Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Benefits California’s Environment and Economy


Posted on 16 March 2011

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By Warner Chabot
California League of Conservation Voters

The Marine Life Protection Act makes California a leader in smart and forward-thinking management of valuable ocean resources. In a time when we’ve already taken 90 percent of the world’s big fish, our state is looking ahead, and investing in the long-term health of our economically and ecologically vital coastal waters by creating a network of marine protected areas along the length of the coast. And we’re doing it using the best available marine science.

Unfortunately there are some in the fishing industry intent on keeping us stuck in the old, reactive ways of managing the ocean. While marine protected areas preserve key habitat, and allow a variety of plants and animals to flourish, old regulations focused on one species at a time, or intervened only when a crisis was upon us.  As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  And that’s why these ocean sanctuaries are a good deal for current and future generations of Californians.

MLPA opponents know that the will of the people and the science are against them, so they try, as Dan Bacher did in his March 1 article, to shift the conversation away from science and a healthy ocean towards a manufactured political witch hunt.

Bacher is in league with the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans, an Orwellian-named fishing industry group that has sought to undermine ocean protection efforts all over the country. The PSO isn’t motivated by the need to ensure future generations of Californians inherit a healthy ocean; they want to sell fishing gear. You can read more about the PSO’s underhanded efforts at http://www.somethingsfishyaboutpso.com/.

Let’s get back on track. The Marine Life Protection Act is about the science, and there’s an enormous body of scientific research from all over the world showing that marine protected areas work to rebuild fisheries and improve overall ocean health. According to a peer-reviewed study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year, the Channel Islands marine reserve network, created in 2002, is already helping to restore fish populations depleted by overfishing: rockfish numbers are up by 50 percent, and their size by 80 percent.

Bacher suggests in his article that California is somehow immune to the dangers of overfishing. It is true, as he says, that California’s waters are healthy and productive compared to other parts of the world. But this is no time to rest on our laurels.  The demand for fresh seafood is growing, and fishing technology improving, which means we have to make advances in resource management as well to secure a sustainable future for California’s ocean.  Studies show that fish are smaller and there are fewer of them over the past 20 years, even in well-managed places like California.

And in the same Science magazine study Bacher referenced to suggest California has no need for marine protected areas, Dr. Ray Hilborn says “Overfishing is a leading environmental and socioeconomic problem—it hurts biodiversity and alters ecosystems.”  And he goes on to name marine protected areas as a leading solution.

Note that to Hilborn, the problem of overfishing isn’t just an environmental problem – it has economic impacts as well, and something people in coastal California know all too well. A number of studies have found that well-designed marine protected area networks can increase fishing yields and profits.

But fishing interests aren’t the only ones with an economic stake in ocean management. Ocean protection is essential to protecting and growing California’s coastal tourism and recreation based economy. In California alone, more than 400,000 people have jobs tied to coastal tourism and recreation, an industry that contributes over $22 billion to the overall state economy according to a study by the National Ocean Economics Program.

We shouldn’t let Dan Bacher and his cynical colleagues at the PSO hijack California’s ocean protection efforts to benefit corporate fishing interests. Anyone who participated in the recently concluded public process for establishing marine protected areas for southern California knows that the vast majority of public comments supported the MLPA and these science-based protections.

The ocean belongs to everyone, and we have a responsibility to ensure it is managed sustainably and responsibly.

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Warner Chabot is the CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters.

This article shows the desperation of of liars about to be discovered. If folks would look at the REAL science and investigate for themselves, like I have, they will see right through these twisted lies, as I do.

Don't take anyones word for it...learn it yourself and you'll see how obvious it is. This new MLPAI is nothing more than a revenue service to establish private science aquariums for unemployed marine biologists to play on your tax dollar.

The article calling Dan Bacher and anti-Semite is the icing on the cake.

""""------- MLPA opponents know that the will of the people and the science are against them, so they try, as Dan Bacher did in his March 1 article, to shift the conversation away from science and a healthy ocean towards a manufactured political witch hunt.

Bacher is in league with the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans, an Orwellian-named fishing industry group that has sought to undermine ocean protection efforts all over the country. The PSO isn’t motivated by the need to ensure future generations of Californians inherit a healthy ocean; they want to sell fishing gear. You can read more about the PSO’s underhanded efforts at http://www.somethingsfishyaboutpso.com/. -----------""""""

Mr. Chabot,

With all due respect sir, if you folks would answer Mr. Bachers "Questions About the MLPAI"- it would be much easier to listen to your side of this.

I have a ton of paperwork in front of me that says several things in this article are outright lies, SIR!

Rhetoric Warner, plain old rhetoric.

Warner

The only thing "Orwellian" in the MLPA debate is the persistent disinformation spread by yourself and others that opponents of the MLPA Initiative are somehow against "ocean protection" and support "overfishing."

Fishermen, Tribes and grassroots environmentalists all agree that the oceans should be protected - it's how they should be protected where people disagree. To call anybody who criticizes Schwarzenegger's MLPA Initiative as a tool of "foreign" (translation: Japanese) or "corporate" fishing interests, as MLPA Initiative advocates have repeatedly done, is ridiculous and highly offensive. This is truly an "Orwellian" use of language that "Big Brother" would have been proud of.

In fact, criticism of the MLPA Initiative is diverse and wide-ranging. MLPA critics have included members of over 50 Indian Tribes, grassroots environmental and environmental justice organizations such as the Ocean Protection Coalition, North Coast Seaweed Rebellion, Coastal Justice Coalition, Klamath Justice Coalition, recreational fishing organizations and commercial fishing groups and many state, regional and local elected officials on the North Coast.

One of the biggest criticisms is the type of "protection" that the marine protected areas create. In contrast with the spirit and letter of the original law, the MLPA Initiative has taken water pollution, oil spills and drilling, military testing, corporate aquaculture, habitat destruction and all other impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering off the table in its bizarre concept of marine protection. The Initiative provides very limited "protection" of waters that are faced with a wide array of threats.

I challenge you and other MLPA advocates to answer the 10 big questions that proponents of the controversial, privately funded process refuse to answer.

The one I'm most interested in hearing the answer to is this one: Why was Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, allowed to make decisions as the chair of the BRTF for the South Coast, a panel that is supposedly designed to “protect” the ocean, when she has called for new oil drilling off the California coast? How can anybody possibly consider a process overseen by a lobbyist for big oil to be legitimate?

In my 28 years of journalism covering fish and water in California, the MLPA Initiative is the most corrupt process that I have ever covered. Here are the questions I have posed to MLPA Initiative advocates and officials regarding the many flaws in the MLPA process.

1. Why did Schwarzenegger and MLPA officials install an oil industry lobbyist, a marina developer, a real estate executive and other corporate operatives with numerous conflicts of interest on the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces to remove fishermen, Tribal gatherers and seaweed harvesters from the water by creating so-called “marine protected areas” (MPAs)?

2. Why was Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, allowed to make decisions as the chair of the BRTF for the South Coast, a panel that is supposedly designed to “protect” the ocean, when she has called for new oil drilling off the California coast?

3. Why has the MLPA Initiative taken water pollution, oil spills and drilling, military testing, corporate aquaculture, habitat destruction and all other impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering off the table in its bizarre concept of marine protection?

4. Why is a private corporation, the shadowy Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, being allowed to privatize ocean resource management in California through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the DFG?

5. Why do MLPA staff and the California Fish and Game Commission refuse to hear the pleas of the representatives of the California Fish and Game Wardens Association, who oppose the creation of any new MPAs until they have enough funding for wardens to patrol existing reserves?

6. Why were there no Tribal scientists on the MLPA Science Advisory Team and why were there no Tribal representatives on the Blue Ribbon Task Forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast or South Coast MLPA Study Regions? How can you say that "science" guided the process when no Tribal scientists have been appointed to the Science Advisory Team since the process was privatized in 2004?

7. Why does the initiative discard the results of any scientists who disagree with the MLPA’s pre-ordained conclusions? These include the peer reviewed study by Dr. Ray Hilborn, Dr. Boris Worm and 18 other scientists, featured in Science magazine in July 2009, that concluded that the California current had the lowest rate of fishery exploitation of any place studied on the planet. These also include studies and data compiled by Yurok Tribe biologists and lawyers that differ with the MLPA's pre-ordained conclusions.

8. Why did the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force hold illegal secret meetings, including those held in April 2007 and on November 3, 2008, December 10, 2008, February 25, 2009, October 20, 21 and 22, 2009, as revealed in a 25 page document presented to the California Fish and Game Commission on February 2? This doesn't sound to me like an "open, transparent and inclusive" process, as you and others have constantly claimed the MLPA process is.

9. Why did it take a lawsuit by a coalition of fishing organizations to get the emails and correspondence by MLPA officials documenting these private, non-public meetings disclosed to the public?

10. Why did it take the outrage over the arrest of an independent journalist last spring to open work sessions of the MLPA to coverage by video-journalists?

For information about the big corporate money behind the MLPA process, go to: http://redgreenandblue.org/2011/02/21/tracing-the-big-money-behind-calis....

Probably like a lot of readers, I'm tired of this back and forth and name calling and all the drama. But, I do agree with Mr. Chabot's basic points. Ocean protection is a no-brainer. It's good for fishing. And, even more importantly for the state as a whole, it is good for tourism and recreation businesses, which produce a whole lot more money and jobs. Anyone who tries to block the creation of marine reserves is either foolish or shortsighted, and it seems we just have a very vocal minority in this state that want to quibble over process b/c they can't see what's plain in front of them.

Three cheers for the folks that have the vision and guts to lead on this important issue!

What the man says is true - scientific studies around the world show that protected areas work to restore ecosystems and ensure an abundant ocean for the future.

This article stated the following about California's Channel Islands successful marine reserves, which are "helping to restore fish populations depleted by overfishing: rockfish numbers are up by 50 percent, and their size by 80 percent."

The author leaves out an important point - that fishermen did NOT sacrifice nearly as much as they thought they would have. In fact, recreational fishing trips to the islands have increased since reserves went into place; and commercial fishing has stayed the same or in some cases gotten better.

There's something similar going on here: the cost of marine reserves is being grossly overstated by their opponents; while their benefits are being understated.

Thanks for finally speaking some truth to this issue.

WatermanSF

"What the man says is true - scientific studies around the world show that protected areas work to restore ecosystems and ensure an abundant ocean for the future."

Yes, marine protected areas that provide comprehensive protection do work. That is a safe statement that just about anybody, including myself, can definitely agree with! I'm completely opposed to the overfishing of sensitive fish stocks and I have supported a number of closures and regulations to protect marine and anadromous fisheries over the past two decades.

However, where the disagreement comes is the type and scope of protection that will be provided. The essential problem is that the MLPA Initiative doesn't provide the comprehensive, wholistic protection that is now needed to preserve marine ecosystems.

The initiative's "marine protected areas" don't protect the ocean from oil drilling and spills, water pollution, wave energy projects, corporate aquaculture, habitat destruction and other human impacts other than fishing and gathering. That's bad public policy, especially when oil industry, marina development and real estate interests are on the panels overseeing the implementation of the law.

One other key factor MLPA Initiative officials refuse to acknowledge is the existence of one of the largest marine protected areas in the world that stretches the entire length of the continental shelf of California from Oregon to Mexico. This giant marine protected area, the Rockfish Conservation Zone, was created a decade ago to stop overfishing, yet its existence hasn't factored into the MLPA process.

MLPA Initiative advocates constantly refuse to address the questions that myself and others have regarding the many flaws in the process. They pretend these flaws don't exist, instead constantly repeating generic statements that the MLPA process is "open, transparent and inclusive" when 25 pages of documents of secret, illegal meetings prove that it isn't.

When will MLPA Initiative backers finally show some courage to admit that there are serious flaws in the process? When will they face up to the fact that Schwarzenegger appointing a big oil lobbyist to be chair of the South Coast Task Force and to serve on the North Coast and North Central Coast panels was wrong? When will they acknowledge that refusing to appoint tribal scientists to the Science Advisory Team and not appointing any tribal representatives to the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force until 2010 Coast is really bad policy?

We have a new Governor in office, Jerry Brown, and a new Resources Secretary, John Laird. It's time for MLPA Initiative advocates to face up to the many flaws in the MLPA process and work to reverse these wrongs.

A special investigative hearing regarding the conflicts on interests and bad policy decisions made under the Schwarzenegger administration in the implementation of the MLPA should be convened by the Governor and Natural Resources Secretary.

This isn't about somebody "losing their favorite fishing spot," as Chabot once claimed - it's about about democratic process and environmental justice! The MLPA Initiative is a symptom of a greater problem in our society - the erosion of democracy and the increasing privatization of public services and policy.

We've seen Bacher's comments calling the US a "terrorist state" and suggesting that the founders of Israel thought the Holocaust was a good thing. How can anybody believe ANYTHING Dan Bacher writes? It's a shame CA Progress Report keeps publishing his rants.

Clearly MLPA's are not effective in restoring fisheries...
In the absence of recreational salmon fishing, private boats have moved into the few remaining non-protected areas such as Monterey, Mendocino, Shelter Cove, and Crescent City and cleaned the bottom fish out. what California needs is a sustainable fishery.

Way back in 2005 there were an estimated 1 million adults in the system, unlike rock fish Salmon are a fast growing species, salmon can be harvested annually with out decimating the population, salmon are essential to human health and no, fish farms are not the answer either.

California needs to manage its resources effectively, stop exploiting every watershed, and allow extremist environmental advocates like Dan Bacher the opportunity to fish for his beloved salmon, just like he did way back in the early part of this century - six years ago - when most senators and legislators didn't even recognize his name!

Ray Hilburn was one of the first Scientists to call Boris Worms' claim that 90% of the large Ocean are caught very weak science. It was his and other qualified Fishery Biologists questioning Womrs' clams that lead to the groundbreaking study that was released in Science magazine caleled "Rebuilding Global Fisheries" which found that the California Coast is already well managed and mostly rebuilt, which happened before the MLPA went into effect directly as the rsult of traditional fishereis management measures. What Dr Hilburn did say about marine protected areas was that they are a useful tool is areas of the World Oceans where there is little fisheries management to begin with.

Chabot contiues the tired old bigoted claims against fishing groups that we expect to fish at will and destroy what is out there, what a defamation and bigoted view he has. The MLPA has only put some areas off limits to fishing which does nothing to stop pollution from plastics, Ag runoff and sewage created dead zones. He tries to continue to represent PSO as some International Industrial fishing conglomerate when the main members simply make recreational fishing tackle.

Wow, what a bunch lies, dear sir. What type of scientific studies are you manipulating to say the things you do? There are lies, damn lies, and statistics. Being a statistics instructor, I understand that you are manipulating studies the way you need to in order to say what you want to say. So where is the proof that these MLPA's will do what you say they will? How is shutting down fishing going to IMPROVE our economy? I can already think of a dozen areas where fishing is their whole economy. The MLPA zone will destroy these areas, and they will become ghost towns. According to statistically significant scientific studies, California has one of the healthiest, SUSTAINABLE fisheries in the world. Bag limits, as well as strict enforcement of these limits, are all that is needed for our coastal waters. These MLPA zones are ridiculous and should be considered illegal. They are going to have a major economic impact, but not in the direction you say. They will actually HURT California's economy. Get rid of these MLPA zones and continue managing our waters with bag limits and strict enforcement, which have been and will continue to be the successful way to manage our fisheries.

Ok I've been reading about all of this MLPA for about 8 m,onths now. I've doine my own research. One thing that is very apparent is that the whole process has been corrupt. From political manipulation by the past govener to the secret meetings that have taken place illegaly. I have yet to find this science that supports an MLPA. Now on your facebook page someone has ask 10 very simple questions. Is there a reason why YOU DON'T ADDRESS EVEN ONE OF THEM? I think there is! I don't believe you can answer any of the questions honestly, use facts and still say your pro-MLPA position is not a currupt process and that there is enough science to support an MLPA. I THINK IF YOU REALLY LOOK INTO WHO AND WHAT IS BEHIND THIS MLPA PROCESS YOU WOULD FIND THAT YOU HAVE BEEN DOOPED!!!!

"Partnership for Sustainable Oceans, an Orwellian-named fishing industry group".......that's rich! There is no more corrupt entity involved in this process that the corporate Pew/Packard and their millions of dollars that have bought the off the slanted, incomplete "science" and the original intent of the law passed in 1999. Just look at the manipulation by the previous Governor and an oil industry spokeswomen as head of the Blue Ribbon Task Force. No wonder it's in Court.

Ad Hominem: attacking the arguer instead of the argument.

Why attack Scientists and Journalists that study the oceans and report the corruption?

Let's talk the truth here. Violations of the MOU, violations of the Bagley-Keene Act, violations of the California Public Records Act, violations of treaties between sovereign nations etc. These were not violations committed by the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans, these are the alleged actions of the Blue Ribbon Task Force and the MLPAI. You can call it a witchhunt to bring these to the attention of the public but that seems a bit silly don't you think?

You speak of economic benefit, but no benefit has been shown. We have seen economic hardship to the very communities that the MLPA claims to help.

Why has the MLPAI ignored it's mandate to protect our oceans from pollution and land development? Perhaps it is because the people making the decisions are coastal land developers and oil lobbyists that sit on the BRTF.

Mr Chabot, you have some amusing empty rhetoric, but don't be fooled or help fool the public into thinking that the MLPA is some sort of wonderful tool to protect the oceans when in fact what it protects is the large corporations, offshore drilling interests, real estate developers and other corporate interests that have pumped money into it.