MLPA news updates from this past summer

Larry De RidderMarine Protected Areas

From the HASA 2011 Fall Newsletter

June 6 — A San Diego Superior Court judge ordered that the Natural Resources Defense Council and Ocean Conservancy have no legal right to intervene in the lawsuit which seeks to preserve our right to fish in the coastal waters of California. That lawsuit, filed this past January by the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans (PSO), United Anglers of Southern California and Coastside Fishing Club, asked the court to set aside regulations planned through the MLPA Initiative process. That process created numerous large fishing closures along the coast. Regarding the matter of intervention, the judge sided with PSO that the environmental advocacy organizations did not have a “direct and immediate interest in the litigation”, and thus would not be permitted to intervene. Intervention by the activist environmental groups would have permitted them to dramatically escalate the costs of pushing the case in court, and was a significant victory for fishermen in Southern California. At this time it is unclear what effect this will have in Northern California.

June 23 — Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA) introduced the Fisheries Science Improvement Act (H.R. 2034). This Act seeks to ensure that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) is required to set catch limits based on data, not on limited-data estimates. This Act would restrict NOAA Fisheries from setting arbitrary and overly-restrictive catch levels on important recreational fisheries. The intent is to prevent NOAA from meeting Magnuson-Stevens Act deadlines for setting catch limits by skipping accurate stock assessments in favor of best guesses.

August 20 — It was disclosed that Walmart has contributed $36 million to various ocean privatization efforts. Much of the Walmart donation worked its way into the MLPA process.

August 25 — California’s Department of Fish and Game issued a press release indicating that the Office of Administrative Law (OAL), which must review and approve regulations before they take effect, has additional questions pertaining to implementing the MLPA. After DF&G responds to OAL, it may be required to re-notice the proposed regulatory package.

September 16 — At its September 16 meeting the California Fish and Game Commission agreed to delay implementing 49 new no-take zones along Southern California’s coastline from October 1, 2011 to January 1, 2012.

September 27 — DFG published their initial list of options trying to mesh MLPA take restrictions with rights granted to federally recognized Tribes. A copy of the regulatory options can be reviewed at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/pdfs/options_ncmpas_092711.pdf.