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Jan. 1: deadline for South Coast approaches
Will MLPA curtain come down Jan. 1?

 

BY PAUL LEBOWITZ

 

WON Staff Writer

 

 

SACRAMENTO -- The California Office of Administrative Law holds the fate of the MLPA start date in its hands. Will vast swathes of productive southern California coastline close to fishing on New Year’s Day as scheduled?

 

According to a source familiar with the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity, the OAL is picking very carefully over the regulations, presumably due to the ongoing court challenge spearheaded by United Anglers of Southern California, the Coastside Fishing Club and past Sportfishing Association of California president Robert C. Fletcher.

 

Time is ticking away. According to the arcane regulatory clock in Sacramento, the OAL must either approve the revised South Coast MLPA regulations by December 16, or send them once again back to the Fish and Game Commission for further work. The office is expected to hold its silence until the last possible day.

 

If the OAL bestows its blessing, south La Jolla, most of Laguna, Malibu’s Pt Dume and many more areas will be off limits to fishing come January 1. As it happens, the Fish and Game Commission wraps up its 2011 business on the 15th. Sources inside the governor’s office indicated this is expected to be the final meeting for combative commissioner and MLPA fan Richard B. Rogers, who infamously challenged foes to “bring it,” igniting the current court battle. There was no word on his replacement. Governor Brown’s appointment could have a momentous impact on future developments. The four remaining commissioners are balanced between MLPA supporters and detractors.

 

On the legal front, Partnership for Sustainable Oceans representatives continue to say the coalition of angling advocacy groups is weighing its options. In October, the effort suffered its first setback when San Diego Superior Court judge Ronald S. Prager rejected arguments that the MLPA was the result of a flawed, extra-legal planning process. The PSO is still raising funds for the battle via Ocean Access Protection Fund (www.oceanaccessprotectionfund.org <http://www.oceanaccessprotectionfund.org> ).  

 

Given how slowly the gears of the court system grind, should the PSO appeal, it will not be in time to stave off south coast fishing closures—if the OAL approves them by December 16.  

 

 

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