Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Former Congressman Dan Hamburg Slams MLPA Initiative

Dan Hamburg took aim at the MLPA process in an outstanding letter he wrote to the Anderson Valley Advertiser.

By Dan Bacher, IndyBay
February 16, 2010

Dan Hamburg, a North Coast Democratic Congressman from 1992-94 and a Green Party candidate for Governor in 1998, recently blasted Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's fast-track Marine Life Protection (MLPA) process for its many conflicts of interests, private funding and other problems in a great letter to the editor he wrote to the Anderson Valley Advertiser in Boonville.

"Coastal residents — including fishermen, divers and gatherers — have joined together to protest the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI). There is plenty of reason to protest," Hamburg said in his letter,, entitled, "What Protection?"

He then summarized some of the key criticisms made against the MLPA process. The implementation of the MLPA, a law passed in 1999 to protect ocean ecosystems, has become a surrealistic parody of "protection" under the Schwarzenegger administration.

"Jim Martin, vice president of the Salmon Restoration Federation, the Recreation Fishing Association and a member of the Mendocino County Fish and Game Commission, has pointed out many of the foibles of the MLPAI," said Hamburg. "Special interest groups, unaccountable to elected officials, dominate the process. Key policy decisions are made by private foundations rather than the public. And, at a time when the state is broke, Martin asks who will pick up the tab to police a large number of underwater parks."

Hamburg noted how Cindy Arch, a longtime ocean preservation leader, is also disturbed that the MLPAI is being funded “by the charitable arms of huge businesses.” "She foresees aquaculture (farmed fish) as a real possibility for the coast if the initiative isn’t stopped," said Hamburg.

"Author, activist and businessman John Lewallen’s critique is perhaps the most devastating. He sees the MLPAI as a diversion from the real prize — offshore oil," emphasized Hamburg. "He reminds us that while it was during the George W. years that the possibility of drilling off the Mendocino coast reemerged, the Obama administration has done nothing to reinstate a moratorium on the Outer Continental Shelf."

Hamburg said that Lewallen’s concern was "recently amplified" by the appointment of Catherine Reheis-Boyd to the MLPAI’s Blue Ribbon Task Force for the MLPA's North Coast Study Region, a group of supposedly “knowledgeable and highly credible public leaders” selected by Mike Chrisman, Schwarzenegger’s Secretary of Natural Resources. Reheis-Boyd, after serving as chief operating officer and chief of staff of the Western States Petroleum Association, became the association's president on January 1, 2010.

In August, Chrisman selected Reheis Boyd to be the chair of the Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast. She also served on the task force for the North Central Coast, helping to engineer a process that will ban the Kashia Pomo Indian Tribe and other tribes from harvesting seaweed, mussels and abalone as they have done for centuries off Stewarts Point and Point Arena starting April 1.

"I urge everyone in Mendocino County to become familiar with the MLPAI and the process currently underway for the area from Point Arena to the Oregon border," Hamburg concluded. "A good place to start is with Frank Hartzell’s excellent series that ran in the Fort Bragg Advocate-News last summer. Additional information is available on the Albion Harbor Regional Alliance website at"

Hamburg is a well respected North Coast political leader, environmental advocate and writer. While in Congress, Hamburg authored the Headwaters Forest Act, a bill that passed the House overwhelmingly. After leaving Congress, he was active in the struggle to preserve the 60,000 acre Headwaters Forest Complex.

Since 1997, Hamburg has served as Executive Director of Voice of the Environment, a 501 (c-3) not-for-profit Montana-based corporation formed in 1991. The group's mission is to "educate the public regarding the transfer of public trust assets into private, mostly corporate, hands."

Hamburg is now running for the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. He was on the board from 1981 to 1985.

Hamburg joins a growing group of environmentalists, Indian Tribes, commercial fishermen, recreational anglers and elected officials that are challenging Schwarzenegger's MLPA process for its conflicts of interests, mission creep and corruption of the democratic process.

In December, Organic Sacramento, a local environmental and sustainable food group, co-sponsored the "Organic Capital Celebration of Sustainability" with Friends of the River to honor individuals and organizations for their outstanding work on crucial water issues, including the campaigns to restore the Delta and stop the peripheral canal, to stop the Nestle Water Plant in Sacramento and for environmental justice under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA).

The groups honored Atta P. Stephenson, traditional North Coast tribal seaweed harvester, for her dedication to defending tribal fishing and seaweed harvesting rights under the MLPA process, as well as for her many efforts on behalf on environmental water justice. Kim Glazzard of Organic Sacramento also recognized Vern Goehring of the California Fisheries Coalition and Edwin Nieves of the Mendocino Seaweed Stewardship Alliance for the great work they have done to fight for the rights of sustainable fishermen and seaweed harvesters under threat by the MLPA initiative.

The North Coast MLPA process is in its initial stages. The recently appointed MLPA stakeholder group held its first meeting in Eureka on February 7 and 8.

The group includes 32 residents of Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties within the MLPA North Coast Study Region, which encompasses state waters from the California-Oregon border to Alder Creek near Point Arena in Mendocino County. The stakeholder group includes "representatives of recreational angling and diving groups, tribes, commercial fishing and other ocean-dependent business interests, ports and harbors, conservation groups, educational and research interests, and government agencies," according to a news release from the MLPA Initiative.

Real environmentalists oppose the attempt by Schwarzenegger and his collaborators to kick commercial fishermen, tribal seaweed harvesters, commercial seaweed harvesters and recreational anglers and divers off public trust ocean waters to clear a path for offshore oil rigs, wave energy projects and corporate aquaculture. They support those who are fighting for social and environmental justice both inside and outside of the MLPA process.

Local fishermen named to MLPA group

Ukiah Daily Journal
February 16, 2010

Jim Bassler, a Mendocino County commercial fisherman, has been added to the Marine Life Protection Act North Coast Regional Stakeholder Group. The stakeholder group is responsible for developing recommendations for alternative marine protected areas to help the State of California implement the Marine Life Protection Act.

There was a local push to get someone from this county in a position on the stakeholder list and calls and letters went to the director of Fish and Game, John McCamman, and the chairwoman of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force, Cindy Gustafson, to request more representation of commercial fishing interests in the Mendocino County area.

Members of the stakeholder group are intended to help ensure that multiple perspectives are heard as the state prepares to close off new ocean areas for protection.

"Bassler has the experience and ability to reach out and include not only commercial fishing interests but also the interests of all communities along the Mendocino coastline," Gustafson said.

Bassler is a small-boat fisherman who fishes primarily for nearshore rockfish, crab and salmon along the Mendocino coast; he a member of the Salmon Trollers Marketing Association in Fort Bragg.

Bassler's addition brings the stakeholder group to a total of 32 residents of Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties within the MLPA North Coast Study Region, which encompasses state waters from the California-Oregon border to Alder Creek near Point Arena in Mendocino County.

The stakeholder group will work with a blue ribbon task force, science advisory team, and MLPA staff to help California improve the design and management of the north coast portion of a statewide network of marine protected areas.

Meetings have begun, the first of which were held in Eureka at the beginning of February.

Fore more information about the MLPA Initiative, please visit

Officials show concern

By Barbara Diamond, Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot
February 11, 2010

Emergency actions taken by the City Council at the Feb. 2 meeting reflected city officials’ concerns about the health of Laguna’s coastal waters and its denizens.

The council voted unanimously to direct the city manager to ensure that a city staff member of his choice or an elected official would attend hearings that pertain to the council majority’s support for a citywide marine reserve and to endorse a federal grant to restore the abalone population along Laguna’s shoreline.

Councilwoman Jane Egly sponsored the addition of the item titled “State Marine Reserve” and Mayor Pro Tem Toni Iseman introduced the item “Application for a Federal Grant to Support Abalone Revitalization.”

Both items were added to the agenda on a 4-1 vote. Councilman Kelly Boyd voted against the addition of both items because he did not see them until 1 p.m. the afternoon of the meeting and felt the public did not have time to respond to the proposals.

Although Boyd seconded the motion on Egly’s recommendation, he said his support was limited to Egly’s position that City Manager Ken Frank is the person to pick who goes to what meetings to represent the city.

“I am still absolutely opposed to the reserve,” Boyd said Wednesday.

Representation at state hearings

Egly agreed that Boyd supported her opposition to a suggestion by Councilwoman Verna Rollinger that the city’s marine safety officer be assigned to attend the meetings.

“It is my understanding that what Kelly supported was the recommendation that the city manager direct who goes to Fish and Game [hearings],” Egly said. “I don’t believe at all that he was supporting the city’s position on this [reserve] issue.”

Egly, Boyd and Mayor Elizabeth Pearson opined that the council should not usurp the city manager’s authority over staff assignments.

City employees have assigned duties that could conflict with meeting dates, Frank said. Besides, he said, sometimes it was more appropriate for the mayor or an elected official to represent the city at public meetings.

Frank added that he had tried to find out when or if the Fish and Game Commission would be considering the Laguna Beach Marine Reserve, but was unsuccessful. It is also possible that the Orange County Task Force that developed proposals for South County could be reconvened.

“We need to know what meetings are coming up and what person is appropriate to attend them,” Pearson said.

Egly said that was the substance of her motion.

Laguna resident Fred Sattler urged the council to appoint a member of the Marine Life Protection Act process to represent the city.

“We need someone who was part of the process,” Sattler said. “We need someone who can say why Laguna Beach was chosen as a reserve and why it should be the length of the city.”

During public comment, South Laguna resident Barbara Pincheny claimed scare tactics were being used to turn the public against the reserve, which is favored by many environmentalists.

Bill Shedd, who conducted the store-front collection of signatures of local voters opposed to the reserve, said less than 50 of the people he personally spoke to out of the 1,900 signators agreed with the council’s position.

“The majority of folks who live here aren’t in favor of what the city [council] is doing and I am having a tough time with spending money on something people don’t want,” Shedd said, referring to the cost of sending a representative to the meetings.

Boyd noted that the Fish and Game Commission indicated that a final decision on the marine reserve designation would be a lengthy process, and a decision might not be reached until the fall.

Abalone restoration sought

Iseman brought the second item to the council: sponsorship of a $200,000 grant application for a project to increase the diminishing number of abalone off Laguna’s shores.

She said Nancy Caruso, known as the Kelp Lady, would be responsible for most of the work related to the application. The grant application must be submitted through a municipal, county or state government, according to a staff report.

Caruso reported that the program would involve local schools and other organizations in planting up to 1,000 abalone per year.

Boyd took issue with the report, which outlines the history of California’s once-abundant abalone population, and states that the abalones were decimated by commercial fishing after the 1950s.

“Many abalones were killed through withered foot disease, not just taking by humans,” Boyd said.

Mendocino County Asks for More Local Representation on MLPA Panel

By Dan Bacher, IndyBay
February 11, 2010

The Mendocino County of Supervisors has told state officials overseeing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's controversial Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative that more representation of the diverse interests found in the county is needed on the Regional Stakeholder Group (RSG).

"We are concerned that the slate of RSG appointees for Mendocino County does not adequately represent the diverse interests of our county," said Carre Brown, chair of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, in a February 9 letter to California Department of Fish and Game Director John McCamman and MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force Chair Cindy Gustafson.

"The appointment of additional stakeholders, representing critical interests which currently appear underrepresented or completely omitted, will ensure that a more comprehensive cross-section of our community is able to participate in this process. This enhanced diversity will ultimately lead to a better final product," Brown stated.

Brown pointed out that the RSG appointments for Mendocino County now include 3 educators, 3 tribal representatives, 1 ornithologist, 1 commercial fisherman, and 3 individuals with experience in seaweed harvesting, sea urchin diving and processing, and recreational fishing.

The stakeholder group will work with a blue ribbon task force, science advisory team, and MLPA staff "to help California improve the design and management of the north coast portion of a statewide network of marine protected areas," according to Annie Reisewitz from the MLPA Initiative.

Brown charged that the southern portion of the County "has no representation." She urged McCamman and Gustafson to appoint RSG nominees, Mike Carpenter and Bruce Campbell, both of Albion, since they "have met or exceeded the RSG selection criteria."

She also criticized the lack of commercial fishing representatives from Mendocino County. After receiving many letters from local residents, the MLPA staff finally appointed Jim Bassler, a commercial fisherman from Fort Bragg, to the panel on February 6.
"Even with the MLPAI's recent nomination of Jim Bassler, there is limited Mendocino County representation for commercial crab, salmon, and nearshore permit holders," said Brown. "Stakeholders with this unique background have invaluable knowledge regarding seasonal trends in fish and invertebrate populations (abundance and distribution), and rare oceanic events typically experienced only by individuals actively working in the commercial sector."

She urged the two officials to appoint RSG nominee Tom Estes, a commercial groundfish and large boat crab fisherman, to fill this gap in representation.

Finally, Brown noted that Del Norte and Humboldt County Harbor District are represented on the RSG, while Mendocino County's Noyo Harbor District is inexplicably not.

"This representation on the RSG could be attained through the appointment of Jim Burns, Noyo Harbor Commissioner, or a similar delegate," she said.

The Fort Bragg City Council on February 10 also sent a letter to Gustafson and McCamman requesting them to appoint a member of the RSG from the Albion area. "Four persons from that port followed the nomination process set out by the MLPAI, and all were passed over," wrote Doug Hammerstrom, Mayor, Dave Turner, Vice Mayor, Meg Courtney, Council Member, Dan Gjerde, Council Member, and Jere Melo, Council Member.

The Council disputed the MLPA staff's claims that the process is "open and transparent," when they believe the process is in fact plagued with a lack of transparency and bias.

"The MLPAI staff has repeatedly praised the process as being public and open," the letter stated. "Yet there are many deviations from the announced process. For the North Coast RSG, a specific process with deadlines was established for nominatinos, interviews and appointments."

The Council emphasized that this process was not used in the appointment of some RSG members, pointing to "a lack of transparency and bias that undermines the integrity of the entire MLPA."

"This is a very serious problem," they concluded, "and the MLPAI will continue to suffer from a lack of public trust until a truly open and public process that considers local communities is imposed."

The stakeholder group currently includes total of 32 residents of Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties within the MLPA North Coast Study Region, which encompasses state waters from the California-Oregon border to Alder Creek near Point Arena in Mendocino County. The first meeting of the stakeholder group was held in Eureka on February 7 and 8.

North Coast environmentalists, fishermen, Indian Tribes and seaweed harvesters have strongly criticized the MLPA process for being rife with conflicts of interests, mission creep and corruption of the democratic process. Many believe that Schwarzenegger and his collaborators are using the MLPA Initiative to remove tribal seaweed gatherers, recreational anglers, commercial seaweed harvesters and commercial fishermen, the greatest advocates for the preservation and restoration of ocean fisheries, to clear a path for offshore oil rigs, wave energy projects and corporate aquaculture.

The MPLA, a state law passed in 1999 with support from a broad coalition of environmentalists and fishermen, has under Schwarzeneggger become a surrealistic parody of marine "protection," with oil industry, real estate, marina development and other corporate interests overseeing the process, critics of the initiative charge.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Stakeholder group enters MLPA process

By John Driscoll, Eureka Times-Standard
February 9, 2010

A 32-member group of people representing North Coast and state interests in the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative met for the first time Monday in front of video cameras and big screens connected to a dock of laptop computers.

The kickoff of three Regional Stakeholder Group meetings was meant to introduce the members to the process of developing marine reserves -- or Marine Protected Areas -- off the North Coast. Initiative staff told the group that they were chosen because they are believed to be good listeners committed to finding common ground.

"This is heavy lifting,” said MLPA Initiative Executive Director Ken Wiseman. “This is passionate.”

The planning process for the 1999 act is just beginning in the fourth of five regions, this time in state waters along the coast of Humboldt, Del Norte and Mendocino counties. The act calls for a coordinated network of zones that are off limits or restricted to fishing and gathering, and has been a major source of controversy among fishing and tribal communities along the California coast.

The beginning of the two-day meeting at the Red Lion Hotel was meant to establish some ground rules and lay out procedures the group will be following. The group is charged with sending along a small number of proposals -- or “arrays” -- to a Blue Ribbon Task Force, which will make recommendations to the state Fish and Game Commission, which is scheduled to make a final decision in December. Along the way, a Science Advisory Team will review the proposals.

The diverse interests, competing uses and different expectations of those in the group will make the process challenging, said MLPA Initiative Program Manager Melissa Miller-Henson.

"Challenges are actually opportunities in disguise,” Miller-Henson said.

Miller-Henson said that the group is not meeting to debate the merits for the MLPA or the usefulness of MPAs, or to identify a certain percentage of state waters that should be included in MPAs.

Eight different arrays have been submitted to the initiative and are undergoing a technical review. A proposal submitted by the North Coast Interest MPA Work Group calls for a handful of marine protected areas that it believes will minimize economic harm to fishing, gathering and traditional tribal uses. Others range from fewer areas with less restrictions to more MPAs with a higher level of protection.

There are three basic types of MPAs. A marine reserve is the most restrictive, allowing no extractive activities. A state marine park limits all commercial fishing and gathering and can restrict recreational fishing and gathering. A state marine conservation area puts special restrictions on, but allows, both commercial and sport fishing and gathering.

Recently appointed Blue Ribbon Task Force member Jimmy Smith, also Humboldt County's 1st District supervisor, welcomed the group. He said that the expertise of the individuals on the stakeholder group will guide and inform the task force through a project of great magnitude and complexity.

"You are in the lead,” Smith said.

The Regional Stakeholder Group is expected to meet again in May.

Mix-up to begin for MLPA proposals

By John Driscoll, Eureka Times-Standard
February 7, 2010

A number of proposals to create marine reserves off the North Coast have gone into the blender, as a 31-member group formed under the state Marine Life Protection Act Initiative meets for the first time on Monday.

A group of local stakeholders and conservationists say their proposals are meant to soften the economic and social blow anticipated with the shutting down or restricting fishing and gathering in some areas along the sparsely populated coast. But while several proposals are roughly similar, few of them appear to meet the guidelines set up by the 1999 act.

That means that whatever comes out of the mix over the next year is likely to be more restrictive than what local interests have proposed. The initiative's staff are currently reviewing the submissions, which are expected to be made public on Feb. 16.

Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District Conservation Director Adam Wagschal said that each type of reserve proposed in various coastal habitats is added up to meet the state's requirements. Wagschal coordinated the proposal submitted by the North Coast Local Interest MPA Working Group -- composed of local agencies, commercial and sport fishing and other stakeholders from Humboldt, Del Norte and Mendocino counties.

"Everything contributes a certain amount toward meeting the guidelines,” Wagschal said.

According to those guidelines, each marine reserve should stretch along at least 3 to 6 miles of coast, but preferably be 6 to 12.5 miles long. They should also be within 31 to 62 miles of each other. That's based on the idea that larvae from fish and other organisms can travel between reserves.

The guidelines have been challenged by local fisheries biologists who say the North Coast's habitats and currents are different than the rest of the state's, and should be treated differently. They also cite existing closures and fishing regulations that currently limit fishing in both state and federal waters in the region, much of which is inaccessible due to weather for large portions of the year.

The North Coast is the fourth of five regions in which the MLPA has planned marine protected areas -- or MPAs -- which range from restricting all fishing and harvesting of shellfish and seaweed to allowing some commercial fishing and gathering. The reserves are in state waters, which go out 3 miles along California's 1,100-mile coastline.

The first set of reserves proposed by the North Coast interest group calls for a 21-square-mile reserve from the Del Norte County line to just south of the mouth of the Smith River. Moving south, another marine reserve is proposed for the area north of Reading Rock, and butts up against a marine conservation area in shallower waters to the east. Commercial crab fishing would be allowed in the conservation area. Much of the reserve area around the rock is already off limits to rockfish fishing, which can't be done in water deeper than 120 feet.

The next reserve to the south is a special marine recreational management area pitched for the southwestern portion of Humboldt Bay. This encompasses much of the bay's important eel grass habitat and estuaries flowing into South Bay, but hunting and clamming would be allowed.

A 13.2-square-mile marine conservation area is proposed for the area around the mouth of the Eel River, where crabbing would still be allowed but salmon trolling in shallow water could be restricted. An existing rockfish conservation area at Punta Gorda would effectively be expanded to a marine reserve of 19.4 square miles on either side of the mouth of the Mattole River, under the proposal.

The North Coast group opted not to propose any MPAs around Shelter Cove, Wagschal said, out of concern that the small fishing community could suffer disproportionately from any further restriction.

Tim Klassen, who runs the charter operation Reel Steel Sportfishing out of Eureka, said that the proposal for the most part avoids major losses to sport fishing along the coast. Klassen said he believes it fulfills the spirit of the MLPA while leaving most valuable fishing areas open. But it's no cause for celebration, Klassen said, as the process to form MPAs is just getting started.

“Are we excited about it?” Klassen said. “No.”

A series of meetings of the 31-member regional stakeholder group will be held over the next several months to hammer out proposals -- or “arrays” -- to be sent to the state's Blue Ribbon Task Force. It will develop a set of proposals in March, narrow them down in May, and select one to three arrays in September. A Science Advisory Team will review the proposals along the way.

"There's a whole lot of opportunity between February and September for the public to be actively involved in providing input,” said initiative Program Manager Melissa Miller-Henson.

That group will make final recommendations to the Blue Ribbon Task Force, which will then select a preferred proposal to send to the California Fish and Game Commission, which is expected to receive the proposal in December.

Environmental groups Humboldt Baykeeper and the Ocean Conservancy have proposed a similar set of reserves for the North Coast, with some exceptions. They have proposed a conservation area off False Cape just north of the Klamath River mouth, and an addition to the one proposed for the west side of Reading Rock. The North Coast group's reserve off Punta Gorda is a conservation area in the environmental group's proposal, and is shifted slightly south.

The MPAs proposed by the North Coast group would allow traditional tribal uses, hunting and gathering for cultural, subsistence and ceremonial purposes. Yurok Tribe Acting Self-Governance Officer Megan Rocha said that the tribe saw a lot of support in the community, but questioned whether the state would be satisfied with the exceptions. If the language isn't accepted, Rocha said, the tribe won't support any MPA in Yurok ancestral territory.

"There's still quite a bit of work to be done to make sure that tribal uses along the coast are not affected in any way,” she said.

The Humboldt Baykeeper and Ocean Conservancy proposals calls for only conservation areas, the least restrictive type of MPA. That is a difference in approach taken by the North Coast group and the environmental groups in trying to protect American Indian traditional fishing and gathering uses along the coast.

Ocean Conservancy spokeswoman Jennifer Savage said there is not a clear method for allowing tribal uses laid out in the MLPA. She said the difference between the two groups' proposals doesn't represent a difference in intent, but rather in approach.

Savage said the conservation groups pitched a separate proposal to include other areas in the mix in an effort to meet state guidelines, not because there was a major disagreement on what areas should be MPA's.

"These are just conversation starters,” Savage said. “Nobody is looking at it like an absolute.”

There are also several other proposals for MPAs along the North Coast, some of which pitch smaller and less restrictive zones and others which look to create larger but less restrictive areas.

The end product is also likely to change substantially as different organizations, including major environmental organizations, weigh in. The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Mendocino Chapter of the Sierra Club have proposed a series of MPAs which they say fully protect 8 percent of state waters and partially protect 9 percent of state waters between the Oregon border and Punta Gorda. Their proposal is focused on several areas to the south of Punta Gorda.

The two groups' maps of the reserves have been forwarded to the initiative, but are not yet available for viewing on an MLPA clearinghouse Web site.

Even with the North Coast working group's relatively light-touch proposal, commercial fishermen say they've made major concessions. The Pelican Bay reserve area is in significant Dungeness crabbing grounds, for example, and crabbing is the most valuable fishery the North Coast fleet has left. Humboldt Fisherman's Marketing Association President Aaron Newman said that the local groups have worked well together in drafting the proposals -- but that the association can't sign off on them, even though it helped create the North Coast working group draft.

"We're going to lose,” Newman said. “Why would anyone endorse a loss?”

MLPA Initiative Announces New Member of Stakeholder Group

By Dan Bacher, IndyBay
February 7, 2010

Under political pressure from North Coast fishermen and environmentalists, California’s MLPA Initiative staff on Saturday, February 6 announced that Jim Bassler, a Mendocino County commercial fisherman, has been added to the MLPA North Coast Regional Stakeholder Group.

The stakeholder group is responsible for developing recommendations for "alternative marine protected areas" to help the State of California implement Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's controversial fast-track Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process.

"This past week, many citizens contacted the director of Fish and Game, John McCamman, and the chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force, Cindy Gustafson, to request more representation of commercial fishing interests in the Mendocino County area," according to Annie Reisewitz from the MLPA Initiative.

"Members of the stakeholder group are intended to help ensure that multiple perspectives are heard in the MLPA Initiative’s marine protected area planning process," Reisewitz stated. "Jim Bassler has the experience and ability to reach out and include not only commercial fishing interests but also the interests of all communities along the Mendocino coastline. Bassler is a small-boat fisherman who fishes primarily for nearshore rockfish, crab and salmon along the Mendocino coast; he a member of the Salmon Trollers Marketing Association in Fort Bragg."

Bassler’s addition brings the stakeholder group to a total of 32 residents of Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties within the MLPA North Coast Study Region, which encompasses state waters from the California-Oregon border to Alder Creek near Point Arena in Mendocino County.

The stakeholder group will work with a blue ribbon task force, science advisory team, and MLPA staff "to help California improve the design and management of the north coast portion of a statewide network of marine protected areas," said Reisewitz. The first meeting of the stakeholder group is Monday, Feb. 7 and Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2010 at the Red Lion Inn, 1929 Fourth Street in Eureka.

"We're pleased that Jim Bassler was appointed," said Jim Martin, the Mendocino County MLPA Outreach Coordinator. "He was one of the people nominated by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to be on the stakeholders group. However, there are still gaps in representation from Mendocino County."

For example, there are no representatives from Albion Harbor or from grassroots ocean protection groups, such as Judith Vidaver, chair of the Ocean Protection Coalition. "We hope the initiative staff fills these gaps," said Martin.

Collectively, the stakeholder group members represent "broad interests and perspectives" from the states north coast region, from the border with Oregon to the Point Arena area in Mendocino County, according to a Department of Fish and Game news release. The stakeholder group includes representatives of recreational angling and diving groups, tribes, commercial fishing and other ocean-dependent business interests, ports and harbors, conservation groups, educational and research interests, and government agencies.

Critics of Schwarzenegger's MLPA process have charged that the process is rife with conflicts of interest, mission creep and the corruption of the democratic process and violates tribal sovereignty by not considering traditional seaweed gathering and fishing rights.

For more information about the MLPA Initiative, please visit

Below is the list of members of the stakeholders group prior to the addition of the new member:

California Marine Life Protection Act Initiative

Members of the North Coast Regional Stakeholder Group
Revised January 27, 2010

Steve Chaney, Superintendent, Redwood National Park

Russ Crabtree, Tribal Administrator, Smith River Rancheria

Greg Dale, Southwest Operations Manager, Coast Seafood Company

John Dixon, Ecologist, California Coastal Commission
Henry “Ben” Doane, board member, Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers and Klamath Management Zone Fisheries Coalition
Brandi Easter, member, Humboldt Skin Divers

Don Gillespie, retired teacher and board member, Friends of Del Norte and Smith River Alliance

Benjamin Henthorne, Environmental Coordinator, Hopland Band of Pomo Indians

Jacque Hostler, Chief Executive Officer and Transportation & Land-Use Director, Trinidad Rancheria

Robert Jamgochian, educator, Mendocino High School of Natural Resources

Dave Jensen, President, Mendocino Coast Audubon Society

Tim Klassen, Owner, Reel Steel Sportfishing

Larry Knowles, Owner, Rising Tide Sea Vegetables

Zack Larson, Consultant, Zack Larson and Associates and Chair, Del Norte County Fish and Game Advisory Commission

William Lemos, retired teacher and consultant, Natural Resources Defense Council

Kevin McGrath, member, Shelter Cove Fisherman’s Alliance

Kevin McKernan, California Program Director, National Conservation System Foundation

Aaron Newman, President, Humboldt Fisherman’s Marketing Association

Pete Nichols, Executive Director, Humboldt Baykeeper

Charlie Notthoff, Owner, Nothoff Underwater Service

Megan Rocha, Assistant Self Governance Officer, Yurok Tribe

Jennifer Savage, North Coast Program Coordinator, The Ocean Conservancy

Valerie Stanley, member, Noyo River Indian Community

Atta Stevenson, Acting President, Inter-Tribal Council of California and member, Laytonville Rancheria

Thomas Trumper, Owner/diver, Pacific Rim Seafood

Adam Wagschal, Conservation Director, Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District

Rob Wakefield, member, Del Norte Fisherman’s Marketing Association

Reweti Wiki, Tribal Administrator, Elk Valley Rancheria

Harold Wollenberg, professional geologist

David Wright, member, NorCal Kayak Anglers and Vice Chair, Surfrider Foundation’s Mendocino Chapter

Richard Young, Chief Executive Officer and Harbormaster, Crescent City Harbor District

MPA plans due Monday

Groups are trying to reach an accord on restricted areas

By Kurt Madar, The Daily Triplicate
February 01, 2010

Marine protected areas are coming to the North Coast, and a local effort to influence where and what size they are culminates Monday.

The MPAs could include the establishment of no-take zones for fishermen.

The state-sponsored Marine Life Protection Act Initiative includes an option that allows MPA proposals to be submitted by individuals and groups outside of the official process.

Meanwhile, part of the official process is forming a Science Advisory Team (SAT) and a Regional Stakeholder Group, both of which will be responsible for developing the state-sponsored proposal for the location and types of MPAs along the North Coast.

The names of the regional stakeholder group were released Thursday night.

External proposals for potential MPAs are developed by individuals and groups outside of the SAT or stakeholder group, and they have to be submitted by Feb. 1.

In response to the MLPA Initiative starting its process along the North Coast, local governments and organizations formed a work group in an effort to have a cohesive region-wide alternative proposal.

“We’ve been working non-stop to meet the deadline,”

said Zach Larson, Del Norte County’s work-group coordinator. “We were looking to have one external array proposal for the whole region, but now it looks like there may be as many as six.”

This was not due to a lack of cohesiveness in the North Coast effort to submit an external proposal, he said.

Larson said that the people on a tri-county work-group have not only worked well together, “they have been able to compromise and everyone learned a lot about working together as a region.”

“We invited all 18 groups that sent in an intent to submit (external proposal),” Larson said. “There were a lot of cross interests.”

Of the various external proposals that may be submitted Monday, Larson feels that the one that represents Del Norte County is as palatable as possible.

“Our goal was to meet all the science guidelines while limiting the effect on the local economy as much as possible,” Larson said.

Nine of the 31 members of the North Coast stakeholder group whose names were released Thursday are Del Norte County residents. The North Coast study region includes Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties.

Local members include:

• Redwood National Park Superintendent Steve Chaney
• Smith River Rancheria Tribal Administrator Russ Crabtree
• Smith River Alliance and Friends of Del Norte board member Don Gillespie
• Fisheries Biology consultant Zach Larson
• National Conservation System Foundation California Program Officer Kevin McKernan
• Yurok Tribe Assistant Self Governance Officer Megan Rocha
• Del Norte Fisherman’s Marketing Association member Rob Wakefield
• Elk Valley Rancheria Tribal Administrator Reweti Wiki
• Crescent City Harbormaster Richard Young

Another View: Wardens not staffed for sufficient enforcement

By Jerry Karnow, Special to The Sacramento Bee
January 31, 2010

California's Fish and Game wardens are responsible for enforcing fishing and hunting laws, and have jurisdiction over illegal water diversions and water pollution. Wardens are the front-line defense for all natural resources that belong to all 38 million Californians.

We are California's "environmental police." Shamefully, California has the "lowest ratio of wardens to population of any state or province in North America," as stated in The Bee article "Wildlife panel seeks furlough exception" (Capitol & California, Jan. 23).

It is impossible for the warden force to effectively enforce existing regulations, much less new regulations that the Fish and Game Commission approves over our objections. Many of the regulations approved by the commission will not protect the natural resources of California. They will serve only one purpose; they will stretch the warden force ever thinner, which will eventually result in another warden's on-duty injury or death.

We take no policy position on the Marine Life Protection Act. Yet the act is a hollow regulation and unenforceable. The Department of Fish and Game has reported to the commission that enforcement cost for the Marine Life Protection Act for the first year of implementation will be $27 million and annually thereafter, the cost for enforcement will be a minimum of $17 million. While it seeks to design Marine Protected Areas, my warden colleagues have a different meaning for "MPA" – we call them Marine Poaching Areas. Since the protection act closes productive fishing areas, poachers will know where to rape our resources, and they will know that there is unlikely to be any law enforcement presence or legal anglers present to turn in poachers.

The governor does not support wardens; his actions speak louder than words. He says he supports wardens but his Department of Personnel Administration opposes the warden request for severance from their current bargaining unit. He keeps wardens on furlough yet eliminates furloughs from non-sworn peace officers in our own bargaining unit.

Commissioner Richard Rogers of Fish and Game has approved new regulations knowing they cannot be enforced. Rogers said in the article that "I'm very disappointed the governor chose to restrict the amount of time that the wardens can put in." Hopefully, Rogers will change his position and oppose regulations placing additional duties upon wardens.

We truly appreciate the commission's letter to the governor. But, it is our hope the commission will back up its words with action, otherwise they are just words and meaningless echoes of the governor.

Save the Date! Fishermen's Cioppino Dinner at Portugese Hall March 13

The North Coast Fishing Association, in conjunction with the California Fisheries Coalition, will be hosting a family-style cioppino dinner on Saturday, March 13, at Portugese Hall in Fort Bragg. Doors open at 5 p.m., with a raffle, auction and no-host bar.

Proceeds support the engagement of the local fishing community in the MLPA process. The North Coast Fishing Association has been supporting a lawsuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for its lack of a comprehensive plan on wave energy projects.

Support your sustainable seafood providers and sample locally caught seafood. For more information, call (707) 964-3710. Tickets ($35 per person) are available at the Noyo Fishing Center and Redwood Liquors in Fort Bragg.

If you want to promote our local fishing communities, call us. We need donations of seafood, volunteers and raffle items.

Save the date and spread the word!

MLPAI: The Thousand-Year View

By John Lewallen, Public Ocean Access Network

The conflict between “conservationists” and “preservationists” as it shapes fisheries policy and law is analyzed by Laura L. Manning in her 1989 study focused on marine mammals. “Preservationism,” as practiced by the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI), exploits a culturally suicidal belief that human beings must be removed from the ocean food chain in order to keep fisheries from collapsing worldwide.

This belief is obviously untrue on California’s North Coast, where we have enjoyed two annual seasons of super-nutritious upwelling in the world’s cleanest and best-managed ocean fishery in the world.

Living with North Coast wild seaweed for thirty years, I see that in a thousand years the intertidal and nearshore ocean will always be a basic source of essential human nutrition. People will use the same access points, and the same fishing and diving areas, as have been used for the past thousand years.

Now the “preservationists” are so-called “environmentalists” who oppose the basic inspiration of the environmental movement: the truth that human beings are part of the Earth’s whole ecosystem. The protectionists fantasize a pristine, primordial ocean ecosystem without humans in it, much as the European invaders of North America fantasized an uninhabited, virgin wilderness.

The sea otter and harp seal are the preservation movement’s best money-producing poster children. The preservationists who drive the MLPAI are primarily funded by ocean industrialists: corporate money, coming through Packard and Pew, made anonymous by the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation.

Ocean industrialists and the new preservationists love each other, and they are leading the world on a suicidal quest to remove essential ocean food providers from the ocean food chain. The industrialists have bought a science to make a new marine management orthodoxy out of Marine Protected Areas, acting primarily through Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea (COMPASS).

In California today, the government is broke; the super-rich and big corporations have all the money. In the MLPAI process, the Pew-Packard-RLFF finances the Governor, the Legislators, the foundation-funded careerists in protectionist groups, the process itself, Fish & Game Commissioners, the mass media.

With a thousand-year eye, this attempt to impose no-take zones on North Coast fisheries is foredoomed. The people doing it are trying to cut themselves off from essential food for human health and survival. It won’t work here, not for long.