Marine Life Protection Act Initiative

Tim KlassenMarine Protected Areas

From the HASA 2009 Summer Newsletter

Marine Life Protection Act Initiative
North Coast Public Open Houses

July 20: Eureka
Wharfinger Building
#1 Marina Way
Eureka, CA 95501

July 21: Fort Bragg
Dana Gray Elementary School
1197 Chestnut Street
Fort Bragg, CA 95437

July 22: Crescent City
Cultural Center
1001 Front Street
Crescent City, CA 95531

by Tim Klassen

Well, it’s here. The Marine Life Protection Act, a law intended to place a network of marine reserves, has arrived on the North Coast.
Most of these reserves will be “no fishing” zones. Since the reserves occur in state waters, recreational anglers will suffer the most from these closures.
Recently, local politicians, scientists and harbor districts signed a letter to the governor questioning the science being used for reserve placement and the cost of monitoring and enforcement of reserves.
As fishermen, we must insist that funding is available and that only good science is used. We will need to be involved in the MLPA process by attending meetings and writing letters to make sure that our voice is heard loud and clear.
The first meetings are starting this month so plan on attending if you can.

From the HASA 2009 Fall Newsletter

Marine Life Protection Act Initiative
By Tim Klassen – Vice President HASA

By now most of you have heard of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI). It is a 1999 law that requires California to establish a network of Marine Reserves along its coastline. These reserves are to be placed according to the “best readily available science”. For the first few years the initiative languished due to a lack of state funds. But along came a group of pro-reserve environmental organizations to join with the state to fund the process. The State and the Resource Legacy Foundation Fund (RLFF) formed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to outline how the law would be instituted. Coastside Fishing Club filed a lawsuit challenging the use of private money and lost. This is also about when the Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) was born. The BRTF was not part of the original legislation but was included in the MOU. It gets more confusing (with more acronyms). The law requires public participation so a Regional Stakeholder Group (RSG) was formed in each area. To ensure that the “best readily available science” is used, a Science Advisory Team (SAT) was also formed. So, with the help of the SAT the RSG makes proposals to the BRTF who review and sometimes manipulate the proposals before sending a recommendation to the California Fish and Game Commission. The Fish and Game Commission is the final word and they vote on the proposals and adopt the winner. There has been a lot of questionable politics after the proposals leave the RSG. The BRTF is made up of appointees by the governor. They include a marina developer and an oil lobbyist.

So what is next for us? The MLPA has completed the south central and north central coast and is nearing completion of the south coast. The MLPA has had a couple of informational meetings here on the North Coast already. The next meetings are currently scheduled for October 28th and November 17th. Those dates may change. The MLPAI staff should request stakeholder nominations in late October with the deadline for nominations in late November. They are requesting that groups submitting external proposals declare their intent by early November and to submit external MPA arrays by mid December. These timelines may change, however.

So what are we doing about it here? HASA directors recently voted to join the California Fisheries Coalition. The coalition will include local and national recreational fishing organization, commercial fishing organizations, aqua culture, charter boat organizations, and conservation groups. Go to their website at to learn more. It is in our best interest to work with other organizations and other communities to maximize our voice and minimize loss of access to our ocean resources. The CFC will begin working on an external proposal very soon.

Here’s what YOU can do. Tell your friends and neighbors that California Coastal fisheries on the North Coast are some of the LEAST exploited fisheries in the world. That the current fishing regulations are working. That the north coast cannot afford to lose fishing jobs and that fishing is a large part of the North Coast heritage. Your heritage. Tell your state representatives that fishing is important to you and your family. Tell them that you fish, you vote and you have a long memory.