Location: Noyo Harbor
|RLFF's big grant creates big waves
Partnership unhappy, removes UASC leader
By Ed Zieralski
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE
October 19, 2008
Once the California state legislature's Little Orphan Annie, the Marine Life Protection Act now is going full speed thanks to an environmentalist-backed Daddy Warbucks paying the bills.
The MLPA, which calls for a network of marine reserves along California's coastline, is being funded by the environmentalist-driven Resources Legacy Fund Foundation (RLFF). The RLFF, with its various foundations, has contributed more than $7.2 million to the MLPA process to keep it going.
To complicate and confound matters, the RLFF kicked over $200,000 in August to the United Anglers of Southern California (UASC), a group of recreational fishermen who would be impacted by ocean closures for marine reserves.
Going into the MLPA process in the South Coast Region, UASC President Tom Raftican and his estimated 40,000 members were part of the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans. Raftican shared ideas and agreed to raise money to fund studies, fight closures and keep fishermen fishing as much as possible along Southern California.
But when the Partnership, a group of fishing industry leaders, found out Raftican took a $200,000 grant from the RLFF and never mentioned it, the members sought answers from Raftican.
Raftican's response, according to one Partnership member who wished to remain anonymous, was that the money was for angler outreach. Raftican's answer wasn't good enough for the members of the Partnership, so Raftican and the UASC were voted out.
“We had philosophical differences and decided to part ways with United Anglers of Southern California,” the Partnership member said.
As a matter of background, the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans was formed by some of the top ocean fishing conservation groups in the state and nation. It includes the American Sportfishing Association, Berkley Conservation Institute, Coastside Fishing Club, International Fish and Game Association, Kayak Fishing Association of California, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Northern California Kayak Anglers, Southern California Marine Association and the Sportfishing Association of California.
Raftican confirmed this week that he accepted the $200,000 grant from the RLFF. He said he has taken much more money from them over the years in other grants. He didn't have the exact figure, but he said he received grants from RLFF to fight bottom trawling and other issues that threaten recreational fishing. He said he accepted the grant in August, but couldn't share it with the Partnership because the grant money was targeted for United Anglers, not the Partnership.
Raftican said he plans to use the grant money – $100,000 this year and $100,000 next year – to continue UASC's goals – maintain access for fishermen and ensure there are fish to be caught by future generations of fishermen. He said he'll also use the money to employ policy wonk Bob Osborn on a full-time basis and cover his expenses to be on the South Coast Regional Stakeholders group.
Both UASC and key members of the Partnership vowed to continue working for fishermen's rights and to fight fishing closures. It's just that these two groups won't be working together.
That's unfortunate and couldn't come at a worse time.
The South Coast Region part of the MLPA process promises to be the most contentious of all five regions because of the amount of fishing areas and people who use them.
As for the future of United Anglers of Southern California, one has to wonder how the fishing community will react when it learns a membership to United Anglers of Southern California gets them associated with the very group, the RLFF, that fishing groups know hijacked and is funding the MLPA process.
There is a clear sense that the DFG and the state's Resources Department are beholding to the RLFF and its environmental fund sources to create as many no-fishing marine reserves as they can.
Now United Anglers of Southern California is being funded by a foundation that the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans and others knowledgeable about the process do not consider recreational or commercial fishing-friendly.
That's why the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans booted United Anglers of Southern California out. Raftican can spin it any way he wants, but he and his group now are beholding to the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation. And how he balances that with issues regarding his 40,000 fishermen-members in UASC will be interesting to watch.
Ed Zieralski: (619) 293-1225; email@example.com
Recreational Fishing Alliance