SF Bay Area Indymedia indymedia
About Contact Subscribe Calendar Publish Print Donate

California | North Coast | Environment & Forest Defense | Government & Elections

Coastside files appeal of court ruling on MLPA regulations
by Dan Bacher
Thursday Dec 15th, 2011 6:58 PM
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast that created the new "marine protected areas." Reheis-Boyd, while representing the interests of big oil companies, also served on the North Coast and North Central Coast task forces.

Map of North Central Coast "marine protected areas." Coastside Fishing Club has filed an appeal with California's 4th District Court of Appeal in its challenge of MLPA regulations adopted by the California Fish and Game Commission for the North Central Coast.

Coastside files appeal of court ruling on MLPA regulations

by Dan Bacher

An appeal of an unfavorable court ruling gives California's fishing and boating community renewed hope for overturning regulations imposed under the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

A coalition of fishing and boating groups, the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans (PSO), announced on December 15 that the legal challenge against the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process is not yet over.

Coastside Fishing Club, one of the three petitioners in litigation before the San Diego Superior Court challenging MLPA regulations adopted by the California Fish and Game Commission for the North Central Coast, filed an appeal with California's 4th District Court of Appeal.

"Regulations to close large areas of southern California's coastal waters to fishing will likely go into effect in January 2012, and the appeal process will likely last until late 2012," according to a news release from the coalition.

A December 15 press release from the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) said the controversial new "marine protected areas" (MPAs) 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.

Coastside's appeal arises from the denial by Judge Ronald Prager on October 17, 2011 of its request for a Writ of Mandate voiding MLPA regulations adopted by the commission for California's North Central Coast in 2009 based on legal defects in implementing California law. After a careful review, Coastside concluded that Judge Prager's ruling is inconsistent with the mandates of the law as established by the legislature.

The outcome of the appeal of Judge Prager's ruling on the North Central Coast regulations would likely influence the resolution of a similar challenge to the validity of the South Coast regulations brought in the same lawsuit by Coastside's co-plaintiffs, United Anglers of Southern California and Robert C. Fletcher.

"It's in the best interests of all Californians that our state's laws be implemented in a fair and even-handed manner as the legislature directs," said Rick Ross, Coastside's president. "Coastside intends to pursue this legitimate goal through all available legal means. We strongly believe in the merits of our case, and the appeal process provides a fresh opportunity to have our claims considered in a different forum."

On the same day, the coalition launched a new website, http://www.SaveCAFishing.org, to raise awareness of the legal challenge against the badly flawed MLPA process and to provide an opportunity for all anglers, boaters and anyone interested in a fair legal process to contribute to the effort.

Under the "Donate" section of the site, individuals can contribute $5 or more a month on a recurring basis, or make a one-time donation. All proceeds will directly support legal action to keep California's healthy and abundance coastal waters open to sportfishing.

"The only true hope California's fishing and boating community has left to stop these impending marine protected areas from existing in perpetuity is to support our legal effort," said Dave Elm, chairman of United Anglers of Southern California. "The SaveCAFishing.org website provides a simple, convenient way to support our efforts on an ongoing basis. I challenge all anglers and anyone that supports public access to public resources to donate to our effort to ensure sustainable recreational activities are allowed to continue in California's coastal waters."

"A single fishing trip may cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, but a simple $5 or more monthly contribution to the legal effort against the MLPA process may be the most important investment anglers can make to ensure the continuation of the sport for current and future generations," concluded Elm.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast that created the new "marine protected areas." Reheis-Boyd, while representing the interests of big oil companies, also served on the North Coast and North Central Coast task forces. 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 MLPA Initiative fiasco is privately funded by the shadowy Resources Legacy Fund Foundation (RLFF), a private corporation supplied with money from Wall Street-funded foundations (http://blogs.alternet.org/danbacher/2011/02/18/the-corporate-money-behind-the-mlpa-initiative). The initiative was implemented in a controversial "public-private" partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the DFG and RLFF initiated by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004.

Ironically, 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."

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, commented, "People need access to sustainable ocean food for nutritional health and our livelihood. 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, a supporter of the litigation against the MLPA Initiative, is currently an independent candidate for Congress in the Second Congressional District.

"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.

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