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California | North Bay / Marin | North Coast | Environment & Forest Defense | Government & Elections
Schwarzenegger Greenwashes His Destructive Ocean Policy
"The MLPA, in our view, is another attack on tribal rights and sovereignty," said Frankie Myers, a member of the Coastal Justice Coalition and Yurok Tribe ceremonial leader. "Therefore, we feel we must defend our rights and our lands through non-violent direct action. The MLPA process completely disregards tribal gathering rights and only permits discussion of commercial and recreational harvest. Our voice has not been heard; therefore, we feel we must stand and make our message be heard."
Schwarzenegger Greenwashes His Destructive Ocean Policy
by Dan Bacher
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today used President Barack Obama's signing of an executive order to establish a national policy for the "stewardship" of the ocean and Great Lakes as a cynical opportunity to greenwash the Governor's failed environmental policies.
This is the same Governor who has presided over the unprecedented collapse of Central Valley Chinook salmon and steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and southern resident killer whales by allowing corporate agribusiness and southern California to export record amounts of water from the California Delta in recent years.
This is also the same Governor who has fast-tracked his Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, a widely-contested process that scapegoats California Indian Tribes for fishery declines caused by decades of the state's reckless mismanagement, to greenwash his environmental "legacy."
"I'm pleased the White House has continued to focus attention on protecting our nation's coasts and oceans," Schwarzenegger gushed. "The Deepwater Horizon spill has emphasized what a vital role our oceans play in our environment, economy and overall well-being. California has long demonstrated leadership with ocean and coastal protection and we stand ready to continue assisting President Obama at all levels of government to ensure that we safeguard our treasured natural resources."
In a statement, Schwarzenegger claimed that California under his administration has become a "national leader" in ocean "protection," citing his creation of an Ocean Action Plan.
"In 2004, the Governor unveiled his Ocean Action Plan that set a national standard for the management of ocean and coastal resources, created the first Cabinet-level Ocean Protection Council in the nation and signed legislation increasing ocean protection, including limits on trawl-net fishing and water quality testing," according to the Governor's Office. "California also adopted the country's strictest rules on cruise ship dumping - standards that have since been expanded to cargo ships."
Schwarzenegger also touted the West Coast Governor's Agreement on Ocean Health as another example of his "leadership" in ocean management.
"In 2006, the Governor joined with the Governors of Washington and Oregon to form the West Coast Governors' Agreement On Ocean Health to protect not just California's shores, but the entire West Coast," the statement continued. "The Action Plan, released in 2008, outlines how the states can work together and with federal authorities to improve our ocean in seven priority areas. It includes 26 specific actions to help combat polluted runoff and reduce marine garbage, advocate for stricter vessel emission standards, prevent invasive species, oppose new offshore oil and gas development and explore alternatives, improve ocean research, and increase ocean education, among others."
However, Schwarzenegger failed to mention the "crown jewel" of his ocean policy - his MLPA Initiative, a deplorable case of corporate greenwashing that has been criticized by fishermen, Indian Tribes, conservationists, environmental justice advocates, coastal communities and Californians from a wide variety of political perspectives.
The Marine Life Protection Act, a law signed by Governor Gray Davis in 1999, has been eviscerated and corrupted under the Schwarzengger administration. Rather than actually protect the oceans, Schwarzenegger's privately funded MLPA Initiative has completely taken pollution, oil drilling, wave energy projects, corporate aquaculture, habitat destruction and other human uses of the ocean other than fishing and seaweed gathering off the table.
Schwarzenegger has appointed oil industry, marina development, real estate and other corporate operatives with numerous conflicts of interest to the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces. Many MLPA Initiative critics believe that Schwarzenegger has appointed these corporate representatives to these task forces to remove fishermen and Indian Tribal members, the staunchest supporters of true ocean protection, from their fishing and gathering grounds to pave the way for ocean industrialization and privatization.
In fact, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, is chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast and now serves on the MLPA panel for the North Coast. Incredibly, this "marine guardian," in spite of the environmental and economic devastation caused by the BP Oil Gusher in the Gulf of Mexico, has called for new oil drilling off the California coast!
In a call to action the same day that Schwarzenegger gushed about his "leadership" in ocean management, the Coastal Justice Coalition (CJC), a branch of the Klamath Justice Coalition, issued a call to action to come to a protest in Fort Bragg against the MLPA on July 21. CJC is an activist group comprised of tribal people and interested community members concerned with social /environmental issues along the Pacific coast.
"The CJC is very concerned with the impacts that the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) has on tribal gathering along the Pacific coast," according to Frankie Myers, Coastal Justice Coalition member and Yurok Tribe ceremonial leader. "Some tribal members have taken the position that regardless of the outcome of the MLPA process they will continue to gather, a position that the CJC fully supports and encourages."
"The MLPA, in our view, is another attack on tribal rights and sovereignty," Myers said. "Therefore, we feel we must defend our rights and our lands through non-violent direct action. The MLPA process completely disregards tribal gathering rights and only permits discussion of commercial and recreational harvest. Our voice has not been heard; therefore, we feel we must stand and make our message be heard."
"The next Blue Ribbon Task Force meeting is where we take our stand," he stated. "If your way of life is being targeted for MLPA restrictions, meet us at 11:30 AM at the corner of Oak and Main St. in Fort Bragg on Wednesday, July 21st, to protest. We are joining forces with other non-tribal groups that are also being affected and feel it is an injustice to stop tribal gathering. This is an attack that has already affected too many tribal people."
To show solidarity, blue t-shirts will be handed out to be worn during the protest. "There will be an action for those who want to express a stronger message," said Myers.
Limited transportation is available from the Humboldt-Del Norte area. For more information, please contact Frankie Myers at (707) 951-5052 or Georgiana K Myers at work #: 707-482-1350 ext. 302 or cell #: 707-951-5548.