By John Driscoll, Eureka Times-Standard
January 20, 2010
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved partial funding of a project to measure the anticipated social and economic effects of the Marine Life Protection Act on the North Coast.
Supervisors approved $50,000 to go to the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District to look into the value of fishing along the coast, a project to help gauge the impacts of forming marine reserves here. The Harbor District, which is coordinating a large group of governments, tribes and stakeholders, had asked for nearly $200,000 from the Headwaters Fund Community Investment Fund.
But the Headwaters Fund Board said it wanted the district to show that it had more matching funds for the study and more public support before funding the remainder of the request. It approved $50,000 in funding. Supervisors on Tuesday approved that amount for the first phase of the study and asked the Headwaters Fund Board to consider the remainder of the request at its Feb. 16 meeting.
Harbor District Executive Officer Dave Hull voiced concern about the tight timeline set up by the state for developing the network of marine reserves, and said that it's vital the North Coast be able to show how they will affect the economy and way of life here.
Hull laid out a slate of other grants the district earned to look into the status of fish populations on the North Coast and to help develop proposed marine protected areas. That funding totals about $250,000.
”It's all one big package,” Hull said. “We need all of that information.”
The MLPA aims to set up a network of marine reserves meant to protect habitat and species along the California coast. In the North Coast study area, nearly every elected body has expressed concerns about the potential for the process to harm the region's economy and way of life.
”There will be damage done to the coastal fisheries, that's for sure,” said 1st District Supervisor Jimmy Smith.
Supervisors also approved an agreement among counties, tribes, cities and special districts to coordinate efforts regarding the Marine Life Protection Act. The board is asking for applications from those interested in serving on the North Coast Local Agency Coastal Coordination Committee for up to three years. Two representatives for the county are expected to be chosen at the Feb. 8 supervisors' meeting.