|Dan Hamburg took aim at the MLPA process in an outstanding letter he wrote to the Anderson Valley Advertiser.
Former Congressman Dan Hamburg Slams MLPA Initiative
by Dan Bacher
Dan Hamburg, a North Coast Democratic Congressman from 1992-94 and a Green Party candidate for Governor in 1996, recently blasted Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's fast-track Marine Life Protection (MLPA) process for its many conflicts of interests, private funding and other problems in a great letter to the editor he wrote to the Anderson Valley Advertiser in Boonville.
"Coastal residents — including fishermen, divers and gatherers — have joined together to protest the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI). There is plenty of reason to protest," Hamburg said in his letter, http://theava.com/archives/2825, entitled, "What Protection?"
He then summarized some of the key criticisms made against the MLPA process. The implementation of the MLPA, a law passed in 1999 to protect ocean ecosystems, has become a surrealistic parody of "protection" under the Schwarzenegger administration.
"Jim Martin, vice president of the Salmon Restoration Federation, the Recreation Fishing Association and a member of the Mendocino County Fish and Game Commission, has pointed out many of the foibles of the MLPAI," said Hamburg. "Special interest groups, unaccountable to elected officials, dominate the process. Key policy decisions are made by private foundations rather than the public. And, at a time when the state is broke, Martin asks who will pick up the tab to police a large number of underwater parks."
Hamburg noted how Cindy Arch, a longtime ocean preservation leader, is also disturbed that the MLPAI is being funded “by the charitable arms of huge businesses.” "She foresees aquaculture (farmed fish) as a real possibility for the coast if the initiative isn’t stopped," said Hamburg.
"Author, activist and businessman John Lewallen’s critique is perhaps the most devastating. He sees the MLPAI as a diversion from the real prize — offshore oil," emphasized Hamburg. "He reminds us that while it was during the George W. years that the possibility of drilling off the Mendocino coast reemerged, the Obama administration has done nothing to reinstate a moratorium on the Outer Continental Shelf."
Hamburg said that Lewallen’s concern was "recently amplified" by the appointment of Catherine Reheis-Boyd to the MLPAI’s Blue Ribbon Task Force for the MLPA's North Coast Study Region, a group of supposedly “knowledgeable and highly credible public leaders” selected by Mike Chrisman, Schwarzenegger’s Secretary of Natural Resources. Reheis-Boyd, after serving as chief operating officer and chief of staff of the Western States Petroleum Association, became the association's president on January 1, 2010.
In August, Chrisman selected Reheis Boyd to be the chair of the Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast. She also served on the task force for the North Central Coast, helping to engineer a process that will ban the Kashia Pomo Indian Tribe and other tribes from harvesting seaweed, mussels and abalone as they have done for centuries off Stewarts Point and Point Arena starting April 1.
"I urge everyone in Mendocino County to become familiar with the MLPAI and the process currently underway for the area from Point Arena to the Oregon border," Hamburg concluded. "A good place to start is with Frank Hartzell’s excellent series that ran in the Fort Bragg Advocate-News last summer. Additional information is available on the Albion Harbor Regional Alliance website at albionharbor.org."
Hamburg is a well respected North Coast political leader, environmental advocate and writer. While in Congress, Hamburg authored the Headwaters Forest Act, a bill that passed the House overwhelmingly. After leaving Congress, he was active in the struggle to preserve the 60,000 acre Headwaters Forest Complex.
Since 1997, Hamburg has served as Executive Director of Voice of the Environment, a 501 (c-3) not-for-profit Montana-based corporation formed in 1991. The group's mission is to "educate the public regarding the transfer of public trust assets into private, mostly corporate, hands."
Hamburg joins a growing group of environmentalists, Indian Tribes, commercial fishermen, recreational anglers and elected officials that are challenging Schwarzenegger's MLPA process for its conflicts of interests, mission creep and corruption of the democratic process.
In December, Organic Sacramento, a local environmental and sustainable food group, co-sponsored the "Organic Capital Celebration of Sustainability" with Friends of the River to honor individuals and organizations for their outstanding work on crucial water issues, including the campaigns to restore the Delta and stop the peripheral canal, to stop the Nestle Water Plant in Sacramento and for environmental justice under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA).
The groups honored Atta P. Stephenson, traditional North Coast tribal seaweed harvester, for her dedication to defending tribal fishing and seaweed harvesting rights under the MLPA process, as well as for her many efforts on behalf on environmental water justice. Kim Glazzard of Organic Sacramento also recognized Vern Goehring of the California Fisheries Coalition and Edwin Nieves of the Mendocino Seaweed Stewardship Alliance for the great work they have done to fight for the rights of sustainable fishermen and seaweed harvesters under threat by the MLPA initiative.
The North Coast MLPA process is in its initial stages. The recently appointed MLPA stakeholder group held its first meeting in Eureka on February 7 and 8.
The group includes 32 residents of Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties within the MLPA North Coast Study Region, which encompasses state waters from the California-Oregon border to Alder Creek near Point Arena in Mendocino County. The stakeholder group includes "representatives of recreational angling and diving groups, tribes, commercial fishing and other ocean-dependent business interests, ports and harbors, conservation groups, educational and research interests, and government agencies," according to a news release from the MLPA Initiative.
Real environmentalists oppose the attempt by Schwarzenegger and his collaborators to kick commercial fishermen, tribal seaweed harvesters, commercial seaweed harvesters and recreational anglers and divers off public trust ocean waters to clear a path for offshore oil rigs, wave energy projects and corporate aquaculture. They support those who are fighting for social and environmental justice both inside and outside of the MLPA process.
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