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MLPA Initiative Releases Text of Motions Adopted for North Coast
On July 21, over 300 members of 50 Indian Tribes, commercial fishermen, immigrant seafood industry workers, conservationists, recreational anglers, seaweed harvesters, environmental justice advocates and community members peacefully took over a MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force meeting in Fort Bragg to protest the violation of Tribal rights and corporate greenwashing that has occurred under the controversial initiative.
MLPA Initiative Releases Text of Motions Adopted for North Coast
by Dan Bacher
On November 18, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative announced the release of the text of the recommendations made by the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF). The information includes two marine protected area (MPA) proposals and a special closures recommendation.
The seven motions adopted by the BRTF are available at: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/recommendations_nc.asp. One of the most significant motions, motion 2, clarifies Tribal gathering rights in marine protected areas:
"When the legal authority to do so is clarified and settled by the State of California and California tribes and tribal communities, the BRTF recommends that the California Fish and Game Commission identify 'tribal uses' as a separate category of use in the regulations applicable to each MPA. And, for each state marine conservation area (SMCA), state marine park (SMP) and state marine recreational management area (SMRMA) for which the NCRSG has proposed to allow tribal uses, the California Fish and Game Commission should include the following descriptive language in the regulations: 'Members of California indian tribes and tribal communities shall be allowed to fish, gather and harvest marine resources for California Marine Life Protection Act Initiative traditional, non-commercial subsistence, ceremonial, religious or stewardship purposes.'"
This resolution also provides for "a mutual reservation of rights by the State of California and California tribes and tribal communities."
MPA Proposal and Special Closure Recommendations (MLPA website) are available at: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/mpaproposals_nc.asp. These recommendations are the North Coast "Enhanced Compliance" Alternative MPA Proposal (ECA), the Revised Round 3 NCRSG MPA Proposal (RNCP), and the North Coast Special Closures Recommendation.
The materials currently available are: overview maps, descriptions of individual MPAs, consideration of existing MPAs and special closures maps, description and basic information.
"In the coming days and weeks, additional materials will be made available, including more detailed maps and evaluations of the MPA proposals and recommended special closures," said Kelly Sayce of the MLPA Initiative.
The MPA Proposal and Special Closure Recommendations (Marine Map) are available at: http://northcoast.marinemap.org (under the “MPA Proposals” tab). The names of MPA proposals and special closures recommendations in MarineMap are: the North Coast Enhanced Compliance Alternative MPA Proposal, Revised Round 3 NCRSG MPA Proposal and North Coast Special Closures Recommendation.
Any of the above information is available in print or on CD: Contact the MLPA office at mlpaoffice [at] resources.ca.gov or 916.654.1885.
The North Coast MLPA process is unique in that the diverse stakeholders, including Indian Tribes, commercial fishermen, recreational anglers, seaweed harvesters and local business owners, agreed to a unified proposal for marine protected areas. The proposal is also unique for inclusion of language protecting tribal subsistence and ceremonial gathering rights.
Unfortunately, the Fish and Game Commission has already designated and implemented marine protected areas on the Central Coast and North Coast without language protecting sovereign tribal rights, although a marine protected area off Stewarts Point in the North Central region was changed to allow for ceremonial and subsistence use by the Kashia Pomo Tribe after the area was closed on May 1, 2010.
The unified North Coast proposal could not have occurred without the hard work from the stakeholders - and intense political pressure from the Coastal Justice Coalition and Klamath Justice Coalition, who organized two direct action protests at MLPA meetings in Eureka and Fort Bragg.
On July 21, over 300 members of 50 Indian Tribes, commercial fishermen, conservationists, recreational anglers, seaweed harvesters, environmental justice advocates and community members peacefully took over a MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force meeting in Fort Bragg to protest the violation of Tribal rights and corporate greenwashing that has occurred under the controversial initiative.
The MPA proposal, developed by the 33-member north coast regional stakeholder group (NCRSG), will be presented to the California Fish and Game Commission together with a modified “enhanced compliance alternative” marine protected area proposal and other recommendations in Sacramento on February 2, 2011.
After the proposal is presented to the Commission, the Commission will hold hearings to solicit public comment. A final decision is not expected until later in the year under the incoming Jerry Brown administration.
Brown has not made any public comments to date about what direction his administration will take regarding the implementation and enforcement of Schwarzenegger's MLPA process. In 2004, Schwarzenegger privatized the process by allowing a private corporation, the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, to fund the initiative through a MOU between the foundation and the Department of Fish and Game.
Although some political insiders have speculated about possible Brown appointees to fill positions in the Resources Agency, Department of Fish and Game, Department of Water Resources, State Water Resources Control Board and other state agencies, Brown has not yet announced any appointments in the incoming administration.
Frankie Joe Myers, a Yurok Tribal ceremonial leader and organizer for the Coastal Justice Coalition that organized the direct action in Fort Bragg on July 21, said that he was glad that the task force adopted the unified proposal and passed motions supporting traditional tribal gathering and co-management, but emphasized that the proposal still has to be approved by the Fish and Game Commission.
"It is close to what we are looking for," said Myers. "However, the proposal still has to go through the Fish and Game Commission - it's not over yet. As native people, we have seen time and time again where we sit down and agree on something and then what comes out in the end is nothing like we expected."
Tribes, fishermen and environmentalists have criticized the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force, a panel that prominently features an oil industry lobbyist, marina developer and real estate executive, for numerous conflicts of interest and violations of state, federal and international laws.
While "Big Green" environmental NGOs including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Ocean Conservancy and the League of Conservation Voters constantly praise Schwarzenegger's MLPA Initiative for being an "open, transparent and inclusive" process, grassroots environmental and environmental justice organizations such as the Ocean Protection Coalition, Klamath Justice Coalition and Coastal Justice Coalition are among the initiative's fiercest critics.