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Critical MLPA Court Showdown Set for September

With the legal battle at full bore, it's time to dig deep and donate.

BY PAUL LEBOWITZ

WON Staff Writer


SAN DIEGO – United Anglers of Southern California, Robert C. Fletcher and the Coastside Fishing Club are waging legal war against “tainted” Marine Life Protection Act ocean closures. Ahead three wins to no losses in court skirmishes, the effort will face its first pitched battle on September 26.

 

 

On that day Judge Ronald S. Prager of the San Diego Superior Court will hear claims the Fish and Game Commission exceeded its authority when it approved a network of Marine Protected Areas in North-Central California. Fletcher, past president of the Sportfishing Association of California, is confident his attorneys will prevail.

 

 

“We feel good about our lawsuit. We’ve made a number of valid points [in previous hearings]. The court is listening. My feeling is one of optimism. We plan to win this lawsuit,” Fletcher said.

 

 

South Coast ocean closures are scheduled to take effect just days later on October first. The fiery Fletcher expects a delay one way or another. That start date presumes the state Office of Administrative Law will pass muster on the regulations. Although sources say the agency is well known for wielding a rubber stamp, meeting the timetable is no foregone conclusion.  If and when they do, the UASC, Fletcher, Coastside legal team will be ready for action.

 

 

“Should the South Coast MPA regulations be approved by the OAL, the court indicated that it will entertain a motion for preliminary injunction (i.e., a motion to prevent them from being enforced) that would be scheduled for hearing in late September, before the Oct. 1 effective date recently designated by the Commission,” a source familiar with the situation told WON.

 

 

With the legal salvoes following hotly one after the other, the costs are adding up quickly. To date, ocean fishing interests have collected more than $440,000 for this massive effort. Fletcher urged anglers to keep it up.

 

 

“As much as we’ve asked of fisherman and friends of fisherman to ask us financially, the need is becoming even greater now that a hearing date is set. This is the fist major battle in our fight. Funds are critical to win it,” he said. Anglers can donate directly to the legal fund at www.OceanAccessProtectionFund.org. Dig deep.

 

 

UASC is hosting a summer fundraiser at Raaauge’s Shooting Enterprises on Sunday August 7. Chris Fischer of Shark Men TV fame is the guest speaker. This is an opportunity to briefly put down the fishing pole and pick up a shotgun. Event guests will pay only for targets and ammo at the Corona range. Chow down on Santa Maria style tri tip for $50 a person or $450 for a table of ten. Tickets are available by calling UASC at 562-494-9900.

 

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