No-decision on North-Central lawsuit comes after spirited
SAN DIEGO — San
Diego Superior Court Judge Ronald Prager heard spirited testimony from both
sides of the Marine Life Protection Act and and elected not to make a decision
at the Thursday hearing. He has delayed his decision until at least this week.
According to sources, he set no timetable, and authors and
supporters of the lawsuit are mounting a letter-writing campaign to the court
and Judge Prager.
This is not the worst of news for the sportfishing industry
which has raised $600,000 for the lawsuit that is now at or close to
costing $1 million in legal fees.
It is not good news for either side, which had hoped for a clear decision.
The Plaintiffs, the
Partnership for Sustainable Oceans members Bob Fletcher, United Anglers
of Southern California and Coastside --
argue the Commission have acted without statutory authority.
Californians who agree can donate directly to the anti-MLPA legal effort at http://www.oceanaccessprotectionfund.org/.
While the battle over the North-Central Region in the
lawsuit awaits the judge’s decision, clearly a lynchpin in any further legal
efforts against the MLPA and upcoming closures, the fight for funds is heating
up. On Saturday, Fletcher announced a $50,000 donation toward matching funds
was issued by the American Sportfishing Association based in Alexandria, VA.
That means any funds up to $50,000 raised by United Anglers of SoCal and others
will be matched by the Association. A few minutes later, after Fletcher
announced ASA’s matching fund donation on the Let’s Talk Hookup Radio show at a
Ford dealership, Ingrid Poole walked up to the microphone and said she heard
about the matching fund donation and kicked in $10,000.
In other MLPA news, which is a clear victory for
sportfishing interests, it was announced that on Oct. 3, the California Fish
and Game Commission opened a 15-day public comment period for revised proposed
regulations for the South Coast marine protected areas developed under the
Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process. The closures are expected to g into
effect Jan. 1.
Revisions were made because the California Office of
Administrative Law (OAL), which must first review and approve the regulations
before they go into effect, rejected the regulatory package previously provided
by the commission.
The Partnership for Sustainable Oceans, which represents the
interests of California's recreational anglers and boaters in the MLPA process,
is currently reviewing the revised regulations and will provide suggested
issues to consider when commenting on the regulations prior to the Oct, 18,
Comments will also be accepted at the Oct. 19 Fish and Game
Commission meeting in Monterey.
During its September meeting, the commission outlined a
proposed timeline to re-notice and finalize the South Coast MLPA regulations,
resubmit them to OAL, and seek an anticipated effective date of Jan. 1, 2012.
This projected effective date is not only dependent on OAL approval, but also
may be affected by the outcome of a pending lawsuit filed by members of the
For information on how to contribute to the
legal effort, please visit www.OceanAccessProtectionFund.org