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Will Tribal scientists be invited to marine protected area conference?
by Dan Bacher
Saturday Sep 8th, 2012 10:53 PM
The Northern California Tribal Chairman's Association, including the Chairs of the Elk Valley Rancheria, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Karuk Tribe, Smith River Rancheria, Trinidad Rancheria, and Yurok Tribe, believes the science behind the MLPA Initiative developed by Schwarzenegger's Science Advisory Team is "incomplete and terminally flawed." (http://blogs.alternet.org/danbacher/2012/06/08/yurok-tribe-challenges-mlpa-initiatives-terminally-flawed-science/)

Photo of Yurok Tribal Chair, Thomas O’Rourke, at a direct action protest against the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative in Fort Bragg on July 21, 2010. Photo by Dan Bacher.
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Will Tribal scientists be invited to marine protected area conference?

by Dan Bacher

Resource managers, policy makers, stakeholders and scientists will meet in Monterey from February 27 to March 1, 2013 to reflect on the first five years of monitoring and management of "marine protected areas" that went into effect in September 2007 under Arnold Schwarzenegger's controversial Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

The symposium, "State of the California Central Coast," will also discuss perspectives on MPA governance and enforcement and look ahead to informing adaptive management of the Central Coast MPA network.

"This exciting and innovative 3-day public symposium, hosted by the MPA Monitoring Enterprise, California Department of Fish and Game, and California Fish and Game Commission, will be held at the Marriott Hotel in beautiful Monterey, California," according to the announcement from California Sea Grant.

"This unique symposium offers participants an opportunity to learn about the results from baseline MPA monitoring; to share results from their own research with scientists, stakeholders, resource managers and policy makers; and to discuss perspectives on MPA governance and enforcement," the announcement stated.

The "Call for Abstracts" submission deadline is 9/30/12. Abstracts considered for presentation "will be on a broad array of topics to build an understanding of ocean conditions in California’s Central Coast region inside and outside MPAs, and the ways in which ocean resources are managed and used."

To learn more about abstract guidelines and the submission process, you can visit http://www.stateofthecacoast.org.

The question is: will any scientists from California Indian Tribes will be included in this conference? To date, the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative that created the alleged "marine protected areas" has gone out of its way to exclude tribal scientists because many of them have challenged the very questionable "scientific" assumptions of the MLPA Initiative.

No scientists from California Indian Tribes were invited to serve on the MLPA Science Advisory Teams for the Central Coast, North Coast, South Coast or North Coast - nor were any Tribal scientists consulted regarding the creation of the so-called marine protected areas.

The Central Coast MLPA Initiative process, in violation of numerous state, federal and international laws, completely excluded local Tribal representatives from the stakeholder advisory panel, Science Advisory Team and Blue Ribbon Task Force.

The Northern California Tribal Chairman's Association, including the Chairs of the Elk Valley Rancheria, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Karuk Tribe, Smith River Rancheria, Trinidad Rancheria, and Yurok Tribe, believes the science behind the MLPA Initiative developed by Schwarzenegger's Science Advisory Team is "incomplete and terminally flawed."

On June 6, Yurok Tribal Chairman Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr. said, “While we appreciate the Brown administration’s support and the Fish and Game Commission effort to recognize tribal traditional harvesting rights, there is more that needs to be done in order to protect our culture and our resources for present and future generations. We also have serious questions about the science, developed under the Schwarzenegger Administration, which the process relies upon. We believe it requires a truly impartial external review and revision in order to work for our region."

The Yurok Tribe said it has attempted on numerous occasions to address the scientific inadequacies with the MLPA science developed under the Schwarzenegger administration by adding “more robust protocols” into the equation, but was denied every time. This denial of consideration of the Tribe’s scientific data flies in the face of false claims by MLPA advocates that the privately funded initiative creates “Yosemites of the Sea” and “underwater parks” based on “science.”

For example, the MLPA Science Advisory Team in August 2010 turned down a request by the Yurok Tribe to make a presentation to the panel. Among other data, the Tribe was going to present data of test results from other marine reserves regarding mussels.

“The data would have shown that there was not a statistical difference in the diversity of species from the harvested and un-harvested areas,” wrote John Corbett, Yurok Tribe Senior Attorney, in a letter to the Science Advisory Team on January 12, 2011. “The presentation would have encompassed the work of Smith, J.R. Gong and RF Ambrose, 2008, ‘The Impacts of Human Visitation on Mussel Bed Communities along the California Coast: Are Regulatory Marine Reserves Effective in Protecting these Communities.’”

Ironically, Ron LeValley, who co-chaired the Science Advisory Team that turned down the request by the Yurok Tribe to address the scientific inadequacies of the MLPA Initiative, was arrested with two others this March on charges of conspiracy to embezzle $900,000 from the Yurok Tribe. (http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_21371455)

For more information about the questionable "science" underpinning the MLPA Initiative, go to: http://blogs.alternet.org/danbacher/2012/06/08/yurok-tribe-challenges-mlpa-initiatives-terminally-flawed-science/

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, seismic 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, served on the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the North Coast and North Central Coast.

Reheis-Boyd, a relentless advocate for offshore oil drilling, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the Keystone XL Pipeline and the weakening of environmental laws, also chaired the South Coast MLPA Blue Ribbon Task that developed the MPAs that went into effect in Southern California waters on January 1, 2012.

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).