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.

1 comment:

  1. Not only is the science lacking for the North Coast region, it has not been available for any region. No MPA has a scientifically measurable goal, so no accountability will be possible even if there was money to monitor and manage, which there isn't. Any increase in sizes or population will be claimed to be the result of MPAs and any negative economic impact on fishing will be claimed to be temporary.

    How will the restrictions ever be lifted? That's for another Administration to worry about, this one will be gone in 18 months. And the Governor will have his map of MPAs.