Monday, November 9, 2009

MLPA panel decision due Nov. 10

Del Mar Times
November 6, 2009

A Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force that delayed a final decision Oct. 22 on choosing among three proposals for creating marine protected areas along the Southern California coast, is expected to render its decision Nov. 10 following a hearing in Los Angeles.

The state panel requested further scientific analysis of habitat maps for coastal areas including La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach and other areas in San Diego County, which could be designated as protected areas. There are now four options for San Diego County. All, to varying degrees, would make marine protected areas that are created off-limits to fishing.

The panel's recommendation ultimately will go to the state Fish and Game Commission.

Close Laguna coast to fishing? Big decision expected Tuesday

By Pat Brennan, Orange County Register
November 9, 2009

A major decision on new protections for ocean life that could include banning fishing off Laguna Beach is expected Tuesday in Los Angeles.

A blue-ribbon task force that is part of the state-sponsored Marine Life Protection Act Initiative will resume its discussion of possible new protected areas off Southern California.

After hearing more public comments – there have been more than 10,000 written comments and six hours of verbal comments since a stakeholder group produced its final three proposals last month – the panel is expected to choose, or create, a “preferred alternative” that it will recommend for final approval to the state Fish and Game Commission.

The effort to create new marine protected areas off Southern California has ignited controversy, especially among fishing interests. In Orange County, sportfishing enthusiasts and operators of recreational fishing boats have expressed strong opposition to some of the leading proposals.

Joining with local commercial lobster fishermen, they say such restrictions could harm the local economy — not just the operators of fishing party boats, but the restaurants, gas stations, shops and other businesses that rely on the sportfishing industry.
Proponents, including environmental and conservation groups, say the new marine protected areas are needed to ensure the survival of fish and other marine life, and to preserve marine habitat.

Last month, the stakeholders produced three complex maps outlining areas off the Southern California coast, from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border, that would receive a range of protections, from some limits on fishing to outright bans.

All three — one produced by a group dominated by environmental groups, one by fishing interests and one by mixed interests — identified a large area off the Laguna coast as closed to fishing.

Once the Fish and Game Commission receives a final recommendation, it could take months, or even as long as a year, to give final approval.

The blue-ribbon panel had been expected to make a decision Oct. 22 in Long Beach, but postponed it to Nov. 10. The meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Los Angeles.

Laguna Beach residents choose local economy over marine closures

BYM Marine & Maritime News
November 8, 2009

Because of continuing concerns about closures of California's coastal fishing areas, California's recreational fishing community decided to examine the City of Laguna Beach residents' attitudes towards ocean closures. The intent was to take a reading of public opinion on the issues surrounding the non-binding measure passed 4-1 by the City Council on June 16, 2009 to endorse the establishment of a marine reserve along the Laguna shoreline. The reserve would prohibit recreational fishing along Laguna Beach's shoreline under California's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA).

As part of that process, a city-wide survey of active voters sponsored by the American Sportfishing Association on behalf of the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans (PSO) was conducted by California-based Research Analytics & Strategy.

When respondents were asked their opinion about increasing regulation and protection of the Laguna Beach shoreline versus the potential negative impact to local businesses, respondents chose to reject increased shoreline protection in support of local businesses by nearly 20 percentage points.

Beyond their support of the local economy, and above increased coastal protections, respondents in even greater percentages supported the continuation of recreational fishing along the Laguna Beach shoreline, and in all cases rejected eliminated recreational fishing.

The survey executive summary is posted online for public review.

"California's recreational fishing community has expressed concern that while the MLPA initiative process may have laudable objectives, precedent suggests that for practical purposes, closures are permanent with few if any opportunities to re-open debate and that closure does not necessarily equal increased protection," said Patty Doerr, Ocean Resource Policy Director for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), a PSO member. "The public and recreational fishermen are skeptical that marine reserves and marine protected areas are necessary tools for protecting California's ocean health. In fact, recent studies have shown that California's fisheries are some of the least exploited in the world. California's fishery management policies and habitat protection measures are working."


Independent of each other, respondents rank Laguna Beach's local economy, and the environment very high.

The majority of respondents consider themselves strong to very strong environmentalists.

In relationship to each other, concerns for local jobs and local businesses far outweigh concerns for expanding marine and habitat protections along the Laguna Beach coastline.

Respondents are willing to accept the minor impacts from recreational fishing along the Laguna Beach shoreline.

Respondents overwhelmingly reject the proposed elimination of recreational fishing in order to expand the protections for marine habitat.

History of the MLPA
The 1999 Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) mandated that the state of California design and manage an improved network of marine protected areas to, among other things; protect marine life and habitats, marine ecosystems, and marine natural heritage. Marine protected areas include marine reserves, marine parks and marine conservation areas.

To implement the original legislation the state created the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative, with its Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF), Scientific Advisory Team (SAT), and Regional Stakeholder Groups (RSG) to make recommendations to the California Fish and Game Commission. The commission will decide which coastal areas are placed off limits to fishermen and the general public.

Currently, the BRTF is considering proposals for the South California coast. The Partnership for Sustainable Oceans supports Proposal 2 because it balances additional ocean conservation while minimizing adverse economic impacts. The BRTF is scheduled to meet on November 10, in Los Angeles to finalize a preferred alternative which would then be sent to the California Fish and Game Commission for consideration.

About the Survey
A survey of active voters in Laguna Beach, Ca., was conducted on behalf of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) by Research Analytics & Strategy. The overall objective of the survey was to take a reading of public opinion on the issues surrounding the non-binding measure passed 4-1 by the City Council on June 16 to endorse the establishment of a marine reserve, which would prohibit recreational fishing under the MLPA.

California-based Research Analytics & Strategy is the public opinion and survey research company founded by Media & Associates. The company has been conducting survey research and creating survey models throughout California for over fifteen years. Contact Kevin Reikes, Research Analytics & Strategy, 916-448-1995, for more information.

The American Sportfishing Association, based in Alexandria, Virginia, is a national trade association working to ensure the future of fisheries resources and to promote recreational and sportfishing to the American public.

The MLPA Process and Peripheral Canal: One Ugly, Environmentally Injust Process

Arnold Schwarzenegger leaned on the Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg to ramrod a peripheral canal/bonds package through the Legislature early Wednesday morning that will likely result in the destruction of collapsing Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations.

By Dan Bacher, IndyBay
November 6, 2009

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) and peripheral canal boondoggles, although they may be at first appear to be different issues, are effectively one and the same process. The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, the League of Conservation Voters, the Nature Conservancy, NRDC and their corporate buddies have collaborated with Schwarzenegger to engineer both processes with no regard for local communities or environmental justice.

Mike Carpenter, a sea urchin diver and organizer of a recent fundraiser for the California Fisheries Coalition in Albion on the Mendocino coast, made the vital connection between the MLPA process and Scharzenegger's campaign to build a peripheral canal. Carpenter emphasized that the MLPA is just a "cover-up" 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 peripheral canal and MLPA process are intimately linked by:

(1) Leadership: Phil Isenberg presided over both the Central Coast MLPA and the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Forces - and did an equally atrocious job of "leading" both processes.

(2) Funding: The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation has funded both the MLPA process and the Delta Vision Foundation, along with giving millions of dollars to the "environmental" NGO's that are slavishly supporting both processes.

(3) Greenwashing: Desperately needed actions to restore our ocean, bay and Delta waters have been substituted under the MLPA process with the imposition of new, redundant fishing closures on the most heavily regulated ocean waters on the planet to further the Governor's "green" facade. In the case of the Delta Vision and BDCP processes, the dire need to restore the Delta by decreasing water exports and retiring drainage impaired land on the San Joaquin Valley's west side has been substituted with plans to build a peripheral canal and increase water exports to corporate agribusiness and southern California while taking Delta family farms out of production and converting them to salt marsh.

(4) Racism and Environmental Elitism: Tribal and environmental justice communities in both processes have been excluded in an egregious, disgusting example of environmental racism.

The racism of the current MLPA process become apparent when the Kashia Pomo Tribe was banned from harvesting abalone, mussels and seaweed off Stewarts Point Reservation, as they have done for hundreds of years, by the California Fish and Game Commission at their meeting in August.

“What you are doing to us is taking the food out of our mouths,” said Lester Pinola, the past chairman of the Kashia Rancheria in a public hearing prior to the contentious vote. “When the first settlers came to the coast, they didn’t how to feed themselves. Our people showed them how to eat out of the ocean. In my opinion, this was a big mistake.”

While corporate environmentalists and the Schwarzenegger administration are pushing for further "no take" marine reserves in a largely recovered groundfish fishery, Central Valley salmon, delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon, southern resident killer whales, herring and other species have collapsed to record low population levels in recent years, due to massive exports of water to corporate agribusiness by the state and federal governments. These are species that are nearing extinction!

Yet the same Packard Foundation and Resource Legacy Fund Foundation-funded NGOs that are so fervent about supporting the corrupt MLPA process and praising Schwarzenegger for his "green" leadership supported the water package, passed by the Legislature early Wednesday morning, that will result in the construction of the canal, an enormously costly project that would seal the doom of collapsing salmon and Delta fish populations.

Fortunately, North Coast grassroots environmentalists, Indian Tribes, commercial fishermen and recreational anglers and are now united with southern California fishermen, surfers and kayakers in opposing the current unjust implementation of the MLPA and Schwarzenegger's attempt to greenwash his failed environmental policies. They realize that there is nothing "green" about Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the worst Governor for fish and the environment in California history.

To oppose the peripheral canal is to oppose the corrupt MLPA process and to oppose the MLPA process is to oppose the peripheral canal.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Poll: Support for commercial fishing, oppose total bans

POLL: Public Doesn’t Support Total Ocean Bans, Believes in Reasonable Regulation to Accommodate Fishing and Also Protect Species

By Alliance for Communities of Sustainable Fisheries, Natural Resources Report
November 4, 2009

National Study Highlights:

- An overwhelming majority of U.S. residents support legal recreational fishing (90%) with most of that being strong support. Additionally large majority of U.S. residents support legal recreational fishing in National Forests (80%) and National Parks (78%) and wilderness areas (72%).

- An overwhelming majority of U.S. residents support legal commercial fishing and shellfish fishing in U.S. waters (86%)

- 95% support protecting U.S. ocean waters and ocean life; 78% strongly support doing so and another 17% moderately support doing so. Among US residents.

- Posed as an open ended question, respondents were then asked what “protect” means, as in “we should protect ocean waters and ocean life”. The most common responses regarding the meaning of “protect” pertains to managing for sustainable use (29%), protecting rare and fragile habitats or sea life (21%), and protecting the environment against oil spills, pollution, dumping etc. (20%) No other category response received more than 14%, including responses of “full protection—no human use” (8%), protecting “some ocean waters” (3%), protecting a “percentage of ocean waters” (1%)

The Alliance of Communities for Sustainable Fisheries (ACSF) has released the results of a national public opinion poll revealing the public’s attitudes about ocean conservation which found that the public strongly wants the ocean to be protected, but not with total marine closures.

Respondents expressed a reluctance to place the ocean off limits to human use if those areas and the resources can be used sustainably. The public does support placing areas off limits to all human use, but only if it is to protect rare and fragile habitats, where no sustainable use is possible. And researchers found that the level of support for both commercial and recreational fishing remains strong.

“The public doesn’t support laws or regulations that hurt the nation’s small, independent fishermen or recreational fishing activities,” said Vern Goehring, manager of the California Fisheries Coalition. “They want smart management of marine ecosystems, not total ocean closures that hurt local economies.”

“That’s good news for fishermen and other ocean users, but it also shows that many state and federal officials are out of touch with public opinion as they attempt to close areas of the ocean to human use,” added Kathy Fosmark, Alliance of Communities for Sustainable Fisheries Co-Chair. “People just don’t want to be shut out from using the ocean.”

The poll also found that people are concerned about how much seafood is imported into the U.S. for human consumption.

Most (89%) of those surveyed consider it important to provide U.S. caught fish. “I believe that most people would be shocked to discover that over 85% of the seafood we consume comes from foreign sources, many of which have no ocean protective measures in place whatsoever” said Monterey commercial fisherman Mike Ricketts. “I hope that this results in more support from our political leaders for the nation’s fishing men and women”.

“Had this survey been taken BEFORE implementation of the California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), perhaps many long-time fishing families and businesses would not have been harmed or destroyed,” said Janice Peters, mayor of Morro Bay. “My hope is that with this information, positive changes will be made to the MLPA process that recognize and support the importance of our fishing industry. A balanced, sustainable solution is possible if all stakeholders work together respectfully to achieve it.”

“This public opinion poll offers relevant information to elected officials and other decision-makers when they are considering broad strategies for the management of our marine resources. The Alliance of Communities for Sustainable Fisheries sponsored poll has asked important questions about core public values” stated Steve Scheiblauer, Monterey Harbormaster. “Conservation versus Preservation… it’s good to hear the public’s opinion.”

In addition, the poll showed that the public is willing to accept some change in the ocean’s natural biodiversity in exchange for food production – not clear on what this means?

The nationwide survey results are directly relevant to the new interest in spatial management, the Federal system of Marine Protected Areas, the upcoming Congressional reauthorization of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and the ongoing California Marine Life Protection Act process, as well as the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s Marine Protected Area process for Federal waters.

The public opinion polls reached 729 people nationally, representing proportionally every state, and were conducted by Responsive Management of Harrisonburg, Virginia, an internationally known polling firm specializing in natural resource issues. The margin of error is 3.63%.

Study and regional spokespersons are available, details of the study are below and the entire study can be viewed at

National Study Highlights

An overwhelming majority of U.S. residents support legal recreational fishing (90%) with most of that being strong support. Additionally large majority of U.S. residents support legal recreational fishing in National Forests (80%) and National Parks (78%) and wilderness areas (72%).

An overwhelming majority of U.S. residents support legal commercial fishing and shellfish fishing in U.S. waters (86%)

Among U.S. residents, 95% support protecting U.S. ocean waters and ocean life; 78% strongly support doing so and another 17% moderately support doing so

Posed as an open ended question, respondents were then asked what “protect” means, as in “we should protect ocean waters and ocean life”. The most common responses regarding the meaning of “protect” pertains to managing for sustainable use (29%), protecting rare and fragile habitats or sea life (21%), and protecting the environment against oil spills, pollution, dumping etc. (20%) No other category response received more than 14%, including responses of “full protection—no human use” (8%), protecting “some ocean waters” (3%), protecting a “percentage of ocean waters” (1%)

The public’s interest in fully protecting (no human use at all) some U.S. ocean waters is qualified by the public’s sentiment that the areas to be protected in such a manner should be those which have rare and fragile habitats or species.

The survey asked respondents if they agree or disagree that some change to the natural biodiversity in U.S. ocean waters is acceptable in exchange for a continued food supply through fishing and shellfish fishing…agreement (71%) far exceeds disagreement (20%).

The survey, after informing respondents that approximately 85% of seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported, asked U.S. residents how important it is to them that the U.S. maintain its ability to supply seafood to U.S. residents rather than depend entirely on imported seafood. U.S. residents rated this quite high…89% said it is important to them, with most of them saying it is very important (70%).

Supervisors' plan would keep Rocky Point open, close Point Dume for fishing

Torrance Daily Breeze

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors moved Tuesday to support a hybrid plan that would prohibit fishing off Malibu's Point Dume while keeping a favorite Palos Verdes Peninsula fishing ground open.

The board voted in favor of creating a state marine reserve off Malibu but against offering the same protections to Rocky Point, a destination for South Bay commercial and recreational fishermen.

The vote was seen as a compromise between positions taken by conservationists and fishing interests.

Dozens of environmental activists and residents who fish, boat, kayak and dive off the coast argued before the board about which parts of the coastline should be protected or left open.

The board's action is intended to influence the decision of a state task force that will make a final recommendation as to which areas throughout the state should be protected under the Marine Life Protection Act. The California Fish and Game Commission has final say over protections under the 10-year-old law.

The Marine Life Protection Act was adopted in 1999 in response to extreme overfishing of coastal waters. Fish stocks remain depressed, according to data offered by the state Department of Fish and Game.

Under an initiative that has divided the state coastline into five sections with the goal of implementing the act, dozens of stakeholders have created three competing plans for closures in an area stretching from Santa Barbara County to the Mexico border.

The three plans - drafted by fishing interests, conservationists and a compromise group - each specified areas where fishing would be prohibited or curtailed.

State marine reserves prohibit all fishing. Another designation, state marine conservation area, allows for limited fishing.

Tuesday's action by the board reflects support for the compromise position in Malibu and the plan favored by fishing interests for areas off the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

The most environmentally friendly plan in Malibu would extend the reserve to Zuma Beach and add fishing restrictions off Broad Beach.

The most aggressive plan excluded Point Dume and instead protected areas near Malibu Lagoon State Beach and Big Sycamore Canyon.

In addition to hurting those who fish, the compromise plan "will be a death knell for kayakers," one resident warned.

But many, including Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and representatives from nonprofit Heal the Bay, supported the compromise.

"I would have preferred (the most protective plan) myself, personally," Yaroslavsky said. But he backed limiting the protection to Point Dume, saying it would "support a diversity of marine life while leaving areas east and west open for fishing."

"Reaching this compromise was not easy," said Sarah Sikich of Heal the Bay, apparently referencing the Malibu plan specifically.

Yaroslavsky's proposal was offered together with Supervisor Don Knabe and excluded Rocky Point based on "its unique character as a critical socioeconomic and cultural resource," according to documentation the two supervisors provided to their colleagues.

The Rocky Point area has long been a battleground between sport and commercial fisherman and conservationists. The fishermen's economic arguments have gained resonance in today's difficult economic climate.

The unanimous 5-0 vote directs staff to send a letter to the Marine Life Protection Act Blue Ribbon Task Force detailing the board's position. Having been unable to craft a final recommendation at a lengthy meeting last month, the task force is expected to select its preferred alternative Tuesday.

The Fish and Game Commission is expected to make a final decision in December.

Fish and game commissioners have accepted the task force's proposals for other parts of the state with few modifications, according to published reports.

Want to go?

What: The Blue Ribbon Task Force is set to vote on a proposal to close fishing areas in Southern California.

Where: Sheraton Gateway Hotel, 6101 West Century Blvd., Westchester

When: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10

California Assembly: Stop Funding MLPAI Process

In this superb commentary, John and Barbara Stephens-Lewallen urge the California Assembly to stop the private takeover of California's public trust ocean resources by the Resource Legacy Foundation.

By John & Barbara Stephens-Lewallen, Mendocino Sea Vegetable Company
November 3, 2009

The tragic consequences of the private-foundation takeover of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI) are spreading from California’s coastal communities to people dependent on ocean food for health. All ocean food providers in California are stressed by MLPAI permanent area closures either declared or threatened by the MLPAI process.

In August, 2004, the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation gained total control of the process of setting up Marine Protected Areas in California’s public ocean waters and intertidal zone under the Marine Life Protection Act of 1999, by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Resources Secretary Michael Chrisman. This Memorandum of Understanding is unprecedented in California history: private foundations are given total control over making fisheries regulations.

We’re asking Californians to educate yourselves, and your Assembly member, about this private takeover of public fisheries regulatory process. Please demand that the Assembly put a stop to it by using their power to deny state funding for the MLPAI process.

Today the State of California has no money to review the work done by the the private MLPAI process, which Barbara and I have found to be cruel, unaccountable, and determined to close key ocean access areas and fisheries on a tight schedule. Nor is there state money to finance California State Wardens to patrol the new Marine Protected Areas.

Is California headed for privately-funded guards for the new Marine Protected Areas? Resources Secretary Chrisman is sure that private funding for California’s fish and game wardens always will be necessary.

“The truth of the matter is that we do not and never will have adequate funding to alone manage all of California’s natural resources in the most effective manner, which makes public-private partnerships like the MLPA Initiative so important, not only for planning purposes , but also for long-term management,” Secretary Chrisman wrote in the October, 2009, Executive Director’s Message in the MLPA Initiative South Coast News.

The big MLPAI lie is that they have been directed by the Assembly through the Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 to do what they are doing. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The private foundations controlling the MLPAI have many motives, but all are focused on ending public access to sustainable seafood in California’s public intertidal zone and ocean waters.
When the California State Assembly halts appropriations for the MLPAI, it will stop. We should stop this private takeover of California’s vital public fisheries in its early stages.

Don Koch Appoints North Coast 'Science' Panel for Corrupt MLPA Process

By Dan Bacher, IndyBay
November 3, 2009

Donald Koch, California Department of Fish and Game Director, announced on October 27 the appointment of a panel of science advisors to assist in "redesigning marine protected areas" along the northern California coast. The Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Master Plan Science Advisory Team (SAT) will provide "scientific support" for the MLPA Initiative, apparently just like the Bechtel-funded Delta report issued by the Public Policy Institute of California provided the "scientific" justification for the peripheral canal.

"The scientists I have appointed to the advisory team are each uniquely qualified for this important task," Koch gushed. "Their experience and expertise in marine resources conservation make them well suited to provide accurate, insightful advice and will help ensure that all decisions made in the coming months will be firmly rooted in the best available science."

Koch made the announcement prior to resigning from his position as Director on November 1. Koch had earned the reputation for being a "yes man" to whatever Governor was in power, having presided over massive fish kills on the Scott and Shasta rivers in 2001 when he was a regional director under the Davis administration.

Most recently, Koch approved a plan by the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) to issue a blanket permit for agricultural practices that kill salmon or destroy habitat in the Shasta and Scott, two of the Klamath’s key salmon spawning tributaries. A coalition of tribes, conservationists, and commercial fishing groups, represented by Earthjustice, filed suit in San Francisco Superior Court to block Koch's precedent-setting proposal to strip endangered species protections from threatened coho salmon in northern California’s Klamath River watershed.

“These proposed permits are essentially licenses to kill salmon,” said Erica Terence of Klamath Riverkeeper, lead plaintiff on the case. “With conditions deteriorating for fish every year on the Scott and Shasta, CDFG should be proposing programs that expand protections for fish, not destroy them as these watershed-wide permits would do.”

The MLPA process takes place in the larger context of Schwarzenegger's war against endangered salmon and steelhead populations in the Scott and Shasta rivers and his campaign to build a peripheral canal and more dams to increase water exports from the California Delta. Rather than appointing a "science advisory team" to justify the corrupt MLPA process, Koch should have had the courage to ask for a suspension of the process, since the state of California does not have enough game wardens to patrol existing Marine Protection Areas (MPAs) on the Central Coast.

The California Fish and Game Wardens have asked for a suspension of the process, due to lack of funding for wardens. A broad coalition of North Coast environmentalists, fishermen, seaweed harvesters and Indian Tribes have also asked for a suspension of the initiative, a process rife with conflicts of interest, mission creep, racism and corruption of the democratic process.

Koch also should have shown some integrity by strongly opposing Schwarzenegger's support of the peripheral canal and more dams, a plan that will only exacerbate the collapse of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, Sacramento splittail, striped bass, green sturgeon and the southern resident population of killer whales.

Finally, he should have shown some integrity by standing up for endangered coho and chinook salmon on the Shasta and Scott rivers, rather than approving a license to kill by irrigators.

Rather than taking long needed actions that would actually help restore California's fish populations, Koch perpetuates the lie that the MLPA process is guided by "science" by appointing a panel that will give "scientific" cover to MLPA corporate greenwashing.

The first of the five study regions to be redesigned under the MLPA fiasco was the Central Coast. The California Fish and Game Commission adopted a final package of MPAs for this region in April 2007, in spite of strong opposition from fishermen, Indian tribal members and environmental justice advocates.

The next study region to be redesigned was the North-central Coast, for which regulations were adopted on August 5, 2009. In a grotesque parody of justice, the Kashia Tribe and other Indian Nations will be banned from the traditional areas off Stewarts Point in Sonoma County and Point Arena in Mendocino County where they have sustainably harvested seaweed, abalone and mussels for centuries. Recreational fishermen, seaweed harvesters, commercial fishermen and recreational divers, who have stood up against pollution, clearcutting forests and offshore oil drilling for decades, will also be removed from the ocean in key areas.

The South Coast is nearing the end of the process as the North Coast begins the process. The San Francisco Bay will be the last region to be studied.

In an classic example of egregious conflicts of interests under the Schwarzenegger administration, the Governor recently appointed Kathy Reheis-Boyd, the executive director of the Western States Petroleum Association, to be the chair of the South Coast Blue Ribbon Task Force. How can anybody claim that having an oil company lobbyist heading a so-called "marine protection" panel is anything but corporate greenwashing, especially when the oil companies are trying to install more oil drilling rigs off the northern and southern California coast?

Real environmentalists don't support Schwarzenegger's corrupt MLPA process, just like they don't support the peripheral canal, more dams and killing off endangered salmon on the Scott and Shasta rivers.

On the Waterfront: Panel to look at no-fishing zones again

By Kristopher Hanson, Long Beach Press-Telegram

A state panel will reconvene Nov. 10 in Los Angeles to consider a controversial plan expanding no-fishing zones off the Southern California coast.

During hearings Oct. 20-22 in Long Beach, a blue-ribbon panel declined to pick among three proposed fishing restricted zones following hours of heated debate between anglers, biologists and environmentalists. Instead, the panel voted to continue deliberations through early November before forwarding their recommendation to the California Fish and Game Commission, which votes on a final plan in December.

The most aggressive proposal, which supporters contend would ultimately revitalize declining fish and marine life populations off Southern California's coast, expands restrictions on popular commercial and recreational angling spots off the Palos Verdes Peninsula and around the Channel Islands.

Opponents, who include much of the commercial and recreational angling community in Long Beach, San Pedro and the South Bay, favor a less restrictive proposal that would allow many of the fishing zones to remain largely intact.

The Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 is designed to protect for future generations marine life within three miles of California's roughly 1,000 miles of coastline. The act divided the state into five regions, with a blue-ribbon panel designated for each area and consisting of environmentalists, commercial fishermen, biologists and others whose recommendations are forwarded to the five-member Fish and Game commission, which carries ultimate authority on the various plans.

In recent months, the commission has accepted, without change, proposals forwarded by similar panels in Northern and Central California.

The panel responsible for adopting local MLPA zones meets at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 10 at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel, 6101 W. Century Blvd. in Los Angeles for further deliberations and possible changes to the three proposals debated during the Long Beach hearings. The public is welcome to attend or watch a live feed of the hearing

They have also posted maps online of the three proposals - and possible alterations to the proposals - at and at

Proponents of the strictest proposal, known as Map 3, which expands restricted areas surrounding the Channel Islands and Palos Verdes Peninsula, contend recent scientific study of the area shows it has been overly exploited, leaving fish stocks depleted and wreaking havoc on the underwater ecosystem.

They contend a more managed approach to underwater ecosystems will ultimately increase fishing opportunities by allowing depleted stocks to replenish and eventually expand beyond restricted zones.

"When you look at areas where commercial fishing has been banned or restricted for periods in the past - the northern Channel Islands is a good recent example - the scientific evidence shows that within a few years the fish populations return, the environment heals, the fish actually return bigger and healthier and the fishing industry turns out more of a profit, so it makes sense in the long-term to adopt these policies," said Charlotte Stevenson, a marine biologist with Heal the Bay.

Opponents, however, contend further restrictions could decimate an ailing local fishing industry, which they contend already suffers from the effects of existing environmental restrictions.

They prefer a less restrictive approach as outlined in Map 2 on the MLPA Web site, which they say supports the ecosystem without destroying opportunities for fishermen and recreational anglers.

Representatives of several South Bay cities with large commercial fishing industries, including Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach, have urged adoption of Map 2, which largely leaves fishing areas near the Peninsula's popular Rocky Point open. The group created a Web site,, to support their plan.

The blue-ribbon panel is accepting written comments through Nov. 4. Interested parties are encouraged to contact panel members, whose names and contact information are available at

Monday, November 2, 2009

Locals turn out to voice MLPA frustration

By Steve Chittock, The Daily Triplicate
November 2, 2009

More than 70 people showed up Thursday night to talk to officials involved with the effort to create marine protected areas along California’s coast.
A frank discussion focused on the fact that some North Coast residents, including fishermen, harbor commissioners and county supervisors, feel left out of the process.

And while many of the attendees left still frustrated, Marine Life Protection Act Initiative officials felt the session was a good step in developing communication with the community.

“We had a good mix,” said MLPA Initiative Executive Director Ken Wiseman. “There were both first-time attendees and people for whom this was their third meeting. It meant we had to get through the basics, but I think there was a lot of communication.”

The MLPA Initiative is tasked with forming marine protected areas along the entire coast, which has been separated into five regions. The North Coast is the fourth region to begin the process.

The three possible levels of marine protection are primarily based on the severity of the take limit. From least restrictive to most, they include marine conservation areas, marine parks, and marine reserves (which would be no-take areas).

The second half of Thursday’s meeting was supposed to be devoted to a training workshop that covered the key components of so-called external MPA proposals — including science and feasibility guidelines and training in MarineMap, the MLPA Initiative’s online mapping tool.
But due to technical difficulties, those training sessions will be held as webinars — Internet-based seminars — Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week.

External proposals would be developed by people or groups outside of the official process, which involves a recently chosen Science Advisory Team (SAT) and a regional stakeholders group.

Because of the technical difficulties, Thursday’s meeting became more of a question-and-answer session than a workshop.

Crescent City Harbor Commissioner Scott Feller expressed the audience’s general frustration by questioning not only the science behind the MLPA, but also the public outreach effort.

The sentiment was echoed by people all across the room.

“It would be nice if you guys showed us where the sand and rock bottoms are,” a local fishermen said. “How can we submit an external proposal without knowing what’s going on?”

Local fishermen Bill DeBacker put it more directly.

“We should be involved in every step of the process,” DeBacker said. “That’s fairness, we’re the ones out there every day.”

MLPA Initiative Principal Planner Evan Fox agreed with DeBacker that fishermen should be a part of the process.

“That is one of the reasons that we are meeting tonight,” Fox said. “We want as much community input as possible, especially from you guys. It’s in fishermen’s best interest to get in touch with Eco-Trust, to show them where fishing areas are, the grounds that are the most important.”

Eco-Trust is a non-profit firm in Portland that has been contracted to collect economic impact information about MPAs.

“Eco-Trust has collected economic impact information in the last three regions,” said MLPA Initiative Executive Director Ken Wiseman. “It lets us know where the most impact is going to be felt.”

Fox’s assertion that the most important thing fishermen can do is to communicate where the best fishing grounds are was met with quiet distrust in the audience.

During an intermission, one fishermen who preferred to remain anonymous expressed doubt that telling the officials anything would be beneficial.

“We helped when they wanted us to keep track of salmon,” he said. “But all that got us was no more salmon fishing.”

Harbormaster Richard Young felt that overall the meeting provided a good resource for community members who haven’t been following the process closely.

“I feel that a lot of people got to air their feelings and concerns and that it moved down the road a ways,” Young said. “Ultimately I don’t think it altered anybody’s opinions of the process. But unfortunately it’s the law. It’s like the speed limit, I may not like driving 55 miles an hour, but I still do because I have too.”

The webinars are being held from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, and they are available online or by teleconference.

To participant in teleconference calls on any of the days, dial (877) 662-7634 at the appropriate time and enter passcode 6379063.

To make a reservation for the online seminar, go to the GoToWebinar Web site at

According to MLPA officials, using GoToWebinar allows participants to view the presentations and submit questions.

Steve Scheiblauer: State's ocean protection areas won't work

By Steve Scheiblauer, Santa Cruz Sentinel
November 1, 2009

Will the State's Marine Protected Areas be a model for dealing with threats from over-fishing, climate change and habitat destruction? No, and here's why.

A report by 21 international scientists studied the status of 10 large eco-systems. They found our California current eco-system to be the best managed. The likelihood of having sustainable fisheries here was 95 percent, confirming what NOAA says: West Coast fisheries are sustainable.

These results were through 2006, before the new California MPAs were created. The lead author of the report, Dr. Ray Hilborn, stated that the California MPAs do not significantly contribute to overall eco-system health, and, the California MPA network creates only "the illusion of protection." By the state auditor's own calculation, this illusion of protection will cost taxpayers between $35 million and $55 million per year for enforcement and monitoring.

It is true that in the state's network of small MPAs there may be more and larger fish, and biodiversity may increase. However, the MPAs won't protect against other forces, including global warming, ocean acidification, natural oceanographic changes, and the degree to which other predators move into the MPAs to take advantage of increased abundance.

According to sanctuary information, only five of 11 fished species were more abundant inside two long established state MPAs in Central California than outside. The difference in abundance with these five species was also quite small. It will be impossible to measure the effects of these MPAs on the eco-system as there are too many variables.

Modern eco-system based management takes into account all the dynamics of nature, and all human management and uses. Humans and human needs are part of the eco-system, and must be accounted for in eco-system based management.

The state refused to consider the existing fisheries management measures, including the very large federal MPAs already in place off Central California. The state told its science team to design a network that could stand alone, as if no other management existed. This is not eco-system based management.

Also, the socio-economic analysis on the effects of the MPAs was inadequate. A significant shortcoming was the failure to acknowledge the effects of displaced effort. Remember, MPAs don't reduce the number of fish caught, they merely dictate where they are caught. When fishermen are displaced by an MPA, they will concentrate their effort into the remaining open areas. The Central Coast MPAs took 45 percent of the prime habitat where the fish live, and focused the remaining fishing effort into open areas. The likely outcome is that the MPAs create areas where there are fish, but also create areas that may be overfished. This is hardly an example of eco-system based management.

Last, state MPAs were put into place with essentially no support from a primary stakeholder group, fishermen. This was not merely because of the economic impacts, but because experienced fishermen were aware that there was little eco-system benefit to the MPAs. There is widespread scientific agreement that community and stakeholder support are needed for MPAs to succeed.

An MPA network that truly had eco-system benefits could have been created, but the state made this process highly political, rushing and biasing the science. Don't you think the ocean and the public deserve better than this?

Steve Scheiblauer is the Monterey harbor master, and has been a representative in the state's efforts to implement the Marine Life Protection Act. He has lived in Santa Cruz for 38 years.