| 3-2 vote for approval, plus additional areas
Dirty Dealings continue: Despite evidence secret meetings
were decisive, commissioners Sutton, Rogers and Baylis vote in massive South
Coast MLPA fishing closures
BY PAUL LEBOWITZ
WON Staff Writer
Editor's note: a more detailed story and sidebar on what areas will be impacted and what the timetable for the lawsuit and/or closures will be in effect is forthcoming in WON. In this fourth web update from the meeting, added are five photos and the updated map with last-minute changes, as well as imbedded video).
SANTA BARBARA – It’s all over but the crying and the court battle.
By a bare majority, the California Fish and Game approved a sweeping set of new
MLPA reserves for the Southern California coast on a 3-2 vote.
Commissioners Michael Sutton,
Richard B Rogers and Jack Baylis weren’t swayed by evidence that the closure
plan under consideration, termed the Integrated Preferred Alternative, came
together in secret meetings held by the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force.
Commissioners Dan W. Richards and Jim Kellogg voted no.
Attorneys for the Partnership for
Sustainable Oceans, a coalition of sportfishing groups including the United
Anglers of Southern California, the Sportfishing Association of California and
others, cautioned the commission that the entire MLPA program is vulnerable to
legal challenge due to these closed-door dealings and additional technical
“You don’t change what you’re doing
by threat of legal action. This legal business, good try, you can client pound
all you like… Bring it!” Rogers provocatively asserted, daring a legal
Richards pointed out the state
doesn’t have the money to properly monitor and enforce the new closures.
“There’s no possible way in five or ten years we’ll have collected adequate
documentation. This department is in a catastrophe. We’re not doing 100s of
things we’re supposed to. The wardens to my knowledge have never opposed
anything. And this one, they’re adamant,” Richards said.
Minus a court challenge, the new
marine protected areas should go into effect in roughly a year. Large
‘backbone’ reserves are set for south La Jolla, most of the Laguna coast, south
Palos Verdes, Malibu’s Pt Dume, Campus Pt in Santa Barbara, Pt Conception, and
Catalina’s Blue Caverns. The US Navy has already approved two large safety area
closures at the north end of San Clemente Island. They will be managed as de
Kellogg was frustrated by the rush
to implement the closure plan. “In my lifetime I’ve never seen the economy, not
only in this state but in the county, this bad. If we could prevent one
fisherman from losing a job until this economy turns around… That’s my
problem,” he said.
TO READERS FROM WON’s PAUL LEBOWITZ: “When it
they had a map out, just like that! with all the new changes they voted to add
in – at the last minute. The
regs are complex but basically, red is no fishing no-how. Blue
is no fishing of one sort or another. Many of those are complete
bans, only allowing for outfall pipe sampling and beach and pier maintenance.
video of the PSO attorneys' statements is up on the KayakFishingZone
vigil outside the Hotel Mar Monte
THROUGHOUT THIS LONG, TORTUOUS ORDEAL, individual
dug deep to make the MLPA meetings. What was one more drab day in
for 60 seconds of speaking time? Although anglers were railroaded,
result would have been much worse if anglers hadn’t fought to keep
WON PHOTOS BY PAUL LEBOWITZ
A LINE OF BLUE-SHIRTED MPA closure fans sits in front
PSO’s heavy guns. The small hearing room placed opponents
AND GAME COMMISSIONER
Richard B. Rogers scowls as
among his suited colleagues. Meanwhile Jim Kellogg seems already to
to the inevitability of a series of 3-2 votes in favor of
ATTORNEY DAVID D. COOKE warns the commission they
legal peril for a host of reasons if they proceed. Rogers’ response:
Behind the Legal Battle
Ocean Access Protection Fund
Collects Funds for Fight MLPA Corruption
Attorneys representing the
Partnership for Sustainable Oceans have uncovered evidence they say
unequivocally proves the recently approved South Coast MLPA closures were
assembled behind closed doors.
It took a successful public records
act lawsuit to produce those documents.
To date, only a handful of records have been released. Further legal
action will likely be necessary. The Ocean Access Protection Fund coordinated
funds for that first, successful court action. The OAPF is a non-profit
spearheaded by United Anglers of Southern California in collaboration with the
PSO. Anglers who are fed up with MLPA corruption can donate at www.oceanaccessprotectionfund.org.
“We are the only ones raising the
legal issues that could bring down the process, for that reason alone people
should step up. Help make sure this corrupt process doesn’t conclude with the
loss of your fishing grounds,” former Sportfishing Association of California
president Bob Fletcher urged.