Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Bob Bertelli and Other Fishermen Protest the Governor's Failed Environmental Policies in Front of Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel
Fishermen Protest the Governor's Failed Environmental Policies in Front of Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel
Paul Romanowski and Kelsey Albert Express Their Opinion
Local environmentalists, fishermen, seaweed harvesters, Native Americans and other supporters of environmental justice showed in force at the "Take A Stand Concert and Seafood Tasting" against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's corrupt Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process in Albion, on September 22. Over 500 people attended, enjoyed great music, and won lots of raffle prizes.
Photo of Archie Richardson giving electric guitar to Rick Parrish, a member of the Kashia Tribe and the Black Horse Blues Band who performed at the benefit. Courtesy of Jim Martin.
by Dan Bacher
Local environmentalists, fishermen, seaweed harvesters, Native Americans and other supporters of environmental justice showed in force at the "Take A Stand Concert and Seafood Tasting" against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's corrupt Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process in Albion, Mendocino County, on September 22. Over 500 people attended, enjoyed great music, and won lots of raffle prizes.
"A lot of people had their eyes opened about the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative," said Jim Martin, West Coast Regional Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance. "We raised close to $10,000 for the California Fisheries Coalition."
Mike Carpenter, a sea urchin diver and organizer of the event, made the vital connection between the MLPA process and the campaign to build a peripheral canal, both of which are funded by the Resource Legacy Fund Foundation. Carpenter emphasized that the MLPA is just a "coverup" for the Governor's plans to build a peripheral canal around the California Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, through the Delta Vision and Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) process.
"The event was magical," said Carpenter. "Something that should have fallen apart grew stronger. There were so many random acts of kindness throughout the event, especially the one by Archie Richardson, one of the owners of the Richardson Ranch on the Sonoma Coast."
Martin said the highlight of the event was when Richardson won a Fender electric guitar donated by Faultline Music in Paso Robles.
"Arch graciously donated the guitar back for an impromptu live auction," said Martin. "During the auction, Arch bid up his own guitar to $550 and then he gave it to a young member of the Black Horse Blues Band, Rick Parrish of the Kashia Tribe of Pomo Indians from Stewarts Point. The crowd went nuts."
The purpose of the fundraiser was to united diverse North Coast communities against Schwarzenegger's MLPA initiative, a process rife with corruption, conflict of interest, mission creep and environmental racism. The California Fish and Game Commission in August voted to ban the Kashia Tribe from harvesting abalone, seaweed and mussels as they have done for hundreds of years off Stewarts Point in northern Sonoma County. The vote, tainted by the Governor's appointment of Schwarzenegger "yes man" Don Benninghoven to the Commission just a couple of days before the vote, also closed large areas off Stewarts Point and Point Arena in Mendocino County to sustainable seaweed harvesting, fishing and abalone diving.
For more information about the battle against the corrupt MLPA process, contact: Jim Martin (707) 964-8326, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Mike Carpenter (707) 937-4362, email@example.com.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Why? Because He’s Ignoring Ocean Pollution
Tomorrow, Wed. Sept. 30, 2009, 10 a.m. – noon
In Front of Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel,
Ironically, Governor Schwarzenegger is trying to build his legacy as a green governor while he simultaneously ignores all the ocean pollution plaguing
That’s why Fishermen from all over
The Marine Life Protection Act currently being implemented in
WHAT: Protest of Gov. Schwarzenegger's “green” ocean policy AKA the Marine Life Protection Act
WHEN: Tomorrow, Sept. 30, 10 a.m. – noon
WHERE: Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel
2025 Avenue of the Stars
Protest in front of the hotel
VISUALS: Dozens of angry fishermen, holding signs, megaphones proclaiming that the Governor should not target fishermen and their families, but instead pollution.
CONTACT: On-site at 9 am: Wendy Tochihara mobile (714) 609-5544
The California Fisheries Coalition is an association of 27 marine-related organizations whose members advocate for cleaner oceans and sustainable marine resources, and contribute more than $5.5 billion annually to the economy www.cafisheriescoalition.org.
# # #
Monday, September 28, 2009
Watch the news report on KSBY-TV 6 NBC San Luis Obispo here.
Online story follows below:
Reported by: Stacy Daniel
A local fisherman gives new meaning to the phrase "catch and release."
There are countless creatures in the sea and thanks to commercial fisherman, Tom Hafer, crossing paths with one of them, there's a lucky turtle swimming around out there tight now.
Hafer says, "I couldn't really make out what it was so, we went a little closer. We found out it was a stuck turtle, a Leatherback."
The Leatherback turtle is the largest living turtle in the world.
Adults weigh between 700 and 2-thousand pounds and measure between 4 to 8 feet in length.
Hafer says, "He was a rather big turtle. He was probably an easy 1,000 lbs. His shell was probably 5 or 6 feet long, if not longer. His head was bigger than a 5 gallon bucket."
Hafer says as he approached the enormous sea creature he could tell the big guy was desperate and needed help.
Hafer explains, "He was just so stuck. His arms and his legs were just wrapped and wrapped around the thick kelp."
Hafer said the turtles skin was sun bleached and it's eyes weary and sunken into it's skull.
"The font of his fins and under his neck was all white from bobbing in the kelp for so long. He must have been there a couple of weeks." says Hafer.
He didn't want to touch the trapped turtle because he knows as a federally protected creature it's against the law. So, instead he cut away some of the kelp and returned to shore hoping the turtle would somehow be able to free himself overnight.
No such luck, the turtle was just too caught in the kelp to breakaway.
Not wanting the beautiful creature to die a slow, agonizing death Hafer knew he had to do something.
Hafer says, "I figured that the only way we're going to be able to save this turtle is if we wrap a rope around him and drag him out of the kelp so, that's what we did."
Using a yellow rope and a stick Hafer managed to lasso one of the turtles front legs and pull it, by boat, to safety.
Hafer says, "We got him out to deeper clearer water and we took the rope off and he shot away."
But not before letting Hafer know how much he appreciated his good deed.
Hafer says, "He cracked me a little smile before he took off."
September 25, 2009
You can spend your time crafting alternatives in the stakeholder meetings. You can comment at the science committee meetings. You can talk for one minute to the Blue Ribbon Task force. Then that task force will cut up all of your carefully crafted alternatives, and forward any closures it wants to the Fish and Game Commission, which will rubber-stamp it into law. Here are a couple of examples of how this process has worked.
In the North Central Area, all of the fishermen, local businesses, environmental groups and elected officials supported a fishermen’s alternative. This alternative was produced with outside funding controlled by the fishing community, and had local support as a good balance between harm and protection. It was painfully crafted to meet all science team requirements.
Even with this level of support and compliance, the Blue Ribbon Task Force would not adopt it. It had to be submitted to the commission as an outside alternative.
In the weeks leading up to that commission meeting, the commissioners were on the verge of stopping the whole MPA process. It was a 3-2 vote for a pause. Suddenly, a commissioner (who supported the stoppage) claimed she had a conflict with her employer and had to remove herself from her chair.
It should be no surprise that the previous task force chair voted for his alternative: closing half of the accessible abalone diving areas; closing the native sea frond harvesting area, and fishing reefs north and south of point Area.
The southern area, which is in the middle of this process, has seen proposed closed areas that were rejected by the stakeholder group reappear in task force deliberations, clearly ignoring the process agreed upon by the stakeholder team.
Now, I do not say this lightly. Our fishing community has seen many closures, and made many sacrifices for better management, but these outsiders will do anything to insure the closure of important fishing areas. This process is not about careful management of our ocean, it is an unnecessary and even vindictive process to kill local fishing communities.
This leads me, as a long time representative of our local fishing community, to decide that working with these people will not insure a balance between protection and community needs. So I ask our fishing community to stand up with me against this process. You cannot expect your representatives to be successful working within the system. We need you to become involved.
Rally with me on Sunday at the harbor under the big American flag. This rally will be to plan and outline our strategy for attending the first MPA meeting Tuesday.
This is it. After all of the talking and planning, it is time for you to get involved. We need everyone to attend Sunday and Tuesday. If you do not show, then you are conceding your access to our renewable ocean resource. I cannot roll this train over by myself. Signing petitions only goes so far. We must act as a community.
Come out on Sunday at 4 p.m. Together, we can make a difference.
Kenyon Hensel is a local fisherman who has been closely involved with California’s MPA process.
The Marine Life Protection Act has produced two schools of thought when it comes to combating the environmentalists' efforts to close areas like Rocky Point.
One point of view is to compromise and give some concessions, recognizing that there are some good people on the environmental side.
The other school of thought seeks to demonize the environmental movement as an evil entity and fight to the death. No giving in on any issue. These fishermen believe that it is their right as a U.S. citizen to have access to the ocean and refuse to give in on anything.
Further, they point out that the main culprit in depleting marine life is pollution and urban runoff among myriad other factors.
The environmental movement is better funded and better organized than the fishermen. In addition, many on that side of the coin seek to demonize anglers as people whose only interest is to destroy the precious marine life along our coast.
Still, there are some on the environmental side who are deeply concerned about caring for this precious gift we call the Pacific Ocean.
Tom Raftican, the former president of the United Anglers of Southern California said politics is the art of compromise.
Bob Osborn of United Anglers developed a plan he thought would satisfy anglers and environmentalists alike. The plan involved slot limits, releasing fish when they are a certain size, more catch and release, closing some areas for periods of time, but allowing recreational fishing in general.
Raftican, for his part, introduced the CAST Tournament, which was all catch and release. He tried to put cameras on the sportboats and send anglers home with a photo instead of a dead fish and make conservation a part of every angler's ethos.
According to Raftican, he left United Anglers of Southern California because he thought his view would tear his board of directors apart.
Many on the board had the attitude that this was a take-no-prisoners mission. This seems to be the prevailing view and strategy of most anglers now, and only time will tell how this plays out.
There are many who fear that the strategy of no compromise gives the opposition no where to go. The only option when there is no give and take would be a complete shut down of Rocky Point as well as other areas.
MLPA would shut down some fishing
September 25, 2009
The long-awaited final maps of fishing closures proposed for San Diego's coastline under the Marine Life Protection Act now can be viewed on the state Department of Fish and Game Web site.
The three proposals submitted by the three South Coast Regional Stakeholder groups have been posted at dfg.ca.gov/mlpa . The MLPA's Blue Ribbon Task Force will review the three plans and submit final proposals to the state Fish and Game Commission, which is expected to vote on the closures in December.
Anglers have one more chance to be heard on the subject.
On Oct. 21, the MLPA's Blue Ribbon Task Force will hear public comments in two sessions, at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., at the Hilton Long Beach & Executive Meeting Center, 701 West Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90831.
Comments on the MLPA are accepted via e-mail at MLPAComments@resources.ca.gov.; via mail at Marine Life Protection Act Initiative, c/o California Natural Resources Agency, 1416 Ninth Street, Suite 1311, Sacramento, CA 95814; or via fax at (916) 653-8102. To be presented at the Oct. 21 meeting, comments received via e-mail, mail or fax must arrive by Oct. 11.
•Kids day: Tomorrow is National Hunting and Fishing Day, which means a free day of fishing, lunch and lots of prizes for kids at Lake Cuyamaca. Fishing starts at 6 a.m., and registration begins at 8 a.m. Fish must be weighed in by 11:30 to be eligible for prizes. There will be a raffle for kids and adults.
•Ocean fishing: Captain Bryan Zulka on El Gato Dos reports good fishing for big albacore up to 35 pounds at 38 miles west of Mission Bay for three-quarter-day trips. Rough seas early in the week made for tough fishing, but Tuesday his group managed a triple jig strike on the bigger albacore plus two on bait. They also caught five yellowfin that were traveling with porpoise. Bob Fletcher fished with fellow San Diego Rotary Club members on captain Shawn Trowbridge's Legend that same day as part of a 1½-day trip. They caught 21 albacore, 44 yellowfin tuna, 46 dorado and 15 yellowtail. “Great fall fishing,” Fletcher said.
•FLW: He's not fishing for $1 million like he did at the FLW Championship in Pittsburgh in August, but Alpine's Rusty Salewske is picking up where he left off on the Allegheny River. Fishing at the California Delta, Salewske jumped from eighth to first yesterday during the second day of the Walmart FLW Series National Guard Western Division. Top prize is $125,000 for pros, $25,000 for co-anglers. Salewske's fishing buddy, Jon Strelic of El Cajon, earned the day's $293 Folgers Big Bass award in the pro division thanks to an 8-pound, 8-ounce bass he caught on a green-pumpkin Sweet Beaver. Robert Faaborg of Ramona is third in the co-angler division.
La Jolla fishing area likely to be affected
September 26, 2009
Kenny Jeavons (left) and Peter Halmay arrived back in San Diego Bay after a day of harvesting sea urchins. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / Union-Tribune)
Online: For more details about the proposed marine protected areas, go to dfg.ca.gov/mlpa
Space set aside for protecting sea life on the Southern California coast would more than double under a trio of proposals for marine sanctuaries released to the public this week.
The three strategies would provide from 380 to 413 square miles of near-shore waters as safety zones for species — more than twice the current amount of 182 squares miles. Managers of the state-sponsored project posted maps, comments and related documents on the state Department of Fish and Game's Web site late Thursday.
“One proposal is minimal, one is maximum, and somewhere in the middle is the other one,” said Peter Halmay, an urchin fisherman based in Point Loma. “Now the (interest groups) are going to start tugging and pulling.”
The strategies differ dramatically in the specific areas where they would reduce or eliminate harvest, a point that will be central as the selection process winds toward conclusion next year.
Major local battlegrounds include the La Jolla coast, a rich fishing area that conservationists want to partly close. There also are major discrepancies in suggested rules for North County lagoons, the areas off Del Mar and Encinitas, the mouth of the Tijuana River and the Ocean Beach coast.
The blueprints are part of the Marine Life Protection Act, a 1999 state law to bolster marine conservation along California's 1,100-mile coastline.
It calls for redesigning offshore protected zones to rebuild stocks of fish and other sea life. It's been contentious from the start because various groups have stakes in virtually every square foot of Southern California's coastal waters.
The latest documents don't include a detailed economic analysis of potential effects on commercial and recreational fishermen. That is supposed to be completed by Oct. 6, when a group of scientific experts meets in Los Angeles to assess the three proposals.
Science team members will push the strategies to a statewide task force charged with helping select the best option. That panel gathers in Long Beach on Oct. 20-22 and will take public comments.
The preferred options will go to the California Fish and Game Commission, which is expected to adopt a final version next year.
The proposals are the result of roughly a year of research and negotiations by a “stakeholder group” that includes commercial fishermen, ecologists, government officials, recreational fishermen and others. In the latest round of map-making, they divided into three groups — one that tilted toward fishermen, one that favored conservationists and a third dubbed the “middle ground.”
The subcommittees outlined 40 to 52 marine protected areas, which include “no-take” reserves and areas that allow some forms of harvest.
There are currently 42 reserves that cover about 7.7 percent of the near-shore waters of Southern California.
In general, fishing groups support the fewest limits and conservationists want more restrictions.
“Marine protected areas act like ecological savings accounts,” said Kate Hanley, who represents San Diego Coastkeeper on the stakeholder group. “By investing in these accounts — if we put them in the right place and protect the right species — we are more likely to generate interest and provide for a sustainable future.”
Hanley said that from the start, her goal was to create the maximum ecological benefit at the lowest socioeconomic cost. “I am very proud to have been part of this process because I do think it's a legacy,” Hanley said.
Chuck Grosse, a recreational angler in Carlsbad, likes the map with the least restrictions because it gives “fishermen from Point Loma and Mission Bay basically direct access to their standard fishing grounds.”
He remains skeptical about the whole enterprise.
“It's misguided,” he said. “The money being spent on this process would be better spent solving other problems that affect fisheries, like (poor) water quality.”
Friday, September 25, 2009
By Dan Bacher / IndyBay
September 24, 2009
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today engaged in another cynical photo opportunity celebrating his "leadership role" in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to promote the false notion that he is the "Green Governor" as he continues to wage a relentless war on Central Valley salmon and Delta smelt populations.
Schwarzenegger commemorated the third anniversary of the signing of AB 32, a bill that he touted as "the world’s first comprehensive law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," in a carefully choreographed appearance at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.
“Every year it becomes more apparent that no single issue threatens the health and prosperity of our world, or provides a greater opportunity for economic success than climate change – and that is why California has stepped up to take the lead," Schwarzenegger gushed. "Three years ago I signed the world’s most comprehensive global warming law and since then our emissions have been reduced, our green economy has grown and our policies have influenced the world."
AB 32 mandates a reduction of California’s greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and calls for an 80 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2050.
"But that was only the first step," he claimed. "Global warming is a global problem that requires a global solution and I am committed to working toward that solution so our children and grandchildren are left with a clean environment and a strong economy.”
Schwarzenegger's speech today is a prelude to more "green" posturing by the "Fish Terminator" next week. Schwarzenegger will be supposedly "furthering California’s leadership and the fight against global warming" next week from September 30 to October 2 at the Global Climate Summit 2" at the Hyatt Regency Century in Los Angeles
"Leaders from around that world will come together and collaborate on efforts to further the global fight against climate change and to help build momentum to climate talks in Copenhagen this December," explained a release from the Governor's office.
I'm sure that the corporate media and some "Big Green" groups will be falling over themselves to applaud the Governor's "leadership" role in promoting "green energy" scams. However, for those of thus who have actually examined the Governor's environmental record towards fish and water, it is an unprecedented disaster. Schwarzenegger praises himself for working for a solution that will lead to a "clean environment and a strong economy" for future generations, but the "clean" environment that he envisions is apparently devoid of fish and fishermen.
Schwarzenegger has presided over the collapse of Central Valley chinook salmon, green sturgeon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, Sacramento splittail, striped bass, and other fish populations, caused by record water exports from the California Delta and declining water quality in recent years. Rather than try to reverse the collapse of these imperiled fish populations, Schwarzenegger has gone out of his way to fight court ordered federal plans to protect smelt, salmon, sturgeon and the southern resident population of killer whales (orcas) and to promote a peripheral canal and more dams at the service of corporate agribusiness on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.
Governor Schwarzenegger last Thursday appeared on a FOX TV "News" show by neoconservative talk show host Sean Hannity that falsely portrayed the battle to restore Central Valley salmon and the Delta as an issue of "fish versus jobs." Like Hannity and Congressman Devin Nunes, Schwarzenegger blamed structural unemployment in the Valley on the federal biological opinion protecting Delta smelt and chinook salmon - and failed to acknowledge that the collapse of Central Valley salmon alone has led to the loss of 23,000 recreational and commercial fishing jobs in California and Oregon in 2008 and 2009.
"We have a terrible crisis on our hands," said Schwarzenegger. "And this is a crisis, not because of some disaster. It's a crisis self-inflicted. This is something that the federal government is doing to us. We have done, like you said, everything in the book to convince them otherwise and to turn on the water. So, we are being handicapped here by federal judges, and this is the terrible thing about it."
Schwarzenegger shamelessly used his interview as an opportunity to campaign for new water "infrastructure" - a peripheral canal and more dams that fishing and most environmental groups are opposing. "In the meantime, I think it's also important for you to note that we're moving ahead here in Sacramento, because we have been negotiating for years to create a water infrastructure, to bring our water infrastructure up to date, because we have now 38 million people in California," said Schwarzenegger. "And the last infrastructure that you see now that was done was done when we had around 18 million people."
Schwarzenegger's attack on the federal biological opinions and his campaign to build a peripheral canal and dams are just two in series of measures that Schwarzenegger has launched to seal the doom of California's fish populations and the environment. His many attacks on fish, the environment, and working fishermen and fisherwomen include the following:
• His administration did nothing to prevent or alleviate the largest fish kill in the history of the California Delta in November 2007. Tens of thousands of striped bass, Sacramento blackfish, Sacramento splittail, largemouth bass and other species perished when the Bureau of Reclamation repaired a levee in the North Delta at Prospect Island and the fish were left stranded in drying pools of water. When a group of volunteer sportsmen organized a large crew to rescue some of remaining fish, the Schwarzenegger administration did everything they could to discourage the highly successful fish rescue - and it was only because of the hard work of Jeff McCracken of the Bureau of Reclamation that the rescue was able to take place.
• His appointees on the Central Valley Water Control Board have consistently voted against holding agricultural polluters to the same standards that industry and municipalities are required to observe, resulting in declining water quality in the Delta.
• He has made the DFG into an agency joined at the hip with the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the agency responsible for much of the destruction of Delta and Central Valley fisheries.
• His abysmal leadership resulted in the state opting to appeal a decision by Alameda County Court Judge Frank Roesch requiring the DFG to get an incidental take permit from DWR for killing Delta smelt, winter run chinook and spring run chinook in the Delta pumps.
• While doing everything he can to serve corporate agribusiness in the destruction of Central Valley and Delta fisheries, Schwarzenegger has fast-tracked the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. This racist, elitist and corrupt process will remove Pomo Tribe members from their traditional seaweed, abalone and mussel harvesting areas in Sonoma and Mendocino County, as well as deny sustainable recreational and commercial fishermen and seaweed harvesters their right to access their traditional harvesting areas. This process is being falsely promoted as "marine protection" when it does nothing to stop threats posed to marine ecosystems by pollution, oil spills and plans to build offshore oil rigs and wave energy projects off the northern California coast.
• His administration has done nothing to stop this summer's de-watering of the Shasta and Scott rivers, tributaries of the Klamath River, by irrigators, putting imperiled runs of coho salmon, chinook salmon at tremendous risk.
This afternoon, the Klamath Riverkeeper reported that high numbers of fall Chinook salmon returning to the Shasta River are coming home to record low flows and extremely hot weather this week, creating "ideal conditions for a large-scale fish kill in the Shasta River." Biologists and water managers with state and federal agencies are monitoring the situation closely as irrigators continue to maximize water withdrawals through the late September heat wave.
“We need to get more water in the river immediately,” said Erica Terence of Klamath Riverkeeper. “Unfortunately, the fish are moving much quicker than the resource managers on the Scott and Shasta Rivers this year.”
As I have asked before, when will corporate environmentalists and the mainstream media stop praising the governor for his "environmental leadership" and develop the courage to challenge Schwarzenegger's scorched earth policies in his war on California's fisheries?
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
September 16, 2009
California State Parks officials — who had planned to tell the public this week which state parks were going to be closed this year due to budget cuts — admitted Tuesday (Sept. 15) that the job of determining which parks to shutter is more complicated than they thought it would be.
As a result, they indefinitely delayed naming the 100 parks to be closed. They also said they did not know when the closures will occur, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“We are involved in a process we didn’t understand was as complicated as it is,” said Roy Stearns, spokesman for the park system.
One big problem, officials said, is that they don’t know exactly how they’re going to keep the public out of closed state parks and beaches. Officials fear a free-for-all among squatters and ruffians for dibs on thousands of acres of unpatrolled parkland.
Hard to fence in
“That’s the difficulty and also the worry as we try to come up with a list of closures,” said Stearns. “It’s pretty impossible to close (many of the beaches and parks) or put a fence around them. People are probably going to go there. We hope they are careful and don’t put themselves at risk.”
Stearns said local sheriff’s deputies will primarily be responsible for patrolling the closed parks, but many state beaches and remote wildland areas will be impossible to supervise adequately.
“We hope there is a kind of statewide neighborhood watch where people make a call if there is something that shouldn’t be there,” Stearns said. “Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of our visitors are very watchful of these places and are as disappointed as we are that they are closing. I would suspect people will be eager to be watchful and report unscrupulous activities.”
2010 ballot measure
Stearns said the final list, when it is released, will be a working document that may change if funding changes or if there are new ideas to keep parks open.
One idea is to put a $15 vehicle license fee on the ballot in November 2010. The initiative, being considered by a coalition of environmental groups, would raise about $400 million a year and eliminate entrance fees for motorists at all state parks.
The California Conservation Action Fund, which lists the California State Parks Foundation, the Nature Conservancy and the National Audubon Society as contributors, will decide this fall whether to spend some of the nearly $1 million in the committee’s coffers to get the issue on the ballot.
”We want off this roller coaster ride, and we are looking for a tool that will be viable and will provide a long-term funding source for the state parks,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, executive director of the parks foundation, which is leading the effort.
But a ballot initiative is not a sure thing. Legislation for such vehicle fees failed in 2008 and 2009 after Republican lawmakers opposed new taxes. Despite initial support in polls, it is unclear whether cash-strapped voters would agree to another Department of Motor Vehicle fee.
The agreement to close as many as 100 of the parks was part of a deal signed in July by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to erase a $24 billion budget gap this fiscal year. The deficit-elimination plan means virtually every state department will lose personnel and see funding slashed, but the state park hit list is weighted with a huge amount of public anxiety and outrage. It will be the first time in the 108-year history of the park system that a park has been closed to balance the budget.
California’s 279 state parks, which cover 1.5 million acres, were already operating on little more than a shoestring budget, having absorbed years of cost cutting and staff reductions. As it is, the state parks have $1.2 billion in deferred maintenance on the books. Now, many of these under-maintained parks are facing outright abandonment.
Which parks will be closed remains a mystery. Park officials had said that parks that don’t make money, cannot be operated with minimal staffing and are not self-sustaining through fees are in jeopardy. Stearns said the project now is to determine which parks can be patrolled by personnel from nearby parks or by part-time workers.
“The last thing we want to do is close parks if there are alternatives out there, so if someone shows up the day after we release the list with an idea, then it would behoove us to listen,” Stearns said. “The goal would be to have this run its course in two years or less when hopefully the economy improves, state revenues improve and we can put our state parks back together.”
Thursday, September 17, 2009
September 16, 2009
More than 100 San Diego-area fishing enthusiasts with several dozen trailerboats participated in a convoy Sept. 5 to protest proposed regulations that, depending on the plan that received final approval, could permanently prohibit recreational angling along area shorelines to 3 miles offshore and limit fishing in South San Diego Bay.
Sportfishing enthusiasts, many with their children in tow, formed a half-mile-long trailerboat procession that began at Mission Bay, traveled down Pacific Coast Highway to Laurel Street, looped through Harbor Island, proceeded to Shelter Island Drive and stopped briefly at the Shelter Island Launch Ramp. The convoy then returned to Mission Bay’s South Shores Launch Ramp after stopping briefly at Dana Landing Launch Ramp.
Similar trailerboat convoys were conducted in Los Angeles and Orange counties to protest draconian closures now under consideration by the state.
Bill Watson, San Diego resident and father of 6- and 9-year-old boys, rallied to keep these important nearshore fishing grounds open for future generations.
“I enjoy fishing and love teaching my kids how to fish,” said Watson, who owns a plumbing company. “It’s important to have public access and be able to take my kids to La Jolla. Fishing is good recreation. It’s good father and son time. Video games are okay, but fishing is something we can do outdoors together.”
California’s well-intended Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) of 1999, designed to “improve recreational, educational and study opportunities” by creating a network of controlled fishing areas along the coastline, has already permanently closed many prime fishing areas in Central and Northern California and now threatens fishing opportunities for 17 million residents of Southern California.
Many at the rally expressed their belief that the MLPA process has been taken over by a cadre of well-funded radical environmentalists.
“Extreme environmentalists want to take public access away from your ocean,” was the message printed on several 8-foot banners towed along the route.
The message refers to the fact that the state, even when fiscally healthy, did not have the resources to implement the MLPA. When California halted work on the MLPA in 2004 due to lack of funding, the Resource Legacy Foundation (privately funded by the environmental cause-supporting Packard Foundation) offered to pick up the tab. To date, the Packard Foundation has reportedly funneled nearly $20 million into the MLPA planning process in what some believe is an attempt to buy anti-fishing regulations.
One San Diego rally participant who requested anonymity said: “If you want to talk conservation, then let’s talk conservation. The fishing community has been deeply involved in conservation of species for years. We’ve supported white seabass growout pens for more than 20 years and that species has rebounded. But this?
“This MLPA process has been wrestled away from the government by a very powerful special interest group bent on the prohibition of fishing,” the rally participant claimed. “It’s quite obvious from some proposals by environmentalists to blanket the shoreline with closed areas that the radicals are focusing on fishermen, not fish.”
However, MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force chairman Don Benninghoven issued a statement earlier this year denying that those who are funding the process have more sway than those who are not funding the process:
“Recently, the MLPA Initiative has experienced strong criticism, which is to be expected in a significant, cutting-edge effort to provide for a more balanced use of our ocean,” Benninghoven said. “We are confident in our mission to hear and consider all perspectives as we move forward in Southern California, so that we can balance efforts to provide maximum ocean protection while limiting short-term economic impacts.”
The trailerboat rallies were held in advance of a two-day meeting in Los Angeles Sept. 9 and 10. The meeting is one of several that designed to distill three different closure area proposals into a single recommendation that will be passed on to the California Department of Fish and Game Commission for approval.
If approved, the closures will likely be in effect by the end of 2010.
By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times
September 16, 2009
The blue ribbon task force working to define Marine Protected Areas for implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act in Southern California heard public commentary last week, and the line of coastal citizens waiting to speak their piece stretched all the way around the ballroom at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Los Angeles.
Executive Director Ken Wiseman of the task force and members of the South Coast Regional Stakeholder Group heard from residents weighing in on preferences for what has boiled down to three proposals for restricting commercial and recreational activities along the southern coast, including one off Point Dume.
The marine reserves would permit swimming and other recreational activities, but prohibit any kinds of extraction, from fish to kelp, other than for certain scientific data collection
Specifics on the Marine Protected Areas, or MPAs, from the three working groups are not publicly available yet, but fishing interests seem to support Group II while environmentalists seem split between groups I and III.
While most speakers recognized the need for imposing some kind of “take” restrictions in order to allow fish populations to replenish, many whose lives are intertwined with the fishing industry are worried about the economic impact such actions would have on their livelihoods.
The task force is working to strike a compromise that reconciles the concerns of environmentalists, marine biologists, commercial fishing businesses and weekend kayak fishers.
Alex Matsumoto, who owns a bait shop, said, “I speak for hundreds of tackle shops along the coast. [Substantial restrictions] will just devastate our business.”
Terry Scott of Paradise Cove said, “We are construction workers and service employees who have lived and fished for sport for decades. We support [proposals] that keeps east of Dume open.”
Linda Gibbs of Malibu said that her own children grew up spear fishing in Malibu but that the visible depletion of populations has led her to support carefully defined MPAs.
“We need balance,” Gibbs said. “[One] group might have a bigger no-catch area but [another] group doesn't adequately address Point Dume. We need to put MPAs where they will do the most good.”
Gibbs recently circulated a petition in Malibu that she believes meets all the scientific guidelines for an MPA, but is a fair compromise for fishermen. It allows for some recreational fishing at the Big Kelp Reef at Point Dume and at Paradise Cove Pier.
Gibbs said that perhaps only 1 percent of the people she met opposed any restrictions. “But they were offset by others who said the maps didn't go far enough,” she said.
Nichole McGinley, also of Malibu, believes that it is crucial the MPAs are devised comprehensively, since “California will be setting the tone for the rest of the nation's MLPAs.
“We need to differentiate between party boats with dozens of fishermen and one, nonmotorized spear fisherman,” McGinley said. “Now is the time when this kind of tweaking should be done.”
Charlotte Stevenson of the environmental advocacy group Heal the Bay emphasized that the environmental protection organization's concern was with take, rather than nonconsumptive, activity.
Some stakeholders question the science guidelines for developing MPAs. Dean Morrow is a recreational fisherman from Long Beach and fears that scientists and environmental groups developing protocols have no practical experience in the field.
“If you don't actually go out and fish, you don't know what's going on,” Morrow said. “We do a lot of our own policing. We release 80 percent of marlin and almost all calico bass. Maybe regulations should just place stricter limits on catch size.”
That sentiment was echoed by Kevin Ketchum, a member of the stakeholder group who believes the Group II proposal mandates the best guidelines.
“This plan also takes into consideration nonconsumptive users, like county and state water quality agencies,” Ketchum said in a phone interview. “The problem I have is that the science advisory team devising the maps treats kayak anglers the same as a party boat or guys who practice catch and release. Fisheries management was not really included in considerations and there are no scientific studies saying there have been depletions of any species.”
Stevenson said that assessment is a bit misleading.
“The science guidelines were developed by a nonpartisan advisory team comprised of scientists from academia and the Department of Fish and Game,” Stevenson said. “As far as scientific studies and species' depletion, well, it's kind of hard to say ‘I'm going out to count every halibut in Santa Monica Bay.' We have to rely on landings data and other measures to assess population.”
Stevenson provided a study by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission on statewide fish landings that included data on revenues, trips, vessels and processors by county, conducted from 1990-2008. The declines in all areas ranged up to 95 percent.
The MLPA task force and the science advisory team are meeting next month to continue deliberations. The California Fish and Game Commission will be reviewing a draft recommendation for mapping MPAs in Southern California by December, with an approved plan to be in place by next summer.
More information on the Marine Life Protection Act and the Marine Protected Areas can be obtained online at www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro said Monday that the North Coast's best strategy to handle the oncoming Marine Life Protection Act Initiative is to stay united in the face of an administration bent on pressing forward.
Chesbro, D-Arcata, said that California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Mike Chrisman was surprised at the reception the initiative received on the North Coast. That cohesive front, Chesbro said, presented by fishermen, environmentalists, tribes and governments, was born out of longtime efforts by locals to protect regional fisheries.
”That's the strength that we have,” Chesbro said. “That's the power we have.”
The MLPA looks to protect a range of habitats along the California coast, such as rocky areas and kelp forests and species that live in them. There are three different types of marine protected areas, one which would allow no fishing or harvesting of marine life, one that would allow some sport fishing only, and one that would allow some limited sport and commercial fishing. The areas are expected to work as a network.
Earlier this month, Chrisman answered a letter sent by all local governments, tribes and special districts in the area, in which they voiced concerns about the science, economics and approach behind the initiative. They asked Chrisman to consider delaying the process in light of California's budget crisis and a lack of data to support the creation of marine protected areas.
But Chrisman said that the planning process currently has no funding problem, thanks to the public-private partnership backing the initiative. He also insisted that adequate data and science are available.
”It is encouraging that with adequate resources and time you are willing to work proactively with the state to implement the MLPA,” Chrisman wrote.
Chrisman wrote that while the state is unlikely to have the funds to implement and enforce marine protected areas, it will continue to look to public-private partnerships to fund the program.
Chesbro, who voted for the MLPA in 1999, said that he had no idea at the time that private interests would end up being the force behind the initiative, and that he objects to how it's been implemented. But since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger insists on going forward with the plan, Chesbro said his aim is to redesign how it goes forward. That means it should be shaped by local communities and have the North Coast's economy at its center, he said.
Local commercial fisherman Dave Bitts said that every effort should be expended to develop a single, unified proposal to submit to the MLPA Initiative. But he also said that it's important to try to stop the implementation of the plans because of the horrible financial condition of what he called a nearly “failed state.”
Bitts said that the California Department of Fish and Game can't successfully keep people from poaching abalone -- and that's one of few violations wardens concern themselves with.
”How in the hell do they think they're going to administer marine reserves when they can't keep people from poaching abalone?”
Monday, September 14, 2009
Will he conclude he is compensating for damage to the ocean that would occur from an oil leak by stopping fishing in Marine Protected Areas - thereby "protecting" the ocean? After all that's what he and enviromental groups claim MPAs are doing.
By Malcolm Maclachlan, Capitol Weekly
Lieutenant Governor may be the Rodney Dangerfield office of California politics, but there is one key area of policy where that post has shown itself to be quite important this year: offshore oil drilling.
In January, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi cast the deciding vote against a major new offshore project in his role as one of three voting members of the State Lands Commission. With Garamendi almost certainly heading to Congress in November, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will have the task of appointing a replacement.
The oil drilling debate could add more intrigue to an appointment that is rife with potential danger for the governor. Political watchers have widely speculated that he might use the pick to reward an ally or remove a threat—or use it to help push some part of his agenda for his last year in office.
Schwarzenegger had traditionally been an opponent of offshore drilling. But as the budget crisis reached a higher pitch this year, he changed his position and specifically endorsed the project at the heart of this debate: the Tranquillon Ridge proposal by Texas-based Plains Exploration & Production Company, or PXP.
PXP’s has proposed taking an existing platform named Irene and use 17 of its remaining well slots to tap newly-discovered oil deposits. At 4.7 miles off the coast of Santa Maria, the platform actually sits in federal waters, and its current wells are under federal control. But the fields PXP hopes to tap are further towards shore, within the three-mile limit that gives the state jurisdiction.
These deposits include between 170 million and 200 million barrels of oil and 40 billion to 50 billion cubic feet of natural gas, worth more than $25 billion at current prices—according to the environmental impact report for the project. A large spill from a leaking bore hole from a rig off the Australian coast on Aug. 21 may have made this PR task harder, even though PXP had nothing to do with that project.
Theoretically, a lieutenant governor appointment could use a vote on the Lands Commission to approve this project, without the need to go through the Legislature. But Schwarzenegger would first need to get that pick approved by majority votes in both houses of the Legislature, where Democrats hold over 60 percent of the seats. For this reason, Garamendi doesn’t think Schwarzenegger would be able to get a drilling advocate through.
“I’m concerned about who the governor might appoint,” Garamendi said. “I’m very concerned. But I’m also aware the Legislature has the control here. The governor does not.”
But some environmentalists who oppose drilling are not so confident. There are two factors that worry Mike Endicott, the resources sustainability advocate with the Sierra Club of California. First, the Senate already approved a budget bill trailer bill in July that would have allowed the “T-Ridge” project, though the Assembly stripped out those provisions. Second, proposals can be brought back in front of the State Lands Commission repeatedly, without the six month delay required by the California Coastal Commission.
“You could keep coming back at them again and again and again,” Endicott said.
So far, the governor isn’t saying what he’ll do. “It’s still premature to comment on his options,” said Mike Naple, a spokesman for the administration.
Many of the names that have come for the appointment have been Republicans, notably Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, probably the most moderate Republican currently in the Legislature, or former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan. State Democratic Party chairman John Burton has reportedly told Schwarzenegger that Democrats could accept a Republican who had no further aspirations for the office after Garamendi’s term would have ended at the close of next year—though Burton is also a noted opponent of offshore drilling.
“I do not believe he is going to appoint a Democrat,” Burton said, explaining his position. He also noted that any appointee would need to be confirmed by both houses. “I think both would ask very serious questions about where anybody would be on the lands issue.”
As the de facto “landlord” of state property, the State Lands Commission has veto power over projects on state lands—a classification that covers coastal waters out to the three mile limit. Thus, companies must take any kind of coastal project to the Commission, whether it’s building a small marina or tapping a huge oil reserve.
PXP had been doing groundwork for months before the Jan 29 Lands Commission meeting, even lining up the support of some environmental groups that have long fought offshore drilling. But that their T-Ridge proposal hit a wall, in the form of former University of California offensive lineman Garamendi. He and controller John Chiang, another automatic member of the commission, voted down the proposal. The third commissioner, Schwarzenegger finance director Mike Genest, voted to approve the project.
A key factor in that hearing was a report from the Attorney General’s office stating that many of the provisions in the proposed project were not enforceable—an opinion PXP disputes.
But PXP didn’t give up. The company has also been engaged in a media blitz to get their side of the story out, including bringing journalists on guided tours of Platform Irene (disclosure: I took one of these trips on Sept. 2). Part of the deal they have set up includes closing several wells ahead of schedule, and donating 3,900 acres along the coast for “protected public use.”
“We’ve got a need to continue to get the facts out about the project,” said Steve Martini, manager of governmental affairs for PXP. “There has been a tremendous amount of misinformation spread about this project, primarily for people’s political interests. Regardless of whether it’s Mr. Garamendi or another Lieutenant Governor, the onus is on us to get the truth out.”
Part of the ammunition the company has been using is a statewide poll commissioned by PXP that shows two-thirds of state voters approved of the project when it was described to them. While PXP said they provided both arguments for and against the project, Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, isn’t buying it.
“The fact of the matter is that you can ask a poll question in any number of ways to get the result you’re looking for,” said Nava, a major opponent of offshore drilling who has also been pushing hard to a severance tax on oil production in California. “We’re not going to know if that happened until PXP releases the entire poll. Until then, I think people have the fight to be very skeptical of the results.”
The Lands Commission is only part of a large process. Any approved oil drilling project would then have to go before the California Coastal Commission and then the federal Mineral Management Service (MMS).
However, the Coastal Commission could only reject a project on technical grounds, not on policy, the way Garamendi and Chiang did. Mainly, their role would be to look at the impact on the coastal zone—in this case, a series of bore holes on the sea floor—and to review any lease for being consistent with the state Coastal Act. The MMS, meanwhile, is seen as far more sympathetic to drilling projects—meaning the Lands Commission is likely the main bureaucratic hurdle to T-Ridge or any other drilling project.
Staunch opposition from Garamendi and Chiang is one reason the company and drilling supporters in general have been trying to circumvent the standard process. The trailer bill would have effectively created an alternative approval process.
This is also the approach taken by AB 1536, a bill from Assembly GOP Leader Sam Blakeslesse, R-San Luis Obispo. This bill would replace the current process with an “Interim Resources Management Board, consisting of the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, the Secretary for Environmental Protection, and the Controller.”
In other words, it would leave Chiang, but substitute the Finance Director and Lt. Gov. with a pair of Schwarzenegger’s environmental appointees, Mike Chrisman with Resources and Linda Adams of Cal-EPA.
The bill also includes provisions that would have the company paying an early deposit of $100 million on royalties, though opponents dispute how much of this “up to” money would actually make it to the state. This money is earmarked to particular programs, something opponents claim is intended to mislead.
“Part of the bill is that it’s dangling money for state parks, AIDS, preventing domestic violence, adolescent family life, and black infant health,” said Gina Goodhill of Environment California. “All great things, but there’s actually no requirement that money be used for any of these programs that suffered budget cuts.”
Friday, September 11, 2009
By Zeke Barlow, Ventura County Star
September 11, 2009
After months of debate about the merits of setting aside parcels of the ocean versus allowing fishing to continue as-is, the process of establishing new marine protected areas got one step closer to completion Thursday when three maps were proposed as potential finalized blueprints for protecting the ocean.
From these three maps, one will likely be selected next month to be recommended to the California Fish and Game Commission, which will decide which to implement in about a year.
A new network of marine protected areas is mandated under the Marine Life Protection Act, a law that sets aside areas of the ocean to have varying levels of restrictions on fishing.
The idea is that in the areas where no fishing is allowed, fish will be able to thrive and help regenerate other populations outside the area.
The final three maps distinctly show the varying interests represented.
The map drawn up by conservationists puts more restrictions on the sea, and the one fishers put together permitted more uses throughout the area.
A third is a compromise of the two. The maps will be available for public viewing in a few weeks.
“Probably no one is going to get all they wanted, but no one is going to leave here unheard and with their fingerprints on the outcome,” said Greg Helms, program manager with the Ocean Conservancy.
Helms said the process will grant everyone in the state equal rights to the ocean, from scuba divers and environmentalists to fishers and communities whose economies rely on the sea.
“It’s important to understand that all Californians are co-owners of these resources, and the use of these resources is a privilege,” he said.
“We are creating a consensus right now in the ocean.”
But Joel Greenberg, chairman of the Southern California chapter of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, said the entire process of shutting fishers out of certain areas is to their disadvantage.
“If we win, we lose because we are giving up enormous amounts of valuable coastal areas that are important for recreation,” he said.
He argued the effects go beyond fishers to the communities that depend on fishing for revenue and tourism.
Bruce Steele has been fishing urchins off Santa Barbara for more than 30 years.
Although he said that the new regulations would likely force some people out of work, he also said he was OK with setting aside certain areas of the ocean for preservation.
“If there are some areas we don’t go in the world, that’s OK with me,” he said, adding that the fish populations in those areas will likely bounce back in large numbers.
But he said to put all the blame for the problems in the ocean solely on the shoulders of fishers is to forget all the impacts that everyone has on the ocean, including pollution, climate change and storm-water runoff.
“All humans are having effects on the ocean,” Steele said.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Local ocean food providers urge everyone to come to the “Take a Stand for Local Ocean Food!” Concert and Seafood Tasting at the Albion River Campground on Saturday, Sept. 26, from noon until 8.
Sample local albacore tuna, fresh oysters, uni (urchin roe), sea palm tips, with beer and wine available. Learn about northern California's sustainable fisheries from community members who are taking a stand to support local ocean food. Our fisheries and public ocean access are threatened by the so-called Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), as well as plans for offshore energy projects like wave energy, and it is our goal to restore the people's relationship with the ocean as a source of food and wealth for our coastal economy.
Enjoy the music of Black Horse, the Gatecrashers, Steven Bates and Rogerwood. Raffle, silent auction and vendor booths add to the excitement.
Tickets are $10 for the concert (BYO food) or $20 for the concert and seafood tasting. "Depression-Buster Deal": feed the family (4 tickets) for only $40. The event benefits the California Fisheries Coalition.
Overnight camping is available at Albion River Campground (707-937-0606) and the event location is off Highway 1, south of Fort Bragg, Calif.
Albion urchin diver Mike Carpenter was inspired to organize the concert while diving.
“When I started researching the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative, I realized that this corporate-dominated process is an attack on sustainable fisheries and our whole community,” Carpenter said. “I hope a thousand people come to be informed, entertained and share local ocean food. United we stand!”
Advance tickets can be purchased on the Web at: http://takeastandconcert.eventbrite.com
Tickets can also be purchased locally at these supporting businesses: Albion River Campground, Albion Grocery, Elk Store, ER Energy, Southern Exposure, Sub-Surface Progression, V'Canto Bar & Restaurant, and the Caspar Beach Campground.
Sponsoring organizations and businesses include the Recreational Fishing Alliance, the North Coast Fishing Association, CA Sea Urchin Commission, Little River Market, Ocean Fresh, Sonoma County Abalone Network, Aqua Rodeo Farms, J Bar S Ranch, Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers, Denise's Family Salon, Salmon Restoration Association, Faultline Music, Black Bear Press, Humboldt Fishermen's Marketing Association, Spunky Skunk and Rising Tide Sea Vegetable Co.
For more information call (707) 937-4362.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
San Diego 6 News Team
A state marine advisory panel meets in San Diego today to discuss the 43 protected habitats off Southern California and any recommendations for adjustments.
The state is in the process of remapping the protected areas based on the health of the habitat and fish populations, and any recommendations will eventually be handed up to the Fish and Game Commission.
"Small-scale fisheries are the most vulnerable to being hurt by a misplaced marine reserve," said Peter Halmay, a sea urchin diver. The San Diego County coast has 10 protected marine habitats. The Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 authorized the state Fish and Game Commission to reorganize those territories with more consistent standards.
But establishing new preserves will be a formidable task, because local fishing groups wield considerable political power, Russell Moll, director of the California Sea Grant program at the UC San Diego.
The objective is to preserve distinctive and highly productive segments of undersea habitat, such as the rocky reefs and kelp beds off Point Loma and La Jolla. But many of the same spots are treasured by sport anglers and commercial fishermen.
"Every mile of coastline in Southern California is somebody's favorite fishing ground," said Bob Fletcher of San Diego, president of the Sportfishing Association of California.
The group represents about 135 operators who take people on sportfishing trips.
"The key area for us to worry about are the near-shore areas used by half-day and one-day (charter) boats, which can go only 10-15 miles from their ports," Fletcher said. "We need to position the marine protected areas so they won't devastate sport-boat operations up and down the coast."
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
By ADAM TOWNSEND, The Orange County Register
September 5, 2009
Men and women involved in Orange County sportfishing gathered in front of Glenn's Tackle Shop in Costa Mesa on Saturday morning, writing slogans against the federal Marine Life Protection Act in soapy paint on the windows of their vehicles and preparing pamphlets and bumper stickers.
The protesters are all fisherman against, if not necessarily the act itself, its current plans for implementation in Southern California. They say official maps in the works now would make Laguna Beach, Dana Point and La Jolla down in San Diego County off-limits to sportfishing.
"Some people want to close Newport Harbor to the Dana Point breakwall," said Paul Romanowski, a diver and spear fisherman who organized the vehicle caravan from Costa Mesa to Dana Point in protest of the possible closures. "It would be closed to fishing only. If it were real environmental protection, you'd have us feeling different about it. There's no pollution, ground source pollution, no reef or kelp protection – you could still anchor in kelp beds. We don't have any protection against sewage fall."
Romanowski, as a diver, said he is passionately in favor of protecting oceans and marine life, but thinks closing the fisheries will kill the industry in Orange County and won't accomplish the goal of protecting marine life in a satisfactory way.
"If you want to talk about real conservation, we're on board," he said.
Sarah Sikich of Heal the Bay, and environmental group, is one of the stakeholders who has been participating in public meetings to hash out official maps to present to a panel selected by the California Fish and Game Commission. That panel will tweak the maps designating fishery closures for official approval by the commission itself in December.
The final round of public input sessions will be in Los Angeles this week.
Sikich said that port authorities, local governments, the tackle industry and sport fishermen have been involved in the Marine Life Protection Act's implementation process from the beginning.
"Instead of putting people behind closed doors to come up with these maps, we've done it openly," she said. "Fishermen have actually had a very strong say in this."
Sikich said that scientists have determined that protection areas have to encompass a minimum of nine miles of coastline and be spaced no more than 30 to 35 miles apart to do any good.
Southern California, she said, is the third region in which the federal Marine Life Protection Act is being put into effect in California – it was passed by Congress in the late 1990s.
She said in the two other coastal regions now in compliance with the act, only about 10 percent of the coastline ended up being closed to fishing.
But 10 percent of the coastline could end up being 75 to 100 percent of viable fisheries, said Wendy Tochihara, the national sales representative for Izorline, a tackle company.
"I'm really concerned because if we have big closures it's going to hurt the fishing industry and it's going to hurt my sales – I'm a single mom and I have two teenage daughters," she said.
Tochihara, who is also a meeting participant and was part of Saturday's caravan, said there were already many species-specific protections on the books and that the fisheries in California in general were already the most carefully managed in the country.
"Our fisheries are not depleted and not overfished – not anymore," she said.
Mike Proctor, 41, of Rancho Santa Margarita also came to join the caravan, which totaled about 15 to 20 people by the time it left Glenn's Tackle to hand out flyers in Dana Point Harbor.
"I'm just trying to get the word out," he said, helping his 3-year-old daughter untangle a balloon from her tiny, pink fishing pole. "I want to take my son out, and they want to take away our fishing rights. All I know what to do is come to meetings like this, and go to public meetings to make my voice heard."
In 1999, the Marine Life Protection Act was enacted because California's leaders recognized that coastal development, water pollution and other human activities threaten the health of marine habitat and biological diversity in our ocean waters.
When passed, the act was intended to be a broad conservation program that would fold together laws protecting water quality, coastal development, fishing and other efforts to minimize threats to our ocean. The Legislature recognized that, without a system of coordinated state actions, marine managed areas only "create an illusion of a comprehensive system" of protection and conservation."
And while we've known for years that threats from development and pollution - which studies show is the major problem facing our ocean - were never in doubt, the effects of fishing and nonconsumptive activities are tougher to determine.
In fact, ongoing development like the new mega resort at the old Marineland site at Palos Verdes, and numerous reports of major water-quality problems along our coast, confirm that coastal development and water pollution, not fishing, are the main threat.
Yet instead of attacking the biggest issues, regulators are simply using the law to prohibit fishing, saying that expansive fishing closures will protect the ocean. But that doesn't match up with any science.
Consider a landmark research article published this summer in Science magazine. It showed that California's marine ecosystem has the lowest exploitation rates of any examined region in the world. The report documented that our state's fishery management is the best in the world and problems that may have existed were already being addressed prior to 1999.
But sadly, a comprehensive plan that considers all science and one that does more than duplicate existing fishing regulations isn't part of the act's implementation.
Between 1999 and 2004, there were two efforts to implement the act and both failed. They suffered from a lack of adequate resources and did not provide sufficient information to the public, particularly regarding the potential socioeconomic impacts of marine reserves.
So in the summer of 2004, the California Department of Fish & Game, the California Resources Agency and a private entity known as the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation entered into a partnership to implement the law.
Sounds good, right? Consider the following: The foundation, which funds the act's implementation with money from wealthy and influential environmental nongovernmental organizations and trusts, can, if it does not like the direction in which the implementation is going, take its millions of dollars off the table and go home.
And since California is broke and the governor is desperately seeking to create a positive legacy to make up for the state's finances, it creates a perverse incentive to do things the way the foundation wants. Further, the partnership agreement requires full implementation of the act by 2011, a date not specified in the law.
An artificial target date, private money and a governor's need for a legacy means the real problems plaguing the ocean will not be addressed.
I would prefer our ocean resources be managed for all Californians, based on sound marine science, not political science.
How to comment
The public is invited to participate in the MLPA process.
Mail: MLPA Initiative, c/o California Natural Resources Agency, 1416 Ninth Street, Suite 1311, Sacramento, CA 95814.
You can also read comments submitted by others at www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/ publiccomments_sc.asp.
What: Meeting of the South Coast Regional Stakeholder Group
When: Wednesday and Thursday
Where: Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles, 6101 West Century Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90045
What: Meeting of the Blue Ribbon Task Force (group of seven public leaders who oversee the MLPA process)
When: Oct. 20-22
Where: Hilton Long Beach & Executive Meeting Center, 701 West Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90831
On the Web
Get more information at www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa.
Bob Bertelli is a veteran sea urchin diver based in San Pedro. He chairs the CA Sea Urchin Commission and is a member of the MLPA South Regional Stakeholder Group.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
September 2, 2009
Results of a survey categorizing beach activities of 5,865 Southern California visitors have put the state's Department of Fish and Game a step closer to implementing the Marine Life Protection Act, which includes proposed marine reserves off Westward Beach, Point Dume and Paradise Cove.
The reserves would allow recreational activity but prohibit the extraction of all marine resources, such as fish and kelp, other than for scientific data collection.
Local and commercial fishermen heavily opposed to reserves and other types of Marine Protected Areas say the revenue loss to the state from further fishing restrictions enacted by the MLPA would be devastating. However, the results of the survey-conducted by The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation-reveal that more than 90 percent of visits to the Southern California coast are for “non consumptive” activities such as scuba diving, tide-pooling and surfing, and that such “non-take” activities bring more money to coastal economies than “consumptive activities” like fishing.
Other fishing advocates claim that proposed MPA maps are too restrictive and don't permit efficient marine population management. California Fisheries Coalition Spokesman Vern Goehring believes the survey was skewed to find a targeted result.
“If you don't take into account the economic impact of boating activity-and most fishing is done from boats-then it's not a complete study,” Goehring said in a phone interview. “So how do you measure the true value? Does the study include ‘consumptive' activities like dining at a coastal seafood restaurant? Enjoying the cultural and historical significance of fishing towns or piers? There are a lot of holes in the report, I think.”
The survey, and its approach to collecting data, was designed in part by Dr. Linwood Pendleton of The Ocean Foundation. A computer tool that leverages the internet and Google Maps technology were used to randomly interview residents about their visits to the California coast. The survey sought to collect basic geographically referenced data to determine the amount of shore-based coastal recreation within targeted areas; estimate the expenditures on these recreations and develop techniques to cost-effectively monitor the impact of marine protection on shore-based recreational users. (The study did not focus on private or charter boat recreation.)
“Designing MPAs that try and minimize impacts on fishing misses the point,” Pendleton wrote in an e-mail. “The MLPA is a golden opportunity to make all of society better off, not just marine ecosystems.
“If the marine reserves around Point Dume and Palos Verdes offer solid protection, I think the benefits to local recreation and tourism will be many times greater than the costs to fishing,” Pendleton continued. “I can't wait to see the parking lot at the end of Westward Beach fill up with people coming to see the marine reserve!”
In the Internet survey Pendleton designed, respondents could select a coastal access site on a Google map in response to questions about where they generally visit the coast and about the specific beach they last visited. Respondents could select one of 225 predefined sites or designate their own site using a geo-spatial module developed for the survey, allowing information to be gathered on large stretches of coastline.
The survey ultimately gathered data from consumptive and non-consumptive visitors on types of coastal activities (fishing, diving, wildlife viewing), coastal access points used, trip-related expenditures and personal demographics (i.e., education level, place of residence, income and ethnicity).
The study group also checked data from recreational anglers to record what species were targeted, caught and kept during recent fishing trips.
More than 30 percent of respondents with the opportunity to take the survey completed it, and the result showed that the vast majority of trips taken by private, shore-based visitors are non consumptive in nature, with beach-going, ocean swimming and animal watching topping the list.
Consumptive activities-such as spear fishing, lobster diving and hook and line fishing-were on the list of recreations, but consistently scored in the single digits as activities enjoyed by respondents.
Data on trip-related expenditures showed that purely non-consumptive visits brought almost $115 million to coastal economies, while purely consumptive visits brought in about $2.5 million. Visits that combined consumptive and non-consumptive activities brought in about $23.5 million.
Lia Protopapadakis, marine policy specialist for the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, said the report has been sent to the Blue Ribbon Task Force, as well as all regional stakeholders.
“I think this report will weigh heavily on the task force's deliberations in developing MPAs,” Protopapadakis said. “Where I'm seeing the most impact now is in talking with coastal city representatives about the results. Redondo Beach is very interested as they have a strong commercial charter business.”
The Fish and Game Commission will be reviewing draft recommendations for the next several months, with an approved plan to be in place by next summer. Pendleton said he was hopeful about his report's impact.
“Southern California has made such impressive advances in improving water quality, restoring estuaries and coastal lagoons, and protecting... coastal habitat,” Pendleton wrote. “Protecting underwater habitat seems to be the obvious next step. No place in California stands to gain more from a good marine reserve system.”
The full Coastal Visitor Use Survey may be found by visiting the website www.santamonicabay.org/smbay/ProgramsProjects/HabitatRestorationProject/MPACorner/tabid/168/Default.aspx.