Effective date for South Coast marine reserves delayed

author: 
Dan Bacher

"This decision comes after the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) informed the Commission that they will not approve the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) south coast MPAs regulatory package in time to make it effective Oct. 1, 2011 as anticipated.

Effective date for South Coast marine reserves delayed

by Dan Bacher

The California Fish and Game Commission will discuss alternative effective dates for implementation of the Southern California marine protected areas (MPAs) created under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative at its next meeting.

"The MPAs were previously expected to go into effect on Oct. 1, 2011, after the Commission chose that date at its June meeting," according to a Fish and Game Commission news release on August 25. "They will now discuss a new implementation date at the Sept. 15 meeting in Redding."

"This decision comes after the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) informed the Commission that they will not approve the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) south coast MPAs regulatory package in time to make it effective Oct. 1, 2011 as anticipated. It is a complicated package and OAL informed the Commission that it has additional questions and requests for more information that will require a re-notice," the Commission stated.

On Dec. 15, 2010 the Commission adopted regulations to create a suite of MPAs in the South Coast Study Region, which spans which spans state waters from Point Conception in Santa Barbara County to the U.S./Mexico border. Developed under the MLPA Initiative planning process, this network of 36 MPAs will be added to the 13 existing MPAs and two special closures in the Northern Channel Islands, which were established in 2003. Combined, the 49 MPAs and two special closures cover approximately 354 square miles of state waters and represent approximately 15 percent of the region.

MLPA Initiative Background:

The Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) is a law, signed by Governor Gray Davis in 1999, designed to create a network of marine protected areas off the California Coast. However, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004 created the privately-funded MLPA "Initiative" to "implement" the law, effectively eviscerating the MLPA.

The "marine protected areas" created under the MLPA Initiative fail to protect the ocean from oil spills and drilling, water pollution, military testing, wave and wind energy projects, corporate aquaculture and all other uses of the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

The MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces that oversaw the implementation of "marine protected areas" included a big oil lobbyist, marina developer, real estate executive and other individuals with numerous conflicts of interest. Catherine Reheis Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association who is pushing for new oil drilling off the California coast, served as the chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast.

The MLPA Initiative operated through a controversial private/public "partnership funded by the shadowy Resources Legacy Fund Foundation. The Schwarzenegger administration, under intense criticism by grassroots environmentalists, fishermen and Tribal members, authorized the implementation of marine protected areas under the initiative through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the foundation and the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG).

Tribal members, fishermen, grassroots environmentalists, human rights advocates and civil liberties activists have slammed the MLPA Initiative for the violation of numerous state, federal and international laws. Critics charge that the initiative, privatized by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004, has violated the Bagley-Keene Open Meetings Act, Brown Act, California Administrative Procedures Act, American Indian Religious Freedom Act and UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

MLPA and state officials refused to appoint any tribal scientists to the MLPA Science Advisory Team (SAT), in spite of the fact that the Yurok Tribe alone has a Fisheries Department with over 70 staff members during the peak fishing season, including many scientists. The MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force also didn't include any tribal representatives until 2010 when one was finally appointed to the panel.





Photo of Tijuana River mouth courtesy of Lis Cox, US Fish and Wildlife Service.