[env-trinity] Article Submission: Senate Majority Leader Calls for Oversight Hearing on MLPA Process (Revised)

Dan Bacher danielbacher at fishsniffer.com
Sun Apr 12 14:50:05 PDT 2009

Senate Majority Leader Calls for Oversight Hearing on MLPA Process

by Dan Bacher

Dean Florez (D-Shafter), the California Senate Majority Leader, said  
he will conduct a Senate Oversight Hearing this year about conflict  
of interest and “mission creep” in the Marine Life Protection Act  
(MLPA) process during his keynote address at the Coastside Fishing  
Club dinner in San Mateo on March 28.

Florez said that he and other Senators plan to ask some “very  
tough” questions of Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman and Mike  
Sutton, Fish and Game Commission member, about the Marine Life  
Protection Act (MLPA) process. These questions include why the MLPA  
has been expanded from a $250,000 process to a $35 million fiasco  
that is threatening the economy and fisheries on the North Central  

“I’ve found that when you call a hearing, things get fixed really  
quickly,” said Florez. “For example, when we announced a hearing  
in response to complaints about EDD’s processing of unemployment  
claims, the department changed its operations, including opening on  
weekends. Imagine what will happen will happened when we hold a  
hearing on the MLPA process.”

He emphasized that the Senators had a lot of questions for Mike  
Sutton including asking, “Who do you work for?”

Many recreational and commercial fishermen and grassroots  
environmentalists believe that it’s wrong for Sutton to make  
decisions about the MLPA when Julie Packard’s Monterey Bay Aquarium  
employs him. The Aquarium is funded by the David and Lucile Packard  
Foundation, as is the MLPA process.

“We believe in transparency and the Legislature was told that  
science would guide the MPLA process,” said Florez. “I believe  
that plain, old fashioned oversight will turn this situation around.”

He said that the funding of the MLPA by a private entity, the  
Resource Legacy Foundation, “really has to be looked at.”

“We have to look at all of the relationships,” said Florez.  
“Nobody thought the MLPA would become a process where the coast is  
closed first and the science is done later. Politics, not policy,  
have led this issue. I believe that your cause is right.”

He urged anglers to write letters about their concerns and to attend  
the hearings when they are announced. “If one-quarter of the people  
in this room went to the hearing, we would have every Senator  
there,” Florez emphasized. “What changes policy are the people who  
show up. The people who show up win!”

He said that he would come to the dinner next year, get back on stage  
and inform Coastside membership how “far we got” in addressing the  
inequities in the MLPA. In the meantime, he urged anglers to send him  
letters about their concerns with the MLPA at dflorez [at] yahoo.com.

“MPAs can have a place,” said Gordon Robertson, vice-president of  
the American Sportfishing Association, who spoke after Florez, “but  
they must be steeped in science. The MLPA has to be a public process  
with no hidden agenda.”

During the dinner, Coastside founder Bob Franko presented a $14,000  
check to the San Francisco Tyee Club, founded in 1938, for their  
years of work on behalf of restoring salmon. The group raises Chinook  
salmon in pens for release into San Francisco Bay.

“This is our best year ever, with 85,000 fish to be released,”  
said Brook Halsey of the San Francisco Tyee Foundation. “Up until  
now we have released 60,000 fish in grow-out pens every year.“

Note: Although Senator Florez' call for an investigation into the  
MLPA process is very good news, his recently introduced $15 billion  
water bond bill, SB 301, must be opposed because it would fund  
"conveyance" - a peripheral canal - and more dams.

Grassroots Enviros, Fishermen Protest MLPA Greenwashing at Fisheries  

The MLPA greenwashing process was the most contentious issue during  
the Joint Legislative Committee on Fisheries & Aquaculture, chaired  
by State Senator Patricia Wiggins (D – Santa Rosa) on March 26 at  
the State Capitol.

The forum took place while California's fish populations are in their  
greatest crisis ever. Central Valley Chinook salmon, delta smelt,  
longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish populations have  
declined to record low population levels, largely due to policies  
pursued by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who portrays himself as  
the “Green Governor" and has promoted the peripheral canal and no  
fishing zones as the "solutions" to collapsing fisheries. It is no  
coincidence that the same guy, Phil Isenberg, was the chair of both  
Schwarzenegger's MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force and the Delta Vision  
Task Force.

Ken Wiseman, executive director of the MLPA Initiative, Cindy  
Gustafson, Chair of the Fish and Game Commission, and Kaitlin Gaffney  
of the Ocean Conservancy all gushed about Schwarzenegger’s MLPA  
process as supposedly being “open and transparent.”

However, the real environmentalists in the room – as opposed to some  
corporate-funded "environmental" groups that support massive fishery  
closures – ripped the process for being an out-of control process  
that lacked any form of accountability to the public and the  

Jim Martin, West Coast Regional Director of the Recreational Fishing  
Alliance, in blistering testimony, slammed the MLPA process for  
causing disproportionate economic impacts to Point Arena, proposing  
regulations far exceeding the funding available and for using private  
funding has biased the process and circumvents the Legislature’s  
oversight. He urged the Committee to restore the role of the  
Department of Fish and Game, abolish the Blue Ribbon Task Force and  
to amend the MLPA.

“The legislation you passed in 1999 was not supposed to be a  
financial disaster for coastal communities,” Martin said. “It was  
not supposed to close 40% of the best fishing grounds. It was not  
supposed to threaten the $1.3 billion dollar saltwater recreational  
fishery or the $130 million commercial fishery. It was not supposed  
to cost California thousands of jobs."

“It was not supposed to cost $400 million in the next ten years, and  
on into eternity,” he continued. “It was not supposed to cut off  
so much shore-based access that it threatens to destroy the $10  
million abalone fishery. Finally, it was not supposed to be a biased  
process that ignores the social and financial losses to fishing  
communities, or assume that endless amounts of bag money will be  
available to fund this experiment.”

John Lewallen, longtime North Coast environmentalist and sustainable  
seaweed harvester, and others testified how the proposed fishing  
closures would devastate a coastal economy already ripped apart by  
salmon and rockfish season closures. He also urged the Committee to  
investigate conflict of interest in the MLPA process. 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 that has decreed new zones where people can  
take no food from state waters?," asked Lewallen. "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?"

Assemblyman Wes Chesbro agreed with the concerns posed by Martin,  
Lewallen and others. “I’m skeptical of this process,” he said.  
“I’ve spent my whole time defending the North Coast and the people  
who are most impacted by the marine protected areas do more to  
restore the environment than anybody. I worry what will happen when  
the people who do the most to protect our fisheries and environment  
are gone.”

Chesbro said he had been part of earlier efforts directed by the Fish  
and Game Commission to set up the no-take zones required by the 1999  
Marine Life Protection Act. Chesbro also stated 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.”

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

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

Assemblyman Wes Chesbro at: http://democrats.assembly.ca.gov/members/ 
a01/ or write State Capitol P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA  
94249-0001 916-319-2001 
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://www2.dcn.org/pipermail/env-trinity/attachments/20090412/32c45cac/attachment-0002.html
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: MLPA Investigation Article.doc
Type: application/octet-stream
Size: 210432 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://www2.dcn.org/pipermail/env-trinity/attachments/20090412/32c45cac/MLPAInvestigationArticle-0001.obj
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://www2.dcn.org/pipermail/env-trinity/attachments/20090412/32c45cac/attachment-0003.html

More information about the env-trinity mailing list