December 10, 2009
On Wednesday, December 9, California's Fish and Game Commission heard reports and recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) regarding the establishment of new marine protected areas (MPAs) along California's South Coast from Point Conception to the Mexican border in accordance with the state's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA).
The commission is responsible for determining which one of four MPA proposals submitted by the BRTF will be selected for the South Coast. The Partnership for Sustainable Oceans (PSO), a broad-based coalition of companies and associations representing recreational fishing and boating interests, is advocating for Proposal 2 because it provides a balanced approach based upon reliable science and a continuation of sound fisheries management policies which have resulted in the return of healthy fish populations and renewed ocean habitat off the California coastline. The BRTF submitted its own Integrated Preferred Alternative proposal.
Commission Vice President Richard Rogers, acting as chairperson in the absence of commission President Jim Kellogg, said, "The Commission takes the MLPA process very seriously. We have a multitude of things to consider and we will not rush this process. We're committed to being fully informed on all the issues which includes ample opportunity for the public to comment. I think it is safe to say that this deliberation process will extend well into the latter part of 2010."
The PSO supports Proposal 2 which provides significant additional conservation for California's ocean resources while minimizing the economic impact of lost fishing opportunity. The proposal was created by stakeholders who worked for 14 months through the Regional Stakeholder Group (RSG) process. Bob Fletcher, a PSO and RSG member and advisor to the Sportfishing Association of California said, "Proposal 2 is the real winner receiving strong cross-interest support in the RSG workgroup. We are all aware of the fiscal crisis facing California, and the reality is that Proposal 2 is the only MPA proposal that makes conservation and economic sense." Fletcher further said, "Anglers have always been on the forefront of recognizing when there are issues affecting the fisheries. A draconian system of MPAs penalizes conservation efforts and honest fishermen. The BRTF's Integrated Preferred Alternative proposal is a political deal. Proposal 2 is the real deal."
Patty Doerr, Ocean Resource Policy Director for the American Sportfishing Association, also a PSO member said, "At the end of this process, we hope that common sense, balanced with a concern for the potential economic impact on California's fragile economy and double-digit unemployment rate, will prevail."
California's Fish and Game Commission is scheduled for February 3-4, 2010, in Sacramento at the Resources Building Auditorium, 1416 Ninth Street.
Go to www.keepamericafishing.org for additional MLPA updates, sign-up for alerts and additional information about how to contact appropriate representatives.
Fletcher concluded, "I ask everyone to get involved and help save Southern California from unnecessary fishing closures and restricted public access."