The state and its program to rope off or curtail the use of wide stretches of coastal waters is finding itself in increasingly rough seas as it moves north.

Those who fear the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative has overstepped its bounds to the hazard of fishermen and other gatherers have, as the program has moved from region to region, been called “a vocal minority.” The state secretary of resources, Mike Chrisman, has called them, “Those few who seem opposed.”

But as the process moves to the North Coast, the initiative is facing a coalition of county and city governments, special districts and tribal interests who have strongly supported a delay in the program. They are worried that, even though the region sees only a tiny fraction of the fishing and other extractive activities that occur in points south, Marine Protected Areas could be set up not so unlike those in the rest of the state.

Others have a hard time believing any amount of opposition will stop the process, and worry that groups and individuals who boycott the effort would simply be shooting themselves in the foot.

Initiative Program Manager Melissa Miller-Henson said that the concerns voiced on the North Coast are valid, but added that the planning process she directs carries no regulatory authority -- that's held by the California Fish and Game Commission and the state Department of Fish and Game. She also said that the act isn't intended to be a fisheries management tool, but rather a means of protecting whole ecosystems from human impacts.