Marine Life Protection Act while serving as a commissioner.

The FPPC concluded in its advice letter to Sutton: "There is a nexus between Commissioner Sutton's private and public obligations in the governmental decisions at issue. The Act therefore permits his participation in these decisions only if it is not resonably foreseeable that they will have any financial effect on the Aquarium or on Commissioner Sutton's own personal finances. Assuming that your account of the facts correctly states that there is no such reasonably foreseeable financial effects, the Act will not bar his participation in these decisions."

The FPPC letter also makes it clear that it does not address Sutton's possible violation of common law conflict of interest or Government Code Section 1090.

When it filed its charges against Sutton to the FPPC, the Central Coast Fisheries Conservation Coalition said it has "more aggressive legal avenues to pursue if Commissioner Sutton does not resign.

"Such measures could result in civil money damages against Sutton, but we are hopeful that he will do the right thing for California," said Melvin de la Motta, president of the Central Coast Fisheries Conservation Coalition, when charges against Sutton were filed.

The Coalition claimed that Sutton's votes on the MLPA violated the Fair Practices Act "because it was reasonably foreseeable that the decision would have a material financial effect on his own income and on his employer and source of income, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation. As vice presicent and founding director of the Aquarium's Center for the Future of the Oceans, Sutton is paid a salary to influence policy and to support efforts to create a network of marine protected areas in California and offshore waters, including fully protected marine reserves. Had Sutton voted to ammend the existing MPAs for the Central Coast (which are included in the Master Plan), he would have been voting to gut or weaken a system of MPAs in which his employer exults, the Center for the Future of Oceans, under his stewardship, played a 'key role' in having adopted."

So, where does all this go from here?

Let's see what the FPPA's enforcement division comes up with on its own in regard to investigating Sutton and his alleged conflicts of interest. The Central Coast Fisheries Coalition drew up an incredible graphic that ties Sutton to many other key participants involved in the MLPA process, including the main funders of the process, the Packard Foundation, and Meg Caldwell of the Blue Ribbon Task Force.

So, let's see if the Central Coast Fisheries Conservation Coalition carries this to the next level and pursues "more aggressive legal avenues" against Sutton.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Malibu Gets Its First Look at New Marine Life Protection Law

Lively Debate Is Expected to Follow

Malibuites took part in the first public disussion of what might be in store for the local coastline in terms of possible more stringent conservation measures at a public workshop last week that addresed implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act, 10 years after its passage.

The local part of the process is called the South Coast Project. This is a regional stakeholders group and blue ribbon panel that is developing alternative protection proposals for public comment.

Several plans involving reserve areas and other Marine Protection Areas or MPAs have been developed for Malibu.

Of nearly dozens of arrays recommended for Malibu, there will be several layers of reviews by various groups, which will be subject to public hearings before a final overlay district is recommended to the state Fish and Game Commission for consideration.

Potential MPAs for the Southland, including Malibu, have been submitted for various evaluations. A science advisory team will look at the proposals, as will the state Department of Fish and Game. Guidance is provided by the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force, whose membership includes former Malibu City Council member Ken Kearsley.

A final set of recommendations will be developed by October of 2009 for consideration by the state Fish and Game Commission.

The presentation held last week at City Hall was not part of the formal process and not one of the meetings where folks could give public comment.

The 20-minute presentation that was followed by questions and answers dealt with the history of the MLPA since it was approved by state lawmakers in 1999.

Malibuites learned about the specific goals of the act and the different designations for protection.

The process, in the main, deals with levels of extraction in terms of the taking of marine life.
A State Marine Reserve prohibits all extractive activities, and at the same time may limit access and human activities including walking, swimming, boating and snorkeling. Some diving may be restricted.

A State Marine Conservation Area limits recreational and or commercial extractive activities. In a SMCA, the managing agency may permit research, education and recreational activities, and certain commercial and recreational harvest of marine resources.

A State Marine Park prohibits all commercial extractive activities and potentially some recreational activities. Any human use that would compromise protection of the species of interest, natural community or habitat or geological, cultural or recreational features may be restricted by the managing agency.

All of the protected areas may permit research, education and monitoring.

The process for designating MPAs has been completed for the North Coast and the Central Coast. The Central Coast includes the Northern Channel Islands.

There are several proposals being talked about in Malibu. Attendees were shown maps that can be accessed at the website The maps show the proposed arrays. Attendees were told most public piers are exempt from the MPAs, but not private piers are not.

Various configurations were shown for Point Dume and the stretch of coast along the coves to Paradise Cove. Some of the proposals showed most or some of Big Dume Cove included in either a SMR or SMCA.

Malibuites were urged to keep their eyes open for a series of open houses held this summer, none in Malibu, where the public will be allowed to review the MPAs, comment on the draft MPAs and provide input on particular areas of interest. The closest open houses will be in Oxnard on July 8 and Marina Del Rey on July 7.

Fish and Game Commissioner Richards fires back at Resources Secretary Chrisman

By Ed Zieralski

Fish and Game Commissioner Dan Richards has sent a defiant letter to California Natural Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman to remind him that Governor-appointed commissioners like him are free to act independently and without "undo influence from any source."

Richards' missive was a no-nonsense response to Chrisman's letter sent earlier to the Fish and Game Commissioners. Though Chrisman didn't name any names, he clearly was aiming at Commissioners Richards Jim Kellogg, both of whom have called for a halt to the MLPA until the state's budget crisis is over. Chrisman has said numerous times now that the Commissioners don't need to worry about funding the MLPA process. Their job, he repeated often, is to get the planning done and get the marine protected areas in place. He wants them to leave the funding to him and others.

Richards disagrees, and now insiders who follow California's political scene closely say they can't remember a time when a Governor-appointed commissioner such as Richards fired off a letter like this to one of the Governor's top ranking officials such as Chrisman.

"While the Commission members are appointed by the Governor, once appointed, the Commission members are independent, and should be free to exercise our responsibilities without undo influence from any source," Richards said in his letter to Chrisman dated June 22. "Therefore, it is not only fitting but proper that the Commission seek direction from the Legislature as to what priority the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) holds in the current discusion regarding the state budget crisis."

Richards made it clear in his letter that he and Kellogg are within their rights as Commissioners to question the proper funding of the MLPA process.

"The Fish and Game Code contains the MLPA and, among other requirements, in section 2859(b) limits the implementation of these protected areas '... to the extent funds are available,'" Richards said. "Therefore, in accordance with the law, the budget crisis facing California, and in direct contrast to your assertion, the issue of adequate funding is fully and appropriately within the Commission's purview."

Richards stated that California simply can't afford the more than $35 million it will take annually for scientific monitoring and enforcement of the marine protected areas. Richards pointed out that California's Legislative Analyst's Office recommended to the Legislature that the MLPA be suspended. Also, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee "voted unanimously to strip all General Fund support to the Department of Fish and Game for MLPA activities." The Budget Committee did direct the Ocean Protection Council to "backfill" the loss of General Fund money with Proposition 84 funds, but Richards stated that "it is unclear if those funds are even available, which I am sure you know, or if they can be legally used for that purpose."

Richards also is bothered by the fact that the Department of Fish and Game will be impacted even more by the MLPA because the Budget Committee adopted Schwarzenegger's proposal to eliminate an additional $30 million in General Fund money given to the DFG and replace it with $30 million from the license fees from hunters and fishermen.

"This one-time, legally questionable gimmick requires license purchasers (mainly sportsmen and women) to subsidize the Department's general enforcement activities and other programs and irresponsibly exhausts the reserves in these programs," Richards said to Chrisman. "As a former member of the Commission, how in good conscience can you ask that we impose $35 million in unfunded costs on the Department when you do not even have a plan to maintain the existing inadequate levels of funding for the Department beyond next June?"

Richards finished his letter to Chrisman with a plea to the ex-Commissioner and now Resources Secretary to "join with the Commission to help protect the Department of Fish and Game, it's good employees and the current programs and projects they are so gallantly trying to implement and manage under rapidly diminishing resources."

Reached yesterday on the eve of today's Fish and Game Commission meeting, Richards said he will continue to try and get the state to recognize the problems with the funding of the MLPA process and the fact that fishermen see it as an unfair process.

"This is not a fishermen versus environmentalists matter," Richards said. "This is a fiscal matter to me. The process, up until recently, has been pretty fair, open and honest. Recent deals have soured some segments of the public. But for the most part, the process has been pretty fair. But what I'm not going to do is put my head in the sand like many others and ignore the fiscal crisis California is in right now. The Department of Fish and Game already is laying off people, cutting programs. Now they want to layer on another program that isn't funded? How did this get priority over all those other programs? It's inappropriate, plain and simple."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Several Malibu beaches targeted for marine protection

By Olivia Damavandi / Staff Writer
Malibu Times

Activities could be restricted at the beaches if they are included in marine protected areas by the state.

Malibu residents gathered at City Hall last week to give input and receive information about the Marine Life Protection Act, which could possibly affect access and activities, such as fishing, at Westward Beach, Point Dume and Paradise Cove. No final decisions will be made until the end of this year.

The MLPA is a state-required program pending adoption to improve and preserve marine ecosystems. Enacted by the state in 1999, the act seeks to create additional marine protection areas-separate marine or estuarine areas designed to protect marine life and habitat-that would limit or prohibit human access and certain activities.

Despite the good intentions of the MLPA, some residents worry that it will deny them access to certain beaches. The protection act could also pose an economic impact on coastal businesses by prohibiting fishing and boat tours, among other activities.

"We've got to try to meet the needs of everyone," Ken Kearsley, a former city council member who serves on one of the committees involved in the implementation of the MLPA, said Tuesday. "The commercial fishermen, because its their livelihood, the sports fishermen, kayakers and the environment.

"California currently has three types of marine protected areas, listed in decreasing levels of recreational public utilization: state marine reserves, state marine parks and state marine conservation areas. Depending on the level of stringency, the areas could prohibit a wide range of activities, from walking on tide pools to spear fishing.

Kearsley said the act would be advantageous to the city because "we will be able to administer and control some of the offshore resources of Malibu."

Residents Judith Guillemont and Suzanne and Hans Zimmer in recent letters to the state expressed their desire for Point Dume to be made into a marine reserve.

"We strongly believe that a marine reserve at Point Dume is mandatory for the survival of Malibu ... tourists flock to the beaches of Malibu, and Point Dume is an international travel destination," Guillemont wrote. "If Point Dume remains unprotected, and its ecosystems and marine life continues to dwindle, as is happening now at accelerated rates, how will we be able to remain a viable community?"

However, Kearsley was also quick to mention that many residents will oppose the marine protected areas.

"In the most restricted areas there's no taking, including spear fishing," Kearsley said. "You can't even throw a [fishing] line in. If Paradise Cove or Point Dume is closed off, there will be a lot of people upset in Malibu."

South Coast summer public open houses will be conducted throughout June and July at various locations where informational stations will be available, and the public can review and comment on draft marine protected area proposals. The closest open houses will be in Marina Del Rey on July 7, at the Marina Del Rey Hotel, 13534 Bali Way, and July 8 at the Residence Inn, 2101 W. Vineyard Ave., Oxnard. The open houses take place between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

More information can be obtained by calling 916.654.1885 or online at

Ocean Protection Coalition Opposes Corrupted MLPA Process

North Coast (Indy Bay)

This great article by Judith Vidaver of the Ocean Protection Coalition, published in the coalition's June newsletter, strongly opposes Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's corrupt fast-track Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Process. There is nothing "green" about this process that aims to kick sustainable seaweed harvesters, fishermen and abalone divers off Point Arena to pave the way for offshore oil rigs, wave energy projects and corporate aquaculture.

Ocean Protection Coalition Opposes Corrupted MLPA

By Judith Vidaver

In 1999 the California State Legislature passed the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). This Act seeks to protect diversity of marine life and “help sustain, conserve and protect” marine populations.

To do this, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) would be established with varying levels of restrictions on allowable activities. The Act further requires monitoring and adaptive management of MPAs. While well-intended, the implementation has been fraught with controversy.

On June 13, OPC attended the Sustainable Fisheries Reality Tour held in Point Arena and heard the concerns of credible fisheries experts. Speakers included Craig Bell (Mendocino County Fish and Game Advisory Commissioner), Jim Martin (Recreational Fishing Alliance and Fish and Game Advisory Commissioner), Allan Jacobs (science instructor), John and Barbara Stephens-Lewallen and Larry Knowles (Mendocino Seaweed Stewardship Alliance) and many other community members who will be impacted by the proposed “Marine Protected Areas.

“Welcome to the Point Arena upwelling,” said Craig Bell, as he opened the meeting part of the Point Arena Sustainable Fisheries Reality Tour. “Point Arena is one of the most environmentally active cities on the North Coast and we don’t support the MLPA’s Integrated preferred alternative (IPA), he said.

“Don’t underestimate us,” Bell added. “We’ve been giant killers before in Point Arena.”

Bell emphasized that the MLPA process has been expanded from a $250,000 process (as originally intended when the law passed in 1999) to an out of control $25 to $40 million financial boondoggle. Fisheries experts agreed that the current MLPA plan proposed for the North-Central Coast region (extending from Point Arena to Pigeon Point in San Mateo County) is fatally flawed and shouldn’t be approved by the State Fish and Game Commission in August.

We learned that the process (which was supposed to be stakeholder- driven and democratic) of developing the “recommended alternative” was corrupted. Local stakeholders’ concerns were repeatedly ignored and their recommendations over-ridden by the Packard Foundation and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a national environmental organization based in San Francisco.

The major weaknesses of the proposed plan include:
• It will not do as it was intended to do and will unduly harm fishers and other users of the ocean and seriously impact the local economy.
• The program will be prohibitively expensive to enforce.
• Our assemblyman Wes Chesbro requested an investigation into claims of possible conflict of interest by Blue Ribbon Task Force member Michael Sutton.The Blue Ribbon Task Force oversees the development of alternative proposals for Marine Protected Areas.

For these reasons OPC will not support the NRDC alternative for the North-Central Coast region.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Laguna Beach Endorses Citywide Fishing Ban


Laguna Beach's City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to request that the California Department of Fish and Game give Laguna the highest possible level of marine protection, barring fishing of any kind in Laguna's coastal waters by declaring the city's entire seven-mile coastline a State Marine Reserve.
Council member Toni Iseman, who initiated the measure, said, "Let the ocean lay fallow. I'm asking for a time out." Mayor Kelly Boyd cast the dissenting vote.

Nearly 50 people gave impassioned speeches, ranging from water quality advocates to recreational and commercial fishermen, over the course of two and a half hours of public testimony.

The council's decision is non-binding, but serves to put California Department of Fish and Game ( authorities on notice of its position before regional hearings underway to revise coastal protections under the Marine Life Protection Act (http://www. reach conclusion.

Council member Elizabeth Pearson expressed her frustration with the situation. "I haven't seen any of the science. All we know is what opinions are. I don't know that we're over fished. I don't know that we need replenishment. But I do know this: I have seen some disgusting things happening at Shaw's Cove over the last 20 years. There's been abuse after abuse after abuse. We keep educating and giving people tickets and putting people on staff and empowering the lifeguards and we can't seem to stop it. So this is our last chance to do something… we are going to request that we be considered as a reserve."

Opponent Roger Healy, president of Dana Cove Fisherman's Association and a 35-year local resident, is in the process of earning a sustainability certification by the Marine Stewardship Council (http:// for the lobster fishery in the area. He feels the rules are being applied unevenly and unfairly, citing Laguna resident Jan Sattler, who brought in two garibaldi, the protected California state fish, as evidence of irresponsible fishing.

"If I was caught with that garibaldi, I would lose all my fishing permits. Several guys went out and called the (Fish and Game) warden when they saw her walk in with that. That disgusts me as a fisherman that anyone would be in possession of that."

In pursuing a single citywide designation, the council asserted that education and enforcement of varied regulations is too difficult. Enforcing a simple "no fishing" policy for the entire Laguna coast would be cheaper, easier and clearer to the public, according to a staff report.

Numerous speakers pointed out Laguna's inadequate enforcement now with a single marine protection officer who lacks a boat to patrol seven miles of shoreline three miles wide. "The area will be a poacher's paradise and exclude the legitimate fishermen," Healy claimed.

Economics loomed large in the discussion. Several commercial fishermen said their livelihoods would be jeopardized because Laguna provided a fishing habitat that could not be found elsewhere. "They want to close seven of the 12 miles of the coast I fish. It will absolutely destroy me as an individual. And several of the others that fish in the area will be destroyed as well," said Healy.

A ban on fishing in Laguna would increase pressure on wildlife in adjacent areas, like San Clemente and Newport Beach, said Jim Dahl, a San Clemente City Council member.
Iseman countered that wildlife abundance in marine reserves as populations rebound will actually alleviate fishing pressures nearby.

Greg O'Loughlin, a member of the city's environmental committee, echoed that sentiment, saying fishermen in central California, where the Marine Life Protection Act process has already been finalized, say fishing adjacent to marine reserves has improved. O'Loughlin, an avid diver, surfer and fisherman, supports greater restrictions in Laguna, which he described as over fished. "I understand the loss. I might not be able to go and fish in front of my house. I'm willing to pay the price to go a little farther to preserve an area."

The City Council's measure suggests a marine reserve would spawn a different sort of economic impact, boosting tourism and raising property values. Opponents dismissed the notion, saying people drawn to the area for fishing would stop coming.

Joel Greenburg, Southern California chapter chairman of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, said the council's proposal is, "too far over the top. It would wipe out the economies of two major ports (Dana Pt. Harbor and Newport Harbor). That's like saying only my piece of the coast matters and yours doesn't."

Laguna Beach lacks the authority to designate a Marine Protected Area, a responsibility that rests with the state Fish and Game Department. Under the Marine Life Protection Act, regulators must establish Marine Protected Areas that function as a statewide network.
The Regional Stakeholder's Group ( mlpa/scproject.asp), 64 represen- tatives from various ocean-related interests, are charged under the MLPA with making a recommendation to state game regulators. A third and final round of revisions is in the works this summer before a final proposal is submitted by year end. Laguna's marine protection officer, Calla Alison, is among the stakeholder group.

Currently all six proposals under consideration declare some part of Laguna a State Marine Reserve, but none impose the designation across the entire coast of Laguna.

"We are trying to listen to all the voices," said Jenn Fienberg, an RSG member and ocean policy consultant to the National Resources Defense Council. "So we will listen to (the Laguna City Council) just as we would listen to 20 fishermen talking about their favorite fishing spots."
Mayor Boyd, who cast the sole dissenting vote, said, "we all know what the economic stimulus package did for us. Now we're going to stimulate these people by taking their livelihood away?

"We're not looking at the overall picture. Who the hell is going to enforce it? So now we're going to go seven miles long, three miles out, with the state $24 billion in debt, Laguna $800,000 in debt, and we're going to enforce? I don't think so."

DFG commissioner under investigation

Jim Matthews, Outdoor Writer
The San Bernadino Sun

California Fish and Game Commission member Michael Sutton is being investigated by the Fair Political Practices Commission in response to a complaint filed against him by the Central Coast Fisheries Conservation Coalition, a sportfishing and commercial fishing interest group.

The group has charged that Sutton violated conflict of interest provisions in the Political Reform Act of 1974 when he voted on Marine Life Protection Act issues as a member of the commission.
The MLPA is legislation that was passed in 1999 and requires the establishment of a series of marine reserves off the California coastline. The south Central Coast region was the first to have its marine reserves established and sportfishing and commercial interests felt that most of the viable fishing areas were included in reserves closed to sport and commercial fishing. A battle is raging in Southern California now about what areas will be protected and what areas will be left open.

Melvin de la Motte, CCFCC president, said Sutton's votes on MLPA issues would have a material financial effect on his own income and on his employer and source of income, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation, which is a violation of law. De la Motte also said Sutton violated Fish and Game Commission policy by failing to disclose his employment with the aquarium. De La Motte said Sutton's votes also opened him up to legal action.

The FPPC has 45 days to investigate Sutton from May 19, the date it accepted the complaint.

"The right thing for him to do would be resign," de la Motte said.

Adrianna Shea, external affairs and special adviser to the commissioners, said this was something the commission has never had to deal with in the past, but that Sutton would continue in his role as commissioner, including voting on issues.

Shea also said that Sutton did not vote on Central Coast MLPA regulations because those rules were adopted before he was a commissioner.

De la Motte disputed that, saying Sutton voted against amending the existing marine life protected areas on the Central Coast because the Center for the Future of the Oceans, which he runs, played a "key role" in passing MLPA legislation and pushing the vast protected area closures on the Central Coast.

Shea said the 45-day period of Sutton's investigation and decision will end before Sutton is scheduled to vote in August on the next round of MLPA reserves, the north Central Coast region. If Sutton is removed from the commission, Shea did not know if the commission would have to revisit issues where his vote was the determining voice, and expected the FPPC would give them guidance on that issue.

The filing and threat of a lawsuit point out how contentious the whole MLPA process has become, and most people in the sportfishing community feel that vast closed areas are going to be rammed through in spite of the public process that is showing the majority of the public is opposed to closures of all the best fishing regions.

There is a solution to this whole process that would make sense and give fishermen, the scientific community and environmental groups solid data on which to push their causes.

Since the process is already in its second decade, why not look at the data coming from the Central Coast closures, which have been in place for two years, and see if it is working? While most scientists say it will be 10 years before they can make determinations about the closures successes, that only adds another eight years to the process. If, as sportfishermen suggest, the data doesn't support the closures, we can rethink the rest of the coastal areas and take other conservation routes.

A process that moves slow and bases decision based on science for our coast would make far more sense and rushing to judgment on closures now that may or may not have the desired impacts.

There's also the issue of funding. With state and federal governments that are broke, it doesn't make sense to heap more expenses on the system in enforcement and study costs. Let's enforce and study the Central Coast now and see where we should go with the rest of the state's coastal waters.

Profits in poaching exceed the fines, if the person is caught The Department of Fish and Game declared 2008 "the year of extreme poaching," according to Audubon California. The rise in extreme poaching matches that of poaching overall. Violations rose from 6,538 in 2003 to 17,840 in 2007, even with the warden force down to less than 200 active-duty wardens statewide. It's way past time to get tough.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Local ocean lovers oppose new state protection plan

Fort Bragg Advocate-News

A privately-funded state program could turn one quarter of the offshore coasts of Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties into underwater parks.

Not surprisingly, the creation of Marine Life Protection Areas is controversial among many consistent foes of offshore oil drilling and other ocean development.

But in this case, the usual ocean protectors are so far all opposed to the new level of protection.
The Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), which passed in 1999, is finally about to be felt in the Fort Bragg area.

Constantly interrupted by the annual state budget debacles, the state has been working sporadically for a decade on creating protected areas in five different regions. The MLPA process for the north central coast, which ends in Point Arena, is now concluding.

This summer, the state seeks to begin the process of creating another set of underwater parks — from Alder Creek just north of Point Arena to the Oregon Border.

Between 20 and 25 percent of the prime fishing areas off Fort Bragg from shore to three miles out could be closed to uses like seaweed harvesting, abalone diving, commercial crab fishing and recreational fishing, those involved in past efforts say.

With state budget crises having drowned the process twice, the MLPA parks are now being created with private money from corporate trusts like the Packard Foundation and the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation.

Local seaweed harvesters, recreational fishers and abalone divers have led a crusade against the implementation of MLPAs. There have been criticisms of the process being confusing and much of the planning being done in private.

The Salmon Restoration Association spent $2,500 this month from the money it raises from the annual World's Largest Salmon Barbecue in an effort to help fishermen and the community understand the issue better. The money will help organize meetings and other public outreach so that locals can better understand the MLPA process.

The SRA pledged another $2,500 once opportunities to explain the process to locals become clearer. For example, the SRA money will seek to help fishermen use GIS software to try out different kinds of maps and see how their information compares to science guidelines.

Although the process represents increased environmental protection for the ocean and is being pushed aggressively by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, local reaction so far has ranged from bemusement to strident opposition.

While the Department of Fish and Game website is loaded with information about the MLPA process, the sections regarding the area from Point Arena to the Oregon border are blank. The website says information will be added when the process gets started this summer.

For the past four years, seaweed harvester John Lewallen of Philo has led opposition to the MLPA process. Lewallen says the process is a corporate plot intended to divide ocean protectors, with the ultimate result being offshore oil drilling.

The waters offshore Mendocino County have long been a target for oil drilling and are being considered for drilling in a process headed by the Obama administration.
Lewallen is among those upset too, that sustainable ocean uses are lumped in with all other kinds of extraction.

Jim Martin, vice president of the Salmon Restoration Association, suggested the study funds. He points out that at a time the state is closing hundreds of revenue producing state parks, there is no state money available for a large number of underwater parks.

"Fishermen will support marine protected areas (MPAs) when they are based in science and have clear, quantifiable goals that are integrated into existing fishery management. However, without the commitment of public funds for the monitoring, evaluation and enforcement of the new network of MPAs, they become paper parks' protected in name only," said Martin.

Martin is also a top official of the Recreation Fishing Association and a member of the Mendocino County Fish and Game Commission. He criticizes the cost of the program, which has multiplied exponentially since it was proposed. He said local impacts in loss of revenue for party boats and commercial fishermen would add greatly to the cost.

"We find the costs estimated to implement the MLPA are simply staggering: at minimum, $35 million per year. Budget concerns are an issue with every government entity in the state, and our county board of supervisors is very concerned about the job losses associated with these impacts to recreational and commercial fishing businesses," Martin said.

Perhaps most irksome to locals is that the MLPA process is not following open government rules. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has allowed industry to plan its wave energy process in much the same way.
"Special interest groups have hijacked the MLPA," Martin said. "The Packard Foundation has picked up most of the tab for the public meetings and has influenced key policy decisions. Contracts with the MLPA initiative staff are not subject to legislative oversight or public scrutiny, as they would have been had the process been conducted under the Department of Fish and Game."

Martin says state law that requires DFG to take public input and come up with a preferred alternative has been violated by the public-private backroom nature of this process.

"The Department of Fish & Game has been completely marginalized in the MLPA process. The agreement between the governor and the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation stripped the DFG of its statutory role. This worked greatly to the disadvantage of the final regulatory package we have before us today," Martin said.

Cindy Arch, who has been involved in ocean preservation efforts locally for many years, worries that large-scale fishing and even fish farming could be among the motives of the private backers.
"Aquaculture is a big goal. Remember those cute little cards the Monterey Bay Aquarium (Packard) puts out telling folks which seafood is best' and which to avoid. I have a collection from over the years, and guess what? Farmed fish are now the majority of the best' fish to eat," Arch said.

"I find this focus on science policy interface' very disturbing as it is funded by the charitable arms of huge businesses. Look at how much money has been pumped into Silicon Valley to develop technology under the guise of national security, technology that is now being used to research and zone the oceans for the benefit of big business," Arch said.

The Ocean Protection Council, which has worked to defeat energy production in the ocean, has taken a stance against the MLPA as proposed for this area.

Many locals want local planning, not division of the ocean by corporate and state interests.

The Department of Fish and Game is in the early stages of planning local meetings, beginning with Portland, Ore.-based Ecotrust workshops for commercial and recreational fishermen June 22 and 23, and July 2.

For more information about the commercial and recreational fishing workshops, contact Charles Steinback at

The entire process is described at:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obama announces plan to protect O.C. beaches -- President appoints task force to create national policy on ocean-quality issues across country

The Orange County Register

HUNTINGTON BEACH – A new national policy to address beach water-quality issues and other environmental concerns could help rehabilitate and protect seven Orange County beaches that have been dubbed some of the dirtiest in the state, officials say.

President Barack Obama on Friday set up a task force to devise the first national policy for sustaining and managing oceans and conserving natural resources, according to a memorandum released by the White House.

"We are taking a more integrated and comprehensive approach to developing a national ocean policy that will guide us well into the future," Obama wrote. "This policy will incorporate ecosystem-based science and management and emphasize our public stewardship responsibilities."

The group will be headed by Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the Council on Environmental Quality, and various high-level officials.

This is the first time the federal government has created a national policy regarding beach environmental issues; however it is not the first time an administration has looked to protect beaches.

Mark Gold, president of the nonprofit environmental group Heal the Bay, said he is cautiously positive about the plan, but hopes the federal government keeps its promise.

"I think it's a good sign," Gold said. "But obviously there were incredible recommendations that came from U.S. Ocean Commission in the Bush Administration and those got completely ignored."

Vern Goehring, president of the California Fisheries Coalition, said he is also wary of the president’s plan.

“I think it’s really vague,” Goehring said. “I think it sounds like a nice concept but there are lots of details that need to be worked out.”

Beaches across the country face an array of serious issues including pollution from urban and agricultural runoff, overfishing and climate change, which can alter the acidity of the ocean and harm marine life, Gold said.

However, Goehring said overfishing isn’t a grave concern in California.

“It’s easy and cheap to throw in the concern about overfishing,” he said. “There are really no reports of overfishing going on in California.”

Goehring added he is concerned if more fishing restrictions are implemented it could mean less attention paid to pollution in the ocean.

"If they presume that shutting down fishing is ecosystem-based management then, of course, I don't think it does help," he said. "We see it frequently - they increase the restrictions on fishing then move on to something else."

One of the biggest challenges Orange County beaches face is ensuring that plastics don't get into the ocean, Gold said.

"This is a very critical issue for Orange County," he said. "Not only do we see plastic-strewn shores in some of the most remote places … but we're also seeing devastating impacts on marine life."

Heal the Bay releases weekly reports on hundreds of California beaches and once a year releases a comprehensive study.

The annual report released in May shows that 97 percent of Orange County beaches have excellent water quality during dry summer months. Orange County's cleanest beaches stretch from Seal Beach just north of San Juan Creek and from Avenida Pico to San Clemente state and city beaches.

Seven Orange County beaches failed the test, including Poche Beach in San Clemente and some smaller areas at Doheny State Beach, both of which made Heal the Bay's Beach Bummer list of the top 10 dirtiest beaches in the state.

But during the rainy season, water quality drops significantly countywide, the study shows.
Just 48 percent of Orange County's beaches received favorable marks. Last year, 58 percent of local beaches were considered to have good water quality during winter months, Heal the Bay reported.

The county also saw 18 sewage spills in 2008 totaling 668,000 gallons, many resulting in beach closures. Laguna, Doheny and Moulton Niguel Water District all closed beaches for at least four days.

Obama's task force will have three months to come up with recommendations for improving U.S. beaches and a strategy for how to implement the plan, according to the president's memorandum.

The task force is expected to work with the public and within six months produce the framework to conserve and protect the oceans.

Obama also released a proclamation naming June National Oceans Month to coincide with his push for cleaner beaches.

Contact the writer: 949-553-2932 or

Monday, June 15, 2009

Delay the MPA's

The Eureka Times-Standard

It's unfortunate that state regulators seem unwilling to budge on the approaching establishment of Marine Protected Areas off our coast, a move that could severely restrict where fishing is allowed in our local waters despite a dearth of real science.

Their reluctance was signaled through a spokesman from the California Resources Agency, who said flatly that a delay requested by the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District was “not going to happen.”

At least it's nice to know where we stand. The spokesman went on to say that no one was being steamrolled by the Marine Life Protection Act process.

The gist of the issue is that there is little in the way of hard science to prove that our area would benefit from such marine reserves, and to guide where and how they should be implemented.
Additionally, it remains questionable whether the state has the ability and resources to properly monitor the reserves, and enforce the provisions that will put them in place.

Without such information, and without what's needed to properly administer what could be a profound limit on our local fishing industry -- already a remnant of what once plied these waters -- the idea seems more and more like another cookie-cutter solution for a problem with vast complexity and numerous, ill-understood variables.

Appropriately, the letter from the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District's working group also asks that reserve planning take into account existing reserves and closures and minimize the economic effects to the fishing community.

But again, that brings us back to the science -- if we don't have the information necessary to understand how existing measures and closures are already affecting fish stocks, how can we possibly chart a future course that reflexively includes the roping off of more area? And if we can't afford to monitor the MPAs, how will the restrictions ever be lifted?

Putting the cart before the horse? This seems to be an epidemic in state government.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Crushing Blanket of Humanity

by Wendy Tochihara

In considering Marine Protected Areas I have been focused on facilitating sustainable fisheries interests and how to meet the goals of the MLPA while doing so efficiently as possible. I realize that there are other interests at the table that are looking to maximize the opportunity that instituting the MLPA provides to preserve areas for natural ecosystem function. Merely efficiently meeting the goals of the Act is less than what people of that perspective would hope for.

The choice in trading off fisheries opportunity for preservation opportunity is something I want to jointly see we are doing. By preservation interests I mean folks who value more, the preservation of areas where marine ecosystems function as they did before people became such a big part of them. To meet the requirements of the MLPA even minimally it would appear that the scale of an MPA array required is much larger than that which provides a mutual benefit to both fisheries sustainability and preservation interests. The exception is the case where harvest management fails. Then the more habitat that is removed from unsustainable fishing the better. My main concern is the sincerity and acknowledgement by the participants that trading sustainable fisheries opportunity for areas of natural ecosystem function is what they are doing by going beyond minimally meeting the goals of the Act. In fact the spirit of the Act addresses preservation values to a great degree. Even minimally meeting its goals delves deeply into the trade-off zone.

During this process one of the things that I have observed is an overwhelming desire to lessen the effects of the “crushing blanket of humanity” on the marine ecosystem. Although the sins of the crushing blanket are evident in the marine environment in many ways we seem to be relatively limited within this process as to how we address “giving something back.”

Stopping fishing may be the “low hanging fruit” but for many at the table it would be more appropriately labeled “somebody else’s fruit.” It’s relatively easy to give up for them.

Sharing the pain, improving the gain.

Many of the sins of the crushing blanket are addressed in ways beyond the scope of the MLPA to address. These include urban runoff, wastewater, landfill leachate, legacy pollution, nitrate loading due to agriculture runoff, inputs due to air pollution and many others. One that is within the scope of the Act appears to be disturbance based impacts.

As a private boater and recreational angler for many years one of the most apparent effects of disturbance by boats motoring along in shallow water is that they put the fish off the bite. This means of course that boat traffic causes many types of nearshore fish to not eat. Beach goers are the primary reason many shore nesting birds avoid coastal shores and are found primarily in areas where public beach access is limited. With some notable exceptions the same is true of pinnipeds.

As we draw close to final proposals to be forwarded to the BRTF I think we should be considering severely limiting public access to the near-shore and shoreside areas of our backbone SMRs. This would provide for the benefits to natural ecosystem function that human disturbance based impacts would otherwise deny.

I have included Surfrider’s statement on Marine Protected areas that I think describes the kind of negative impacts people have on marine ecosystems and some laudable MPA benefits. I like that they state the mismanagement of fisheries as a problem area rather than fishing in general.

It is especially salient that this comes from the voice of a constituency that stands to have to make sacrifices in order to give back some coastal areas to nature. This sharing of the pain would be inspirational to other constituencies who most feel the pain of reduced public access to fish. We all sacrifice so that there can be refuges for nature from the crushing blanket of humanity.

Policy on Marine Protection
Approved by the Surfrider Board of Directors on October 5, 2002

The Surfrider Foundation recognizes that protection of the coastal environment requires protection of an interconnected coastal zone that includes the open ocean, near shore water, beaches, estuaries and coastal watersheds. The Surfrider Foundation further recognizes while some coastal lands and beaches have been set for permanent protection as wilderness areas, parks, reserves, preserves conservation areas, and sanctuaries less than one percent of our marine environment has any protected status. Many of our most valued marine areas have already suffered significant damage from pollution, mismanaged fishing practices and coastal development impacts.

Where as:
Less than one percent of the world’s oceans have any protected status.

There is broad scientific consensus that marine protected areas benefit marine ecosystems and have been recognized as an important marine resource protection tool.

Marine protected areas are a proactive means to protect marine environments, surfing areas, water quality, cultural, and recreational resources.

The Surfrider Foundation supports marine protected areas that will:

  1. Enhance the coastal experience by preserving wild recreational areas.
  2. Protect special coastal and ocean places from dredging and dumping, oil drilling, ocean pollution, fisheries mismanagement, large commercial vessel traffic, poorly planned coastal development and water quality. Problems, while promoting marine education, recreation and research.
  3. Restore ecosystem health in marine estuarine and beach habitats.

In addition, Surfrider believes that:

Marine protection efforts must consider the linkages between our beaches, estuaries, nearshore and offshore waters.
  • We must promote an ocean ethic, which results from education, outreach and public input.
  • Constructive conversation and local input about the design and implementation of marine protection is essential both to the equity of the protection effort and compliance with restrictions.
  • While fisheries management continues to dominate discussions of marine protection efforts, supports marine protection efforts that provide for a broader range of goals, many of which are more directly relevant to the public at large.

    Thursday, June 11, 2009

    Oceans Apart: Sport and commercial fishermen seek removal of Department of Fish and Game commissioner

    by Alastair Bland
    Sacramento News & Review

    A statewide coalition representing recreational fishermen has filed acomplaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission seeking the removal of state Fish and Game Commissioner Michael Sutton because of an alleged conflict of interest.

    The complaint by the San Luis Obispo-based Central Coast Fisheries Conservation Coalition hit the desk of the FPPC last month and claims that Sutton neglected to report he works for the Monterey Bay Aquarium on his Statement of Economic Interests form before accepting reappointment to the Fish and Game Commission by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in February.
    The Political Reform Act of 1974 prohibits public officials from participating in decisions that might affect their own financial interests.

    At issue for sport and commercial fishermen is the Marine Life Protection Act. Passed in 1999, the goal of the MLPA is to preserve and protect marine areas off the coast while minimizing the economic impact on individuals and communities that depend on sport and recreational fishing for their financial survival.

    Hammering out the details of the legislation has parted the sea between the two sides, pitting commercial and recreational fishermen against conservation groups like Ocean Conservancy, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where Sutton pulled down a $152,750 salary in 2007 as vice president of the Center for the Future of the Oceans.

    “This is an egregious conflict of interest,” said Melvin de la Motte, president of the CCFCC. “Our organization has picked a mild and quiet way to approach this, and the honest and honorable thing for Sutton to do would be to pull himself out of any decisions relating to marine issues and regulations.”

    But Monterey Bay Aquarium spokesman Ken Peterson discounts concerns that Sutton cannot fairly do his job as a Fish and Game commissioner.

    “First and foremost, he doesn’t represent the Monterey Bay Aquarium when he’s working with the Fish and Game Commission,” says Peterson.

    The aquarium’s own Web site says that it strives to “influence policy” in ocean-protection legislation. As a member of the California Fish and Game Commission, Sutton is one of five men and women who make regulatory decisions regarding marine legislation. The CCFCC’s complaint charges that Sutton is in plain violation of the Political Reform Act, which requires that officials perform their duties “in an impartial manner, free from bias caused by their own financial interests or the financial interests of persons who have supported them.”

    The FPPC has begun an investigation, and de la Motte hopes they’re quick about it, for Sutton and his fellow commissioners are now gearing up to vote on the MLPA, one of the hottest issues in current state legislation.

    After a year of impassioned deliberation, two alternate proposals for the act’s implementation—one drafted largely by fishermen, the other largely by conservation groups—hang in the balance. The Monterey Bay Aquarium supports the “Integrated Preferred Alternative,” which is opposed by many fishermen.

    The CCFCC’s de la Motte believes there is no possible way that Sutton can vote fairly on the issue and wants the commissioner to excuse himself from the vote, scheduled for August.
    Though the implementing the MLPA is a state process, it has received substantial funding from private groups. One of these—the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, based in Sacramento—is also a major beneficiary to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

    In 2005, Coastside Fishing Club filed a lawsuit over the matter, arguing that monetary support from a private entity that seeks to protect marine areas would steer the proceedings in favor of conservation groups while alienating fishermen.

    Coastside lost the lawsuit when the Superior Court in Crescent City determined that the entire process was safeguarded from abuse by the integrity of the Fish and Game Commission’s oversight. The CCFCC argues Sutton has severely compromised that integrity and must excuse himself from his duties.

    Whether Sutton will vote in August remains in question. The FPPC’s enforcement division could remove him before the vote, an action that could potentially nullify past Fish and Game Commission decisions in which Sutton took part. In addition, Sutton faces a maximum fine of $5,000 for any violation that may have occurred. Of course, Sutton could also be cleared of any wrongdoing, and the case will come to nothing at all. A matter of weeks should tell.

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009

    Outposts: Shark anglers who kill their catch may soon be unwelcome in home port

    Pete Thomas
    June 9, 2009

    Recreational fishermen in California are well aware of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative, an ongoing and controversial stakeholder-driven process that is working to put in place a vast network of marine protected areas, including no-fishing zones, along the coast.

    But many probably have not heard of the fledgling Shark-Free Marina Initiative, which recently launched a campaign to try to prohibit the landing of sharks in marinas around the world.

    The SFMI figures to receive more angler support than the MLPAI, but there will be veteran shark anglers who oppose such meddling.

    The SFMI is a response by shark conservationists to the perilous plight most species of sharks face because of rampant overfishing on a global scale, commercially.

    "Although the number of sharks killed by recreational fishermen each year is dwarfed by commercial catches, the current crisis facing shark stocks requires action wherever possible," Edd Brooks, a scientist on the SFMI advisory board, said in a news release. "We are not asking fishermen to stop fishing, only asking them to start releasing their catch."

    It's a worthy endeavor. Killing sharks for sport is increasingly unpopular and harmful to the marine environment. It's worse than killing marlin and other billfish because sharks are so slow to reproduce.

    Luke Tipple, director of the SFMI, said there are only six cooperating marinas -- it began with two marinas in the Bahamas -- but six others have registered and recruitment drives are planned for Florida and California. Essentially, cooperating marinas, which can register on the SFMI website, obtain signage and literature that cautions in bright-red lettering that bringing dead sharks back to port won't be tolerated.

    It will be interesting to see whether this will catch on and what kind of reaction it garners.

    Monday, June 8, 2009

    It's an interesting trip, following the money...

    By Ed Zieralski
    San Diego Union-Tribune

    These days, partnerships involving government and private groups for fish and game issues are leading to some pretty strange bedfellows.

    But none is stranger than the one forged recently by the California Department of Fish and Game and the Humane Society of the United States.

    The DFG uses hunting as a game management tool. It uses hunting and fishing license and tag fees and some taxpayer money to do its work. The Humane Society fights for animal rights. It survives on donations from a mostly anti-hunting constituency.

    But the Humane Society has given the DFG $5,000 for food and veterinary care for its five rescued dogs that will assist wardens in catching poachers in its Turn in Poachers program (CalTIP), and another $2,500 for reward money toward CalTIP.

    I can't fault the DFG for accepting money right now, even from the anti-hunting Humane Society, to help offset expenses or improve the overwhelmed wardens' working conditions. We may as well get used to partnerships like this, considering California's sorry economic state.
    In fishing, we're watching as anti-fishing, extreme environmentalists are funding most of the Marine Life Protection Act process.

    The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation (RLFF) has contributed over $18 million of the $34 million it has cost to run the MLPA process to date. RLFF is funded largely by the Packard Foundation, which funds the Monterey Bay Aquarium and many ocean protection programs that are no friend to fishing.

    Fish and Game Commissioner Michael Sutton, who votes on the MLPA, is being investigated for conflicts of interest by the Fair Political Practices Commission because of his ties to the Packard Foundation, which is funding the RLFF and gave money to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where Sutton is an officer.

    But the anti-fishing folks are smart. The RLFF also contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to pro-fishing groups like United Anglers and the Fishing Information Network – the latter a group of commercial and sport fishers who are fighting the anti-fishing groups in the MLPA process. Tom Raftican, the former head of United Anglers of Southern California, was forced to resign because he was sounding more like a preservationist than a conservationist after taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from the RLFF for his group.

    Bob Osborn represents United Anglers on the South Coast Regional Stakeholder Group and is having his expenses paid by RLFF money to be at the MLPA meetings. Other fishing reps are, too.

    Just this past Thursday at the Blue Ribbon Task Force meeting in Los Angeles, Ken Wiseman, executive director of the MLPA-Initiative staff, berated fishing representative Vern Goehring for criticizing special-interest funding of the MLPA process. Wiseman appeared to take great pleasure in reminding Goehring that the RLFF gave the Fishing Information Network (FIN) money to help produce its External Proposal A for marine protected areas.

    The bottom line is, for some time, United Anglers, FIN, DFG and others have been on the slippery bank of taking money from the very people they fight for access, for rights.

    Like the cockroach and the coyote, the MLPA will still roll even after the governor cuts programs for kids, the poor, schools, state parks, fishing and boating.

    That's what $18 million (and likely a lot more) bought the RLFF and the anti-fishing groups from this administration and the faces we don't see.

    The Humane Society's buy-in is a pittance compared to that.

    Friday, June 5, 2009

    MLPA Initiative a Schwarzenegger priority, budget woes notwithstanding

    LA Times

    Reed Smolan unhooks a calico bass caught off the Palos Verdes Peninsula. A portion of ocean beyond the peninsula faces possible closure as part of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. For those wondering whether California will follow through with the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative in light of the state's massive budget deficit and the drastic cuts being made elsewhere, the answer appears to be a resounding yes.

    Natural Resources Secretary Michael Chrisman on Monday delivered a memo to the California Fish and Game Commission in response to two commission members who recently suggested a delay in further implementation of the MLPA process. The MLPA Initiative staff and stakeholder groups are working toward establishing a coastwide network of marine protected areas -- which would be off-limits to fishermen -- and is currently focusing on Southern California.

    Chrisman explained to the commission, on behalf of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, that "California's process for adopting an improved system of marine protected areas is well funded. Moreover, there is no reason, funding or otherwise, for the process supporting the law to be postponed."

    Chrisman further explained that the state budget has "consistently provided support for MLPA" and that "this funding is but a small part of the more than $34.2 million that has been allocated statewide for MLPA by a partnership of state agencies and foundations."

    This news will be disappointing to many fishermen but should be reassuring to environmental groups that favor a network of no-take areas to benefit beleaguered stocks of fish, and that have devoted thousands of hours, as stakeholders, to the painstaking process.

    -- Pete Thomas

    Photo: Reed Smolan unhooks a calico bass caught off the Palos Verdes Peninsula. A portion of ocean beyond the peninsula faces possible closure as part of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. Credit: Pete Thomas / Los Angeles Times

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009

    Fish and Game Commissioner Dan Richards disappointed in Ken Wiseman and Don Benninghoven

    June 2, 2009
    Fish and Game Commissioner Dan Richards is not happy with the latest developments in the South Coast project area in the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative and comments by Resources Agency officials about the next region, the area north of Point Arena to the Oregon border, due to begin meeting this fall.
    Although Ken Wiseman and initiative staff just today (June 2) have retracted the decision to forward external proposal C despite the fact it was voted out (see the memo attached to the bottom of this blog), the fact that he and Blue Ribbon Task Force Chair Don Benninghoven would consider such a move in the first place has shaken not only stakeholder confidence in the process, but Richards’ as well.
    Richards’ contacted this writer yesterday, just as we were sending the latest issue of WON to the printer, but his comments were both prescient and significant.“
    Although I don’t know if this decision will stand, I am so disappointed in Ken Wiseman and Don Benninghoven,” said Richards. “They’ve been standing up talking about what an open and transparent process this is and then they take an action like this. I never knew they had the power to unilaterally change the vote, who gave them that?
    “What’s the point of the vote, what’s the point of participating? I’m sure there are a lot of stakeholders asking that question,” he added. “Why don’t Ken and Don just send us (the Fish and Game Commission) something up and say this is what it should be, these people don’t know what’s right, but we do?”
    Some stakeholders would argue that’s exactly what has happened in the previous two projects — the Blue Ribbon Task Force deciding what is best instead of the stakeholders.
    And others would say the Fish and Game Commission, which is the only entity in California government with the power to close state waters, has just been a rubber stamp at the end of the process.
    Richards is one of the commissioners who bristle at that suggestion. He and Commission Jim Kellogg have been outspoken about making sure the state and the economy can bear the cost of the closures.
    He took particular exception to a recent comment made by Sandy Cooney, a spokesperson for California’s Resources agency, in the Eureka Times Standard. The story was about how the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District was considering asking for a delay in the process until good science is in place. Sound familiar? Here’s the part of the piece that got Richards steamed.
    California Resources Agency spokesman Sandy Cooney said that a delay “is not going to happen.”
    He said the act is law, and that the marine protected areas will be put in place on schedule. The state and its private partners have so far put up $60 million in the central and north central coast for science to back up the reserves, Cooney said, and there will be money available for the North Coast, too. Cooney chafed at the idea that communities have had reserves imposed on them.
    "No one is being steam-rolled at all,” Cooney said, “It is one of the most open and inclusive processes we have going.”
    “How does he know there’s not going to be a delay?” asked Richards. “Where does he come up with $60 million? And how does he know the marine protected areas will be put in place on schedule. Does he have a vote? Last I checked only the Fish and Game Commission can vote in a marine protected area. Does he have the names of three commissioners who will guarantee they will vote for the MPAs? And you certainly have to take exception to the statement the process is open after what just happened.”
    When contacted by WON, Cooney said the $60 million represented all the money spent on marine protected areas in California since the creation of the reserves at the Channel Islands, but was unable to provide precise figures. Otherwise, Cooney said he would stand by his words.
    I don’t know about you, but all of this has left me feeling flat.

    Tuesday, June 2, 2009

    MLPA process gets more than a little bit fishy, pro-fishing groups claim

    Pete Thomas
    Los Angeles Times
    June 2, 2009

    A reader shared an interesting observation this week regarding the controversial Marine Life Protection Act process, an ongoing saga that ultimately will set in place a coast-wide network of zones that will become off-limits to fishermen or carry severe restrictions.
    The process is already complete off Central California and is close to being complete off the North-Central Coast. Southern California is now the primary theater.
    The reader wondered how California, which is so broke that it plans to cut all core funding for 279 state parks, can afford to continue with a process of establishing underwater parks that will require steady and significant funding for enforcement of rules and to evaluate their effectiveness.

    Short answer: The state is receiving private funding for the process and will worry about future funding once the process is complete and no-take zones are in place. And what a crazy process it has become, especially if you're a fisherman or in the fishing industry and facing an uncertain future.

    At issue this week, as all parties prepare for another Blue Ribbon Task Force meeting Thursday morning near LAX, is external proposal "C." It's the most extreme proposal (pictured above and below; the red areas are no-take marine protected areas) and probably should have been scuttled by now.
    (It may soon be discarded, although most fishermen are not aware of that yet, and they're still seething over what transpired during the last meeting in Santa Ana.)

    Briefly put, members of the South Coast Regional Stakeholders Group were instructed to vote on four of five proposals to further narrow options. External C, which calls for 47 marine protected areas or about 33% of the Southern California coastline to be designated as marine protected areas, received the fewest votes.

    But the MPLA Initiative's Blue Ribbon Task Force chose to disregard the vote and place all proposals back on the table. It was perceived as a slap to the face of those who had been working within guidelines during a long, arduous process that still has months to play out. The United Anglers charged that if a pro-fishing proposal had received the fewest votes it would have remained shelved. It's not lost on anyone that a conservation organization, the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, is funding the process.

    However, criticism might have gotten to the MLPA Initiative staff. This morning, according to sources inside the process, the staff issued a memo to the Blue Ribbon Task Force, recommending that the vote should be considered and that the external C proposal should be removed from consideration.

    If that's true, it's good news for pro-fishing groups. But those groups and irate fishermen are likely to remain suspicious heading into Thursday's meeting. For those interested in attending, it'll be held at 9:30 a.m. at the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel, 6101 W. Century Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90045.

    **Special Important Announcement: Critical MLPA mobilization this Thursday June 4th, 2009

    Guys and gals,

    The MLPA Implementation Team has double-crossed fishermen and other consumptives with their blatant bias for the anti-fishing faction. Ed Zieralski, writer for San Diego Tribune called it “Betrayal at its worst in MLPA process.” Paul Leibowitz, writer for Western Outdoor News, called it “Trust Betrayed.”

    These actions gravely endanger the right to fish in Southern California. The next Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) meeting is this Thursday, June 4th, 2009, 9:30AM at the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel, 6101 West Century Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA. Fishermen and ocean sportsmen of all stripes are recognizing that unless there is a strong public response with the BRTF, the future of fishing in Southern California is doomed due to the fraudulent manner with which this process is being rammed down fishermen’s throats.

    Bloodydeckers are mobilizing along with other consumptive communities to respond. We need to let the BRTF know what we think about the voting shenanigan that allows the anti-fishing map External C to continue after it was voted out by the Regional Stake Holders. We need to go and press our concerns regarding the extreme maps again. Keep pushing for the moderate position to keep our fishing areas open. Keep pushing for minimum closures instead of the extreme and expansive closures proposed by the anti-fishing groups. You can also speak about how closing or keeping a specific area open to fishing will affect you, your family, and friends economically and/or recreationally.

    While it may seem tedious to go all the way to LA to attend this meeting, especially during a weekday, your attendance matters a great deal. For example, your attendance and speaking out on May 19th made a tremendous difference and is widely credited with helping to swing the tide in our favor. The fact that the anti-fishing crowd has to resort to voting shenanigans, in order for the extremist's External C map to stay alive, should tell you that your presence and testimony do have a tremendous effect.

    Keep in mind that these are the very last chances we have to address the BRTF in this MLPA process. They are the decision makers--the next one is in July and then it's into October. There is a meeting late October but the reality is this one and the July meeting are going to be it for addressing these important decision makers.

    Also, while you may feel righteously indignant, please keep in mind to be courteous but firm and professional. Don't blow your top; don't act unprofessional; don't use curse words. Remember that the BRTF is the decision makers in this process, and their decision will affect where you can or cannot fish next year.

    The public speaking session starts at 9:40AM but please be present by 9AM at the latest. Comment cards should be filled out and handed in before 9:00 AM as they may limit comments to only those cards received by that time.

    Hope to see you there Bloodydeckers!!! Click here for more info about the meeting location and time.

    Thursday, June 4, 2009 9:30 a.m.
    Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel
    6101 West Century Boulevard
    Los Angeles, CA 90045

    Monday, June 1, 2009

    Marine protection act falls short of its goals

    by Steve Scheiblauer
    Santa Cruz Sentinel

    Californians concerned about protecting our ocean should pay attention to the ongoing Marine Life Protection Act process that's supposed to improve ocean health, biodiversity, and marine ecosystems off the coast of California.

    So far, those goals aren't being met.

    That's because the implementation of the act has failed to address, much less resolve, longstanding, serious water quality problems, and has simply given the illusion of protection by opting for the low-hanging fruit of shutting down fishing. During the Central Coast portion of this ocean protection process, comprehensive and scientifically based recommendations on how to implement the mandated marine protected areas were effectively ignored.

    The way the act was implemented in Monterey illustrates important mistakes that, if recognized by the leadership and corrected, can make the upcoming efforts much more effective in preserving and protecting our ocean.

    We all know that people come to Monterey, and many other coastal communities, to eat fresh, locally caught seafood and to enjoy the uniqueness of our fishing culture, like Cannery Row. We have a deep heritage of commercial and recreational fishing, which supports Monterey's larger tourism industry.

    But the effort to carve out ocean areas for new fishing restrictions along the Central Coast has unfortunately rejected a comprehensive approach to achieve sustainability goals. The resulting negative impact on the fishing community has made it more costly and dangerous to catch fish. And it's hurt our broader economy at a time when we can least afford it.

    In 1995, there were more than 150 commercial fishing boats operating out of Monterey's harbor, but in the last few years, that number has decreased drastically. There are now only about 30 full-time boats and just 73 total. And that number is expected to drop even more.

    As Monterey's harbormaster, I've seen firsthand how local fishermen are dispirited -- and even put out of business -- because the implementation process didn't value their needs, their safety, or the food they provide to the public, much less their recommendations for how to achieve ocean protection as well as viable fishing communities.

    It's unfortunately amounted to a political process of taking away a large percentage of the prime fishing grounds from recreational and commercial fishermen based on the beliefs of a few marine protection advocates, rather than a need founded in peer-reviewed science or supported by broad-based public opinion.

    And the imbalance favoring expansive restrictions remains intact in the guidelines for determining the size and spacing of new marine protected areas.

    But that's certainly not what Californians want.

    When polled which is the better management strategy -- to set aside some areas and not let people fish in those areas even if it means that fishing is displaced, or to manage all of the ocean for sustainable use through science-based fishing quotas -- by a nearly 3-1 margin Californians select the option for sustainable use of the entire ocean.

    That's significant when compared with the way in which the Marine Life Protection Act has been implemented thus far.

    California deserves better than this.

    The Marine Life Protection Act must achieve a more balanced process, crafting fair, equitable solutions that preserve a balance: healthy oceans, sustainable seafood resources and economically strong coastal and harbor communities. Otherwise we will see a steady destruction of harbor communities, along with our ability to enjoy the ocean and put fresh local seafood on the table.

    Steve Scheiblauer is Monterey's harbormaster and has been directly involved each of the state's attempts to implement the Marine Life Protection Act.

    Betrayal at its worst in MLPA process

    By Ed Zieralski
    May 29, 2009

    Fishing interests involved in the Marine Life Protection Act process and those following it closely were outraged this week by a decision made by those running the show.

    And they all had every right to be outraged and feel betrayed.

    As the Marine Life Protection Act, which already has closed key fishing areas along the Central Coast, moves into its next phase here in the South Coast, here's where the process is:

    It started on the Central Coast, and that's done, with 85 square miles of the total Central Coast closed, including 40 percent of the best sportfishing areas. Actually, this process of closing waters to fishing began with the Channel Islands in 2002 when 175 square miles of state waters around the Channel Islands were closed. It resulted in an estimated $100 million annual loss to the local economy there. The North Central Coast closures still must be voted on by the Fish and Game Commission. That's expected to happen in August. While the least intrusive and least costly (in terms of economic hardship to fishermen and the community) set of closures in the 2XA proposal make the most sense, the Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF), and likely a majority of the Fish and Game Commission, are backing the Task Force's IPA, or "integrated preferred alternative." It's no surprise to anyone that the preservationist-environmentalist community is all-in on that proposal. There's not a huge difference in the two, but it's significant to the fishermen who will be impacted by it. The 2XA proposal calls for 137.1 square miles of marine protected areas, or 18 percent. The Integrated Preferred Alternative calls for 20.1 percent, or 153.4 square miles.

    The South Coast part of the MLPA process, the one that covers PointConception to the Mexican Border, is heating up thanks to a crawfish move by the Marine Protection Act Initiative team earlier this week.

    I'm calling it a crawfish move because how else to describe the Initiative staff, or I-Team, as it's called, backsliding on its decision to allow the least popular, most polarizing proposal for marine protected areas to proceed to the next round after it was voted off the island?

    Without getting too technical, the South Coast Regional Stakeholders Group (SCRSG) was instructed that the list of proposals for marine protected areas had to be "winnowed" in order to get to six.

    As we all know, winnow means to separate the chaff from the grain, get rid of or eliminate errors in logic, separate the good from the bad, sift, select the more desirable, all that.

    Only six proposals would go forward, the stakeholders were told. Two proposals were formed by a convergence of opposing sides in two of the subgroups (Opal and Topaz) from the main stakeholder group.

    So, with those two proposals already set to move forward for scientific analysis and Blue Ribbon Task Force evaluation, the stakeholders were asked to choose four from the five proposals … two proposed by the third subgroup of the stakeholder group and three external proposals from outside interests.

    This is where it all turns ugly.

    Two of the three external proposals came from fishing groups. External A came from the Fishermen's Information Committee-Fisherman's Information Network (FIC-FIN).
    External B was put forth by a fishing organization. External C was proposed by the Santa Barbara Channelkeepers and Santa Monica Baykeepers.

    These are estimated figures, but clearly the External C Proposal is the most radical of all the proposals. It riled many of the stakeholders when it was introduced in Long Beach. It has polarized the group ever since.

    External C calls for 47 marine protected areas, or 33 percent of the Southern California coastline put in marine protected areas.

    External A, the one proposed by FIC-FIN, calls for 40 marine protected areas or just just under 12 percent in marine protected areas.

    A straw vote tally was taken.

    All 64 South Coast Regional Stakeholder Group members participated in the voting. Opal and Topaz (the two subgroups of the stakeholder group) reached a unified proposal and will automatically move forward for evaluation.

    Lapis 1 proposal (representing the preservationists in this subgroup) got 63 votes. Lapis 2 proposal (from the fishing interests in this subgroup) got 61 votes. External A, proposed by the Fishermen's Information Network, was the only proposal to earn a unanimous vote of 64 in favor of advancing. That's 100 percent of the group voting for this proposal.

    It couldn't have gone any better for fishing interests.

    External B only earned 39 votes.

    And last, and certainly least, External C was the worst of the batch, as voted by the stakeholders, earning just 29 votes.

    It couldn't have gone any worse for the preservationist-environmental groups. Per the Ć winnowing‰ process ordered by the I-Team, Proposal C, this chaff, was supposed to be separated from the grain. Thrown out. Culled. Filletted.

    Instead, by a judgment still unexplained, it lives and now must be analyzed and evaluated like the hard-fought compromised proposals hammered out by the stakeholders.

    Ken Wiseman, the executive director for the I-Team, sent the stakeholders a mea culpa explaining why seven proposals will go forward instead of six. He has not returned an email request from the San Diego Union-Tribune to explain why. But the Union-Tribune obtained a copy of his email to the stakeholders. "We have decided that all seven proposals will move forward for analysis and review as part of the Round 2 evaluation process," Wiseman said in his email to all the stakeholders. "This decision was made in the interest of maintaining the maximum confidence in an open and inclusive process, maximizing the amount of information available from the various evaluations, and acknowledging that with the significant stratification of the votes, acting on the vote would have led to the elimination of two draft proposals.

    "Moving forward with all seven draft proposals is contrary to what staff indicated would be the result of the vote," Wiseman added. "However, an important goal of the MLPA Initiative is to ensure that all voices in the process are heard and given consideration; doing so both respects the intent of the MLPA and works toward the best cross-interest solution for all Californians. We believe moving all seven draft proposals forward for analysis will help achieve this goal."

    Those involved in the process and those watching it closely are riled up about this, and they should be.

    "External C is the most radical and least considerate of all the proposals," said Louie Zimm, a member of the Fishermen's Information Network. "The vote was very clear, unanimous. But it's also clear that Ken Wiseman is beholding to the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation that is funding this process. It's clear he felt his very livelihood is threatened by this. It's clear they have to keep in consideration this extremist proposal for marine protected areas to please those funding the process."

    Zimm also fired off an email to Wiseman and Don Benninghoven, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Task Force, expressing that he was gratified that External Proposal A, which he helped fashion, was a unanimous choice of the stakeholder group, but how disappointed he was in the I-Team's decision to include External Proposal C in the process after it received the least amount of votes.

    "External Proposal C received only 29 votes, less than half of the RSG votes," Zimm told Benninghoven and Wiseman. "This proposal appears to be a somewhat one-sided and myopic proposal. From the onset, with its original iteration, Proposal C has been unrealistic and callous. The authors have not attempted to reach out to opposing interests for compromise.

    "I was a steady observer of the Topaz gem group," Zimm continued. "That proposal was the product of heart-felt soul-searching and wrenching compromise. Now that proposal will be put on an equal footing with the unsupported and uncompromising External C proposal. This must certainly be a terrible disappointment to the hard-working members of both Opal and Topaz gem groups who took the I-team's and the BRTF's direction to heart to find compromise. I am deeply concerned that this decision will harden hearts and promote division in the SCRSG.

    "As you may know, I have stuck to my post and to my commitment to the MLPA process through considerable distraction as my mother lay on her death bed. I did this, believing that she would have wanted me to do so, as she was a dedicated biologist that loved our California Coast. Now I am faced with the regret that all of my and my colleagues work was in vain, due to this last minute decision that threw out, on an apparent whim, the I-Team and the BRTF's former direction.

    "I hope that you and the BRTF will answer my concerns and inform me why I should continue my efforts on behalf of the Marine Life Protection Act.

    "With respect, I submit this as a request to explain what appears to be a breach in good faith by the 'powers that be' and to request why I should continue to expect fair and equal treatment by the Blue Ribbon Task Force and the I-Team.

    "Respectfully yours, Captain Louie Zimm, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (retired)."
    Zimm is not alone on this. Members of the regional stakeholders group I contacted question Wiseman's leadership and say they will never trust him again on any matters.

    The entire MLPA process could be investigated by the state Senate if Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter) has his way, and we're still waiting for that to get started. At least two Fish and Game Commissioners, Dan Richards and Jim Kellogg, want Gov. Schwarzenegger to halt this process until the state gets well financially. Considering the fact the Governor is about to close state parks, sell places like the Del Mar Fairgrounds, cut state employee pay even more, shutting down this star-crossed process seems like it would be an easy decision. But that's how entrenched the preservationist-environmentalists are in our state government.

    In the meantime, the Fair Political Practices Board continues its official investigation into charges of conflict of interest against Michael Sutton of the Fish and Game Commission.

    Roman Porter, the executive director of the Fair Political Practices Commission, confirmed this week that the investigation of Sutton's ties continues. Sutton was sent a letter from the FPPC on May 19 informing him that he is being investigated for allegations that his ties to the Packard Foundation, which funds the MLPA process and the Monterey Aquarium where he's an officer, have influenced his votes on the Fish and Game Commission regarding marine protected areas.
    Porter said there is no time limit on the investigation and he could not speculate how long the investigation will take.

    Will fishing groups seek a court injunction against Sutton to prevent him from voting on the MLPA process until the FPPC investigation is complete? And if Sutton is found to have conflicts of interest and is fined, will his previous votes as a commissioner regarding the MLPA process and marine protected areas be ruled invalid and rolled back? What a mess that could turn out to be. I'm told lawyers for fishing groups are standing by on this.

    Considering this latest crawfish move by Wiseman and the I-Team, the entire bunch needs to answer why it, as one stakeholder told me, moved the goal posts on the stakeholders after they thought they kicked a winning field goal and booted out the worst proposal of all, External Proposal C, from the MLPA process.

    Those are the words stakeholders are using today about Wiseman and his I-team. They moved the goal posts. They're playing dirty pool. They changed the rules. They are not to be trusted.

    Nice process. Nice I-Team leadership.