Monday, January 25, 2010

Supes to give Humboldt Bay's MLPA efforts Headwaters funding

By Donna Tam, Eureka Times-Standard
January 18, 2010

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors may financially support a study about the potentially negative impact the California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) would have on the local community.

The board will vote on the $50,000 Headwaters Fund grant to the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District's proposed pre-MLPA study on Tuesday.

The board will also discuss entering into an agreement with the Harbor District to provide staff and organizational assistance for any MLPA-related coastal projects.

The MLPA aims to set up a network of marine reserves meant to protect different habitats along the California coast, such as rocky areas and kelp forests, as well as the species that live in them.

The process has been controversial in other areas of the state, and in the North Coast study area essentially every elected body has expressed concerns about the potential for the process to harm the region's economy and way of life.

According to a staff report, the Headwaters Board is recommending the grant because the analysis being done for the MLPA will not consider the economic impacts beyond the dock, including dock activities, processing, or fishing industry-related products.

The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District is trying to contract with a company, Impact Assessment Inc., to do a report that will detail current socioeconomic trends, conditions and the effects the MLPA would have on commercial and recreational fishing sectors and associated businesses and communities.
The Harbor District requested almost $200,000 from the Headwaters Fund to cover the entire cost of the report, but the Headwaters Board is asking the district to pursue other funding sources as well.

The Headwaters grant will pay for the first phase of the study, which will characterize the existing socioeconomic conditions as they relate to the fishing industry.

The Headwaters Fund is also recommending the approval of three other grants totaling about $80,000. The fund

is recommending awarding about $16,000 to the Humboldt County Agriculture, Nature and Heritage Tourism Project, about $16,000 to the Mattole Diversified Economy Project, and $48,000 to the Eel River Digital Media Academy.

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