MLPA Report for HASA

Jim MartinMarine Protected Areas

From the HASA 2009 Winter Newsletter

2010 brings us the prospect of a long, difficult struggle with the Governor’s MLPA Initiative. HASA has been playing a key role in representing the interests of recreational anglers in the region. Along with every recreational and commercial fishing association in the north coast region, HASA has joined the California Fisheries Coalition to present a united front in the development of MPA regulations in the region. To find out more about the CFC, visit www.cafisheriescoalition.org. It is recommended that everyone sign up for the free news service through CFC’s “blog” and receive the latest published reports about the MLPA.

We are fortunate as a fishing community to enjoy the support of the three counties in the region. Because fishing is such an important contributor to the local economies of Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, the boards of supervisors, along with many local municipalities, signed on to a letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger asking for a delay in the implementation of the MLPA until there are adequate funds for the management of the new MPAs. This request was denied but it sent notice to the administration and the public that the north coast MLPA stakeholder process would take on a very different character than in other regions, where counties and cities routinely voted against fishing communities.

The Humboldt Harbor District has been playing an active role and has the support of the county board of supervisors and regional stakeholders as a clearinghouse for ideas for MPA proposals for the whole region. There is a strong consensus that a single unified proposal for the entire region, and Adam Wagschal, Conservation Director for the District, has been assigned a major role to collect proposals from local groups.

The idea is to develop a plan that minimizes the economic and social impacts to coastal communities while fulfilling the law. Fishermen are evenly divided as a group on the question of participating within the MLPA Initiative stakeholder process, or abandoning it to focus on legislative remedies, public outcry and even lawsuits.

The other major difference between the north coast and other regions has been the active participation of most of the federally-recognized Indian tribes. The tribes have resources and paid staff to engage in the MLPAi. Despite conflicts between the tribes on many resource issues, they have shown a remarkable unity on the question of MPAs. They have asked the Governor to initiate “government-to-government relations.” This means that any MPA in a tribal-use area would have to be approved by both the state Fish and Game Commission and the local tribal council. The State of California is resisting this and time will tell how this issue will be resolved.

HASA is nominating Ben Doane and Tim Klassen for the Regional Stakeholder Group. In Mendocino County, Jim Martin and David Wright have been nominated to the RSG and in Shelter Cove, Kevin McGrath has been nominated by locals and the RFA to serve as well. Brandi Easter, a Humboldt County recreational diver is also supported by the RFA. Appointments to the RSG will be announced in the end of January.

Recreational anglers and divers can express their viewpoints at any of the large number of public hearings held by the MLPAi. Here is a schedule of upcoming meetings:

January 13-14: Blue Ribbon Task Force meeting: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. (field trip) and Thursday, January 14 at 8:00 a.m.

Where: Elk Valley Rancheria Community Center
2332 Howland Hill Road
Crescent City, CA 95531
and on the day of the meeting via simultaneous webcast (does not include field trips) at
http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/meetings_n.asp (for viewing or listening only)

January 20-21: Science Advisory Team (SAT) meeting, Eureka @ the Red Lion Inn

February 3-4: Blue Ribbon Task Force meeting: Fort Bragg, location TBD.

February 8-9: First North Coast Regional Stakeholder Group meeting: Eureka, Red Lion.

March 16-17: SAT meeting, Eureka

March 24-25: Regional Stakeholder Group meeting. Location TBD.