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California | Environment & Forest Defense | Government & Elections

Guide to Southern California 'marine protected areas' now available
by Dan Bacher
Friday Sep 14th, 2012 1:30 PM
I applaud the DFG for releasing the guide, which will enable recreational anglers and commercial fishermen to more easily follow the new regulations. However, there are five “inconvenient truths” about the alleged "marine protected areas" that the DFG fails to mention in its release and guide.
guidebook_sc.jpg
guidebook_sc.jpg

Guide to Southern California 'marine protected areas' now available

by Dan Bacher

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) on September 13 announced the release of a printed "Guide to Southern California Marine Protected Areas" that clearly shows boundaries of the controversial new "marine protected areas" (MPAs) along the Southern California coast.

The Southern California MPAs went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012, after the California Fish and Game Commission adopted regulations in 2011 created under Arnold Schwarzenegger's privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

This network of 50 MPAs (including 13 pre-existing MPAs retained at the northern Channel Islands) and two special closures covers approximately 355 square miles of state waters and represents approximately 15 percent of the region.

The Department said the guides are free and available from DFG offices in Santa Barbara, Los Alamitos and San Diego, as well as selected ocean-related businesses and harbormasters’ offices along the coast.

“This booklet makes it possible for us to reach a broader audience by putting printed local marine protected area information directly in the hands of the public,” said Paul Hamdorf, Acting DFG Marine Region
Manager.

"This full-color Guide includes maps, coordinates, shoreline boundary images and regulations for Southern California MPAs along the coast from Point Conception in Santa Barbara County to the U.S./Mexico border, and around islands. Also included are descriptions of the goals of the Marine Life Protection Act which guided the MPAs’ development, answers to frequently asked questions and links to DFG web pages with additional information," according to the DFG news release.

For a list of locations and maps where booklets can be found, please go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/sclocations.asp. The Guide itself is also available for online viewing and printing at
http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/guidebooks.asp.

For more information, please visit DFG’s Southern California MPAs webpage at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/southcoast.asp.

The inconvenient truths about the MLPA Initiative

I applaud the DFG for releasing the guide, which will enable recreational anglers and commercial fishermen to more easily follow the new regulations. However, there are four “inconvenient truths” about the alleged "marine protected areas" created on the California coast under the MLPA Initiative that the DFG fails to mention in its release and guide.

First, the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces that oversaw the implementation of these “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 Forces for the South Coast, Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast. Reheis-Boyd, a relentless advocate for offshore oil drilling, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the Keystone XL Pipeline and the weakening of environmental laws, CHAIRED the task force that developed the MPAs that went into effect in Southern California on January 1. (http://blogs.alternet.org/danbacher/2012/06/24/the-most-censored-environmental-story-of-2012)

If having a big oil lobbyist in charge of the development of “marine protected areas” on the South Coast isn’t corporate greenwashing and bad public policy, I don’t know what is!

Many grassroots environmentalists and fishermen believe that Reheis-Boyd was appointed to the task force to make sure that the oil industry’s interests were protected – and to ensure that recreational and commercial fishermen and seaweed harvesters, the most vocal opponents of offshore oil drilling, are removed from many areas on the ocean to clear a path for ocean industrialization.

Second, these so-called “marine protected areas” do not protect the ocean from oil spills and drilling, military and seismic testing, corporate aquaculture, wind and wave energy projects and all other impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering. In violation of the letter and spirit of the landmark Marine Life Protection Act of 1999, these marine reserves fail to comprehensively protect the ocean from ocean industrialization and other threats to the marine ecosystem.

For example, while fishermen are prohibited from fishing in the Point Buchon State Marine Reserve on the Central Coast, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company plans to conduct seismic testing that is expected to kill blue whales, humpback whales, dolphins, fish and other marine life in a huge swath of ocean including the marine reserve. The testing has been mandated by the Federal Regulatory Commission as a condition for the relicensing of the controversial Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.

Fortunately, a broad coalition of environmentalists and fishermen has united to stop the deadly testing project, including organizing a "Thank the Whales" protest that drew over 400 people to Port San Luis and Avila Beach on September 1. For more information and action alerts, go to: http://www.facebook.com/StopTheDiabloCanyonSeismicTesting

Third, the allegedly “open and transparent” process was privately funded by the shadowy Resources Legacy Foundation. This is an inherent conflict of interest, since this foundation also funds many of the corporate “environmental” NGOs who lobbied for the creation of marine reserves with the least possible protection from all other human impacts on the ocean other than fishing.

The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation also funds, along with the Stephen Bechtel Jr. Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) studies advocating the construction of a peripheral canal or tunnel. The canal or tunnel would hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish populations. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/06/05/18714814.php)

Fourth, 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)

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.’”

The DFG release, as others released in the past, fails to mention the conflicts of interest, failure to comprehensively protect the ocean, shadowy private funding and incomplete and terminally flawed science that have made the MLPA Initiative into one of the most egregious examples of corporate greenwashing in California history.