Sacramento, CA - April 6, 2010 - Disappointed by actions taken by the California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) during its March meeting, the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans -- a broad group of organizations representing the interests of recreational anglers and boaters in the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process -- is calling upon the commission to reverse its current direction and give fair and equal consideration to all four South Coast marine protected areas (MPAs) proposals as originally promised. The Commission will be meeting in Monterey, CA on April 7-8, 2010.
The original intent of the MLPA, which passed in 1999, was to reevaluate and redesign existing MPAs located in state waters in an effort to increase ocean conservation. MPAs provide an additional, but potentially unnecessary, layer of resource protection by restricting or prohibiting recreational and commercial fishing.
"The Fish and Game Commission has gone back on its word," said Patty Doerr, Ocean Resource Policy Director for the American Sportfishing Association and a PSO member. "Up until the March meeting, the commission said that the South Coast regulatory process would be fair, transparent and mirror the process used in the North Central Coast. Then, three months into the process, the commission changed the rules of the game by advancing only one MPA proposal for regulatory assessment, relegating three other proposals to alternate status with no opportunity of further consideration."
"The commission has definitely sent mixed messages about the South Coast process," commented PSO member Steve Fukuto, president of United Anglers of Southern California. "During the March meeting, Commissioner Mike Sutton reaffirmed the commission's pledge for a fair and equal process, stating that, 'We're [FGC] not doing anything different this time around than we've done in the previous two iterations in the two previous study regions of the MLPA....I wouldn't favor doing anything differently in this region [South Coast] than we've done before because I don't think it's necessary.'"
Fukuto further said, "However, at that same meeting, Commissioner Sutton joined Commissioners Rogers and Benninghoven in voting to single-out only one MPA proposal as worthy of the commission's full consideration. This is a blatant betrayal of the public's trust and further exposes the bias in the MLPA implementation process."
"In the end the commission's March action only serves to heighten the suspicions that the MLPA process is flawed, biased and comes with a $30 million annual price tag for monitoring and enforcement," said Ken Franke, President of the Sportfishing Association of California and PSO Member. "If California does not have the funds available to conduct a proper evaluation protocol, ensuring fairness for all, then the process should be halted until it does."
A copy of the PSO's letter to the Fish and Game Commission can be found at www.keepamericafishing.org/documents/04-07-2010_PSO_Letter_to_FGC.pdf