[env-trinity] Fisheries Forum Questions Point Arena Closures: What Role is the Oil Industry Playing?

Dan Bacher danielbacher at fishsniffer.com
Fri Apr 3 13:38:46 PDT 2009


http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/04/03/18585780.php

Fisheries Forum Questions Point Arena Closures: What Role is the Oil  
Industry Playing?

by John Lewallen

“Why is Catherine Reheis-Boyd, CEO and Chief of Staff for the Western  
States Petroleum Association, a key member of the five-member MLPA  
Blue Ribbon Task Force which has decreed new zones where people can  
take no food from state waters?” John Lewallen, longtime North Coast  
environmental activist and seaweed harvester asks. “Is it coincidence  
that the Point Arena Basin offshore from Point Arena is the area of  
highest oil industry interest in Northern California, and the only  
tract here now open to Minerals Management Service offshore oil  
leasing process?

John and Barbara Stephens-Lewallen
Mendocino Sea Vegetable Company
Box 455, Philo,CA 95466
(707)895-2996 fax 895-3270

Press Release
April 1, 2009
Contact: John Lewallen

Fisheries Forum: Chesbro Tells Blue Ribbon Panel to “show me the  
science” requiring new no-take Marine Reserves at Point Arena

Assemblyman Wes Chesbro challenged the Blue Ribbon Task Force which  
proposes to close about forty per cent of offshore fishing areas and  
shore access in the Point Arena area to subsistence fishing and ocean  
food harvesting to “show me the science” driving this push to deny  
Point Arena residents access to sustainable ocean food.

The occasion was the Fisheries Forum on March 26 at the California  
State Capitol, where a delegation of Mendocino fishermen, abalone  
divers and seaweed harvesters went to tell the legislature’s  
Fisheries Committee about the combined threats of livelihood loss and  
offshore oil drilling currently facing the Point Arena community.  
Senator Patricia Wiggins, fisheries committee chair, and Assemblyman  
Wes Chesbro, listened to all testimony.

Point Arena resident Allan Jacobs presented a petition signed by  
hundreds of people whose businesses and livelihoods would be affected  
if proposed new State Marine Reserves and Protected Areas are adopted  
by the California State Fish and Game Commission. Jacobs described a  
community whose fisheries experience and observation was ignored by a  
process determined to prevent Point Arena residents from taking food  
from the intertidal zone or ocean in places harmoniously harvested  
for centuries.

In written and oral testimony, Jim Martin, Mendocino County Fish &  
Game Commissioner, called for the outright “abolition” of the Blue  
Ribbon Task Force which runs the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA)  
process of setting up new no-take zones where nobody can harvest  
ocean food.

“Special interest groups have hijacked the Marine Life Protection  
Act,” testified Commissioner Martin. “The Packard Foundation has  
picked up most of the tab for the public meetings and has influenced  
key policy decisions....the Department of Fish & Game has been  
completely marginalized in the MLPA process....

“Point Arena Pier stands to lose more than any harbor in the north- 
central coast study region” if the Fish & Game Commission carries out  
its declared intention to accept the “Integrated Preferred  
Alternative”(IPA) at an August, 2009 meeting, testified Commissioner  
Martin.

“Point Arena Pier is teetering on the brink of survival....Hemmed in  
by closures to the north and south, the IPA creates a tiny “box” open  
to rockfishing in front of Arena Cove. This box is about four square  
miles. That will be the only area open to commercial and recreational  
groundfish out of Point Arena.”

Assemblyman Wes Chesbro said he had been part of earlier effots  
directed by the Fish and Game Commission to set up the no-take zones  
required by the 1999 Marine Life Protection Act. Assemblyman Chesbro  
said that the marine science required to back the need for no-take  
zones was questionable or absent, so the process had been abandoned.

“Now you propose to close areas to seaweed harvest, affecting the  
livelihood of a seaweed harvesting couple,” Assemblyman Chesbro told  
the advocates of the Integrated Preferred Alternative. “All I’m  
saying is, show me the science.”

“The proposed regulations close nearly half of the shore-based public  
access sites in the region,” testified Mendocino County Fish & Game  
Commissioner Jim Martin. “Our abalone fishery is managed sustainably  
and is one of the world’s last viable abalone fisheries.”

Seaweed harvester John Lewallen declared that “seaweed is not an  
endangered fishery,” and called for suspension of any new no-take  
zones in intertidal areas sustainably harvested for food by people  
for centuries.

“We need to continue the collaborative stewardship management of  
edible seaweed, abalone, and other ocean food resources which have  
worked here, not impose senseless new no-take zones from above,”  
Lewallen said.

Lewallen described the whole MLPA process as a “divide and drill”  
strategy where the only winners are oil companies who want to drill  
for oil off Point Arena.

“Why is Catherine Reheis-Boyd, CEO and Chief of Staff for the Western  
States Petroleum Association, a key member of the five-member MLPA  
Blue Ribbon Task Force which has decreed new zones where people can  
take no food from state waters?” Lewallen asks. “Is it coincidence  
that the Point Arena Basin offshore from Point Arena is the area of  
highest oil industry interest in Northern California, and the only  
tract here now open to Minerals Management Service offshore oil  
leasing process? “

People wishing to contact the Legislative Fisheries Committee with  
relevant information or opinion can send your comment to:

Senator Patricia Wiggins, http://dist02.casen.govoffice.com/ or write  
State Capital, Room 4081 Sacramento, CA 95814 916-323-6958

Assemblyman Wes Chesbro at: http://democrats.assembly.ca.gov/members/ 
a01/ or write State Capital P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA  
94249-0001 916-319-2001

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