Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Senator Patricia Wiggins Letter to Fish & Game Commission

15 July 2009

Ms. Cindy Gustafson, President

California Fish and Game Commission

P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

fax: (916) 653-5040

Dear President Gustafson,

As the Fish and Game Commission moves towards adoption of Marine Protected Areas on the North Central Coast, I would like to provide input both as the Senator representing Humboldt, Mendocino and northern Sonoma Counties, and as the Chair of the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture. I have received significant input on this issue, with over 700 letters supporting the Integrated Preferred Alternative, and extensive comment from the fishing and coastal community opposed to the plan..

First, it is important that no family lose their livelihood from the implementation of North Central MPAs. Unlike many more populous areas of the state, the North Central Coast economy is tied to fishing and ocean harvesting. While ocean protection is of paramount importance, it is not demonstrated that de minimus collection of fish, marine invertebrates or sea vegetation will result in adverse affects as significant as those faced by families who depend on that subsistence. Neither the marine resources for subsistence nor their ecosystems have been declared endangered or threatened. I would suggest that the Commission consider a de minimus or ‘subsistence’ level permit for residents of coastal communities to harvest, within season and within very tight limits, historically collected ocean resources.

Second, there continues to be controversy in a significant reduction of fishing grounds outside an historic fishing port, Point Arena. Residents of the port town, fishermen in particular, feel that its relative remoteness and dependence on local fishing has made it unusually vulnerable to the placement of MPAs. It essential that the Plan carefully take into account fishing areas located near active, historic ports.

Finally, there is real concern in the community and statewide that new regulations and the research attending their implementation will rapidly become an unfunded mandate. At this time, there are funds available from private partnerships to start building a baseline of information. In the future, there may be insufficient funds to re-monitor, compare management strategies and formulate effective improvements to the proposed regulations. I would ask that the Commission confirms that likely expenditures will be covered by a combination of anticipated general fund revenues, license revenues and private trust income, and that it present those anticipated costs and revenues to the Legislature, specifically this Committee.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed plan. You may reach my consultant, Dr. Fred Euphrat, directly at 707.433.5544 for clarification or comment.



Senator Patricia Wiggins

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