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Oil lobbyist led marine reserves go into effect
by Dan Bacher
Sunday Jan 1st, 2012 9:00 PM
Walmart Chairman Rob Walton, who has dumped millions into groups supporting the MLPA Initiative and similar efforts to privatize the oceans worldwide, is no doubt very pleased also with the implementation of this network of 50 MPAs.

So-called "marine protected areas," created by a task force chaired by a big oil industry lobbyist, went into effect on the Southern California coast on New Year's Day. They will do nothing to stop oil spills and drilling - nor curb the pollution that plagues our waters.
Oil lobbyist led marine reserves go into effect

by Dan Bacher

So-called "marine protected areas" (MPAs), created under the leadership of a big oil lobbyist, went into effect January 1 in Southern California ocean waters from Point Conception in Santa Barbara County to the U.S./Mexico border.

Representatives of the Department of Fish and Game, corporate "environmental" NGOs, the Western States Petroleum Association, Safeway Stores and other supporters of the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative had reason to celebrate the beginning of the New Year with the implementation of these questionable "marine protected areas."

You know that there is "something fishy" about these "marine protected areas" when corporate giant Safeway, the target of boycotts over the years by a multitude of groups ranging from the United Farm Workers Union to the Recreational Fishing Alliance, praises the MLPA Initiative. In an official statement, Safeway proclaims, “In California, Safeway is a proponent of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPA), which balances the use and conservation of living marine resources through a statewide network of MPA’s.”

Walmart Chairman Rob Walton, who has dumped millions of dollars into groups supporting the MLPA Initiative and similar efforts to privatize the oceans worldwide, is no doubt very pleased also with the implementation of this network of 50 MPAs. (

This network includes 13 pre-existing MPAs retained at the northern Channel Islands and two special closures covering approximately 354 square miles of state waters and representing approximately 15 percent of the region.

In contrast, fishermen, grassroots conservationists, environmental justice advocates, civil liberties activists and those who care about openness and transparency in government and oppose the privatization of the public trust view January 1, 2012 as a dark day in California history. Unlike representatives of Wall Street-funded NGOs, respected environmental leaders including John and Barbara Stephens-Lewallen fiercely oppose the privatized MLPA Initiative overseen by ocean industrialists and corporate operatives.

There are five points that are key to understanding the truth about the alleged "marine protected areas" that went into effect in Southern California waters today.

First, these "marine reserves" were created by the MLPA "Blue Ribbon Task Force" for the South Coast chaired by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association. Reheis-Boyd is a big oil industry lobbyist with an egregious conflict of interest in the designation of MPAs, considering that she has repeatedly called for new oil drilling off the California coast and the weakening of environmental regulations, as well as supporting environmentally destructive Canadian tar sands drilling ( She was the proverbial "fox" in charge of the "hen house."

Second, the MLPA process was overseen not only by an oil industry lobbyist, but by a marina developer, coastal real estate executive and other corporate operatives and political hacks with numerous conflicts of interest.

Third, in a parody of true marine protection, these fake "marine protected areas" fail to protect the ocean from oil spills and drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture, wind and wave energy projects and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

Fourth, the MLPA Initiative that created the MPAs is privately funded by the shadowy Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, setting a bad precedent for the privatization of conservation and the public trust in California. (

Five, 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.”

Jeff Krieger, avid Southern California kayak angler and conservationist, sadly noted two weeks before today's closure, “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 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.”

“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.

Those who believe in environmental justice, democracy and true, wholistic marine protection – as opposed to privately funded green washing – are committed to fighting the MLPA Initiative through litigation and exposing the numerous conflicts of interest and violations of state and federal laws.

A recent appeal of an unfavorable court ruling gives California’s fishing and boating community renewed hope for overturning regulations imposed under the privately funded MLPA Initiative. 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 on December 15.

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.

“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."

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.

To donate to the litigation against the MLPA Initiative, go to:

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Beeline
Monday Jan 2nd, 2012 6:26 PM
I couldn't help notice that the Fish and Game Commission is manned by an electrical engineer, a labor leader, an ex park ranger, a real estate developer and the VP for AECOM Technology. Just what the hell do they know about the biology of fish and wildlife. This business comes first attitude is killing California. They are stealing the biological pie and then dividing it up amongst themselves and their cronies.

The trend in wildlife regulation has been dreadfully liberal. EG: Crossbows and airguns which are good poaching weapons are now legal. You can even shoot the big bodied wild turkey with a whimpy .177 pellet gun. BB guns are now legal on refuges. What next? Maybe waterfowling with 20mm explosive rounds. They care about more about the sales of off beat weapons than they do about the humane killing of wildlife. Hunting has become a joke. And they wonder why people aren't buying hunting licenses anymore. And how is the woefully under manned warden force supposed to deal with all this stuff? A myriad of micro managing regulations on paper don't mean a damn thing if there is no enforcement.

The prevailing attitude still reminds me of what happened to the Passenger Pigeons. There are many accounts from the early 1800's of flocks numbering in the billions. That's right billions. By about 1880 the passenger pigeon population went to economic extinction-the last one died in 1914 in a zoo. They were in the economic gun sights of businessmen. Pigeons were killed in every way imaginable. Blasted from their roost trees, suffocated with sulfur fumes, netted in mass on the nesting grounds besides the usual shooting with firearms. People actually became rich at selling pigeons for about 3 cents per bird. This mass killing also denied the Indians of their ancestral food source. Conquer the west by using it up. Well folks, the business types got them all. A species that most everybody just new had to survive because of their shear numbers was wiped out permanently. Forever. This was perhaps the largest biological crime ever committed.

Ironically, the last one died on 1 September 1914. 1 September is the first legal day to hunt migratory species in the US. Will we ever learn??