| Heeding the challenge to "Bring
it!" member organizations of the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans marched
into San Diego Superior Court, seeking to set aside South Coast and North
Central Coast MLPA regulations approved by the California Fish and Game Commission.
United Anglers of Southern California and Robert C. Fletcher picked up the gauntlet thrown by Commissioner
Richard Rogers last December when Rogers brusquely brushed aside warnings that
the MLPA process was fraught with closed door meetings and other violations of
state law. And they brought reinforcements from the north, the Coastside Fishing
Club, and expanded the legal challenge to include MLPA closures approved for the North Central Coast in August 2009.
The PSO lawsuit cites a lack of statutory authority for
adopting the regulations, and, in the case of the South Coast regulations,
numerous violations of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in the
commission's environmental review of the regulations.
"From the outset, it was clear that the MLPA process
was set up to reach a predetermined outcome under the fiction of an allegedly
open and transparent process," Bob Fletcher, former president of the
Sportfishing Association of California, said. "In a rush to establish
regulations based on political timelines and a pre-determined agenda, the Fish
and Game Commission has ignored the legal requirements it must follow."
"Ignoring the information before them, the commission
went forward with approving regulations to close 116 square miles of southern
California’s coastal waters to recreational fishing.,” Fletcher said of the
December implementation of the South Coast MLPA regulations.
concerning are the flaws in a regulatory process that has been fueled with
private money from special interests. The end result of this process has been a
rush by the commission to adopt regulations without the authority it has to
have to adopt them, and without a proper review of the environmental
consequences of what they're doing. That should be a concern for all
Californians, whether they fish for fun or for a living, or whether they've
never been fishing at all," Fletcher further said.
"Much of the best fishing areas are now closed under
the MLPA process," Dan Wolford, Science Director for the Coastside
Fishing Club noted. "Anglers in the North Central region are now suffering
because of excessive, unnecessary closures that we believe were improperly
established. We find it extremely concerning that anglers, who are the original
conservationists, are being taken off the water through a seriously flawed
process, while the real threats to the health of our ocean, such as
contaminated stormwater runoff and industrial pollutants, are allowed to
The PSO's legal petition attacks the Commission's action on several fronts. These include lack of a required rulemaking provisions and an absence of statutory authority, as well as violations of the CEQA environmental review process.
"The good intentions of the MLPA have been derailed by private interests and political motivations," Fletcher said. We urge anglers, outdoor enthusiasts and anyone who supports good government and the public's right to know what its government is doing to visit www.OceanAccessProtectionFund.org and donate what they can to help us continue to fight this flawed process in the courts."