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Controversial marine 'protected' areas effective January 1
by Dan Bacher
Thursday Dec 15th, 2011 3:38 PM
The DFG release failed to mention that Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast that created the new marine protected areas. Reheis-Boyd is a huge supporter of new offshore oil rigs, Canadian tars sands drilling and the weakening of environmental laws.
640_scmpas_1.jpg
640_scmpas_1.jpg

Controversial marine 'protected' areas effective January 1

by Dan Bacher

Controversial new "marine protected areas" (MPAs), developed under the oversight of a big oil lobbyist, marina developer, and real estate executive, will go into effect Jan. 1, 2012 on the Southern California coast from Point Conception in Santa Barbara County to the U.S./Mexico border.

In spite of strong opposition from fishermen and grassroots environmental advocates, the state Office of Administrative Law (OAL) on December 8 approved the regulatory package put forward by the California Fish and Game Commission that sets rules and boundaries for the south coast MPAs, according to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Game.

"Nearly one year ago the Commission adopted regulations to create a suite of MPAs in the south coast region," the DFG claimed. "Developed pursuant to the California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), this network of 50 MPAs (including 13 pre-existing MPAs retained at the northern Channel Islands) and two special closures covers approximately 354 square miles of state waters and represents approximately 15 percent of the region."

"On Jan. 1, Department of Fish and Game (DFG) wardens will begin enforcing regulations in the MPAs. Wardens will take appropriate enforcement actions starting on that day, which could include education, warning, citation or arrest depending on the violation. In MPAs where commercial lobster fishing will be prohibited, commercial lobster traps may remain in the water until Jan. 6 if the door or doors to such traps are wired open, the trap is unbaited, the buoy remains at the surface of the ocean and no attempt is made to take spiny lobsters," the release continued.

Final regulations and maps for all MPAs can be found here: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/scmpas_list.asp.

The DFG release failed to mention that Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast that created the new "marine protected areas." Reheis-Boyd is a huge supporter of new offshore oil rigs, Canadian tars sands drilling and the weakening of environmental laws.(http://redgreenandblue.org/2011/01/13/why-is-a-big-oil-lobbyist-in-charge-of-californias-marine-protection-program)

Reheis-Boyd, along with a marina developer, real estate executive and other political hacks with numerous conflicts of interest, oversaw the creation of these marine protected areas that fail to protect the ocean from oil spills and drilling, pollution, corporate aquaculture, wave and wind energy projects, military testing and all other human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

The release also did not mention that the MLPA Initiative fiasco was privately funded by the shadowy Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, a private corporation supplied with money from Wall Street-funded foundations. Safeway Stores and Walmart, through the Walton Family Foundation, are also strong supporters of this classic example of corporate greenwashing. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/11/30/the-worst-of-the-one-percent)

In addition, the release failed to note that the California Fish and Game Wardens Association has opposed the creation of new marine protected areas until sufficient funding to patrol the existing ones is found. This is why rank-and-file game wardens refer to the MPAs as "Marine Poaching Areas."

Those who believe in environmental justice, democracy and true, wholistic marine protection - as opposed to privately funded green washing - believe that January 1, 2012 will be a very sad day.

Jeff Krieger, avid Southern California kayak angler and conservationist, noted, "I'm going to kayak fish and visit the Point Dume area this weekend and say goodbye, since this area closes on January 1. This sucks and is not a victory for the 99%! It is more like a water grab by the 1%, in my mind!"

"People need access to sustainable ocean food for nutritional health and our livelihood," commented John Stephens-Lewallen, the North Coast environmental leader who co-founded the Ocean Protection Coalition and North Coast Seaweed Rebellion and has been a vocal critic of the MLPA process. "We can't let these areas, closed by a corrupt private process, keep us from exercising our fundamental rights and duties to have access to sustainable food from the ocean."

John is currently an independent candidate for Congress in the Second Congressional District (http://www.johnlewallenforcongress.org).

"The MLPA is the beginning of the privatization of our natural resources in California where, in an underhanded and illegal way, the decisions have been taken from the people and put into the hands of the ocean industrialists," said Barbara Stephens-Lewallen, John's wife and co-owner of Mendocino Sea Vegetable Company.

DFG's MPA mobile website, located at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/m/MPA, will also be updated to reflect the new MPAs going into effect Jan. 1. The mobile website allows the public to search for any current MPA by name, county or general area to find information about the MPA's boundaries and regulations, and use an interactive map to locate any MPA and learn about its boundaries and regulations.

Mobile device users can also find and track their current location using the devices GPS, locate the closest MPA(s) to determine whether or not the user is currently located within an MPA, and read a summary of regulations or the complete regulations for any MPA.

For more information on the south coast MPAs or MLPA, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/southcoast.asp.