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Friday, May 08, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009


So much is going to happen in the next 10 days of the MLPA process it's sort of unbelievable, and the crazy thing is that every single meeting is important. Not that they all don't have some impact, but this is crunch time.

The breakneck pace of the process is nothing new to those how have been involved for a while, but what's ironic is the North Central Coast process raced to develop its proposals and it turned out to be like the old military saying -- hurry up and wait. You see, the regulatory process before the Fish and Game Commission is very much a state process and, in case you haven't noticed, the state hasn't really had much cash on hand to do anything. But here we go -- by law the Fish and Game has to hold three public hearings before it can vote for a North Central Coast package and Thursday is the first official hearing. Coastside Fishing Club is mustering it's troops in support of 2XA, much of which actually made it into the Integrated Preferred Alternative. A vital chunk of the Sonoma coast got left out and will be the bone of contention at the meeting Thursday at the Resources Building Auditorium (first floor) on 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento. If you can't go, you can still e-mail the commissioners by clicking here.

The next day (Friday, May 15) the Science Advisory Team finalizes its evaluation of the military closures during a single-item agenda conference call at 2:30 in the afternoon.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force then gets on the phone for two mornings in a row on Monday and Tuesday (May 18 and 19) to review what data the SAT has processed for them the last couple weeks. In addition to deciding whether the military closures should be given the same weight as a marine reserve, some folks feel the Task Force has to say one way or another whether they are going to pursue additional marine protected areas at San Nicolas and San Clemente islands despite Department of Defense objections.

Since they won't be done until the end of Tuesday morning, it's hard to imagine the South Coast Regional Stakeholders Working Group will be able to do more than digest the new information during the afternoon session scheduled the same day (May 19) in Santa Ana at the Doubletree on MacArthur Blvd.  And you'll need to digest it, too, since a public comment session is scheduled for that evening at 7 p.m. at the same location. What better way than to sit in with the stakeholders that afternoon. Besides the military islands, topics on the table will be things such as "persistent kelp" and the other wacky ways the SAT told the stakeholders how to find good areas for reserves.

The kelp bed off Dana Point.

If you're unsure about attending since you feel uncomfortable and don't know exactly what to do, you can go to an MLPA 101 session put on by Paul Romanowski of the Fathomiers. Paul has been putting in a lot of time on the process lately and has some good pointers. The seminars are sponsored by UASC and will be held:

Monday, May 11 at 7 p.m.
Tuesday, May 12 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 16 at 1 p.m.
Monday, May 18 at 7 p.m.

The seminars take place at the Alamitos Bay Sportsmen's Club, 1933 Temple Avenue, Signal Hill, CA 90755. For more info, call (949) 863-9447.

On May 20 at the Doubletree it's full speed deliberations for the stakeholders as they spend the entire day in work sessions, and, while the public can attend, there will be no comment period. On Thursday, still at the Doubletree in Santa Ana, the stakeholders will meet in one group (although they still might break out) and choose the "5 or 6" proposals they will forward  for evaluation by the SAT, DFG, I-Team and BRTF in preparation for the third and final round. The agenda has just come out and public comment on the 21st is scheduled for 9 a.m.

Buckle up.

For more information on meetings and the process, go to

In addition, so as to keep most of the info available in a single area (this blog), here is the latest news story on the process in this week's WON. If you haven't done so already, I would also suggest checking out the blog previous to this, WEIRD SCIENCE for a perspective into the science this process is based upon — the creation of an independent ecosystem.

Blue Ribbon Task Force waits for final word

SAT sticks to strict coastal guidelines, craves military islands

WON Staff Writer

SANTA ANA — You can’t say they’re not trying, although that’s no so reassuring when what the staff and policy groups surrounding the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative are trying to do is create a massive array of fishing closures off Southern California by early next fall.

In order to stick to that deadline, the Science Advisory Team and the Blue Ribbon Task Force have added and/or postponed meeting dates in order to provide stakeholders involved in the South Coast project with the input needed to finish up round two proposals for a network of marine protected areas from Point Conception to the Mexican border. The stakeholders are scheduled to meet at the Doubletree Hotel in Santa Ana on MacArthur Blvd. May 19-21.

SAT deliberations during a May 5 teleconference basically resulted in the decision to continue to apply the size and spacing guidelines in the MLPA Master Plan to the Southern California coastline using the data currently available. That included using a proxy for the missing information on the habitat in depths from 0 to 30 meters. 

Of major concern in the development of that proxy is whether kelp should be used as an indicator of rocky substrate (hard bottom). Complicating the issue is which areas with kelp would qualify — all the kelp currently identifiable (maximum) or only that kelp which was around for three to four years out of a seven-year study period (persistent).

For the time being, the SAT decided to evaluate proposals based on both persistent and maximum kelp, but even in the more flexible instance of maximum kelp stakeholders will have a difficult time placing reserves in such a way to meet spacing guidelines and not have an enormous socioeconomic impact on the Southern California anglers, commercial fishermen and related businesses (harbors, tackle shops, resorts, etc.). 

The SAT has struggled with how to evaluate proposed military closures (no public access, no public/military fishing) at San Nicolas and San Clemente Islands and added a single-item-agenda teleconference for 2:30 Friday May 15 to make a final decision at the request of the BRTF.

The Task Force in turn postponed their meeting until May 18-19 in order to have the input from the SAT.  The fact is stakeholders have been basically frozen in place until they receive guidance from the BRTF own how they should regard/disregard the U.S. Navy’s proposal (which includes a request from the Navy that no additional areas be closed and that no area of the islands be designated a marine protect area).

South Coast stakeholders are expected to forward 5 or 6 closure proposals to the BRTF by the end of business May 21. The third and final round of stakeholder deliberations will then begin and is expected to produce three proposals, one of which will be designated as “preferred” by the Task Force when all three are forwarded to the Fish and Game Commission in the fall.

Reader Comments
Thanks Rich!! We will be teaching you the in's and outs of the MLPA, and we can answer every question you can think of...except what the DFG will not clarify for us. We have a lot of ways to help you get involved, and hope folks will come to the seminars. Last night went well, and we are even making a couple small adjustments for tonights seminar. Hope to see a lot of fishermen there,and I really hope to see EVERY fisherman at the May 19 public speaking session. I mean every last one of us, our kids, dads, grandparents, everyone who fishes with us!! Paul.
Paul Romanowski
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