Seventeen local government agencies have signed a resolution to the state of California urging the adoption without modification of the unified array for marine protected areas developed by North Coast Tribal, fishing and environmental stakeholders.
The resolution, sent to the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force and California Fish and Game Commission on October 20, says that if any changes to the proposal are considered, they must be developed in collaboration with Regional Stakeholders and North Coast communities.
The resolution emphasizes that “long term success of MPAs (marine protected areas) will required acceptance by local communities.”
“Although many community members do not believe any new MPAs are warranted, the Unified MLPA Array represents and compromise acceptable to North Coast residents, including recreational fishermen, commercial fishermen and conservation advocates,” the resolution says.
The resolution also includes strong language supporting Tribal fishing and gathering rights. “Any approved MPA array design will need to allow traditional, non-commercial, gathering, subsistence, harvesting, ceremonial and stewardship activities by California Tribes and Tribal Communities,” the resolution states.
Government agencies endorsing the resolution include the Counties of Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte and the cities of Monterey, Point Arena, Fort Bragg, Willits, Ukiah, Fortuna Eureka, Arcata, Trinidad and Crescent City. Other agencies signing onto the resolution include the Shelter Cove Resort Improvement District, Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District and Crescent City Harbor District.
The MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) will meet on Monday, October 25 and Tuesday, October 26 at the River Lodge Conference Center, 1800 Riverwalk Drive in Fortuna, to approve a proposal for a network of marine protected areas to send to the Fish and Game Commission for approval.
North Coast residents fear that the task force will try to change the proposal under pressure by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom many believe is using the controversial MLPA process to greenwash his environmental legacy.
"Even with this widespread support for the single proposal, we are worried that the BRTF may be interested in coming up with its own alternative," said Jim Martin, West Coast Regional Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance.
North Coast fishermen, Tribes and environmentalists have criticized the MLPA Initiative for violating the Bagley-Keene Public Meetings Act, California Public Records Act, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and other state, federal and international laws.
MLPA critics also point out that the Blue Ribbon Task Force that oversees the process includes oil industry, real estate, marina development and other corporate operatives with numerous conflicts of interest. The process is funded by a private corporation, the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation overseen by executive director Michael Eaton.
On July 21, over 300 people including members of 50 Indian Nations, recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, immigrant seafood industry workers and environmental activists peacefully took over the previous Blue Ribbon Task Force meeting in Fort Bragg to protest the denial of tribal rights and greenwashing that has occurred under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's MLPA Initiative. This was the largest protest held on the North Coast since the Redwood Summer of 1991.
More information about the upcoming meeting can be found at: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/meetings_n.asp