Location: Lake Almanor, CA
|Found this via the Eureka Times-Standard. No mention of precisely where these areas were proposed.
Local Marine Reserve Proposal Unanimously Supported
A Blue Ribbon Task Force unanimously endorsed a proposal developed by local fishermen, conservationists and tribes on Tuesday to carve out a series of protected areas off the North Coast to restrict or eliminate fishing and gathering.
At the River Lodge in Fortuna, the task force decided to send the set of marine protected areas unchanged to the California Fish and Game Commission and lauded local interests for their devotion to navigating the Marine Life Protection Act process.
”In all other areas of the state they have been unable to do this,” said task force member Meg Caldwell.
Caldwell read into the record a number of findings that hold that the North Coast's geography and weather make it different than any other region the MLPA Initiative has visited. While the proposal has its shortcomings, she said, the North Coast's unique environment supports the task force's recommendation.
Task force member and Humboldt County 1st District Supervisor Jimmy Smith agreed, saying the remoteness of the coastline and the sparse population make the area different than others.
Locals had hoped that the task force would send the proposal on alone and unchanged, with language meant to resolve issues related to tribal fishing and gathering in the future. But after the California Department of Fish and Game criticized the unified proposal as not being protective enough, task force member Greg Schem introduced a motion that would increase restrictions in some marine protected areas as a separate proposal. Schem said that it would be better to draft the proposal before the Fish and Game Commission meets and said that it was not an attempt to thwart the unified proposal.
Caldwell remarked that the second proposal had not been as thoroughly analyzed as the regional group's. Several members of the public also said that sending a second proposal to Fish and Game undermines the united front local groups had generated through the initial proposal.
The 1999 Marine Life Protection Act called for developing a network of marine reserves, and after two failed attempts by the state to implement it, a public-private partnership called the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative took up the effort, moving from region to region. North Coast interests pushed for a unified proposal they believe will be less likely to be changed by the Fish and Game Commission, which must implement the restrictions.
The unified proposal would result in about 12 percent of the coast from the Albion River to the Oregon border restricted or closed to fishing and gathering, on top of existing fishing regulations.
The task force also developed language meant to address traditional tribal uses in marine protected areas.
Throughout the process, North Coast tribes have held that the state cannot legally regulate such uses, while Fish and Game has said it can't exempt any particular group from the restrictions. A legislative remedy will be needed to correct the problem, but the task force agreed to a motion that signals the intent to create shoreline areas open to traditional tribal uses once the legal issue is resolved by the state.
Recreational Fishing Alliance Executive Director Jim Martin applauded the task force and the regional group for its work, acknowledging the conservation-mindedness of people in the area.
”The social context up here is much different,” Martin said.
After months of deliberations, there appeared to be some sense of relief that this latest stage of the process is over. Comparing the talks to her husband's annual sausage-making effort -- mixing meat and fat while consuming beer -- Petrolia resident Abi Queen told the task force members that they performed their work “with just as much style.”
Queen commended the task force for forwarding the unified proposal to the Fish and Game Commission.
”I think that this thing does have a lot of power, especially if you add your voices to it,” Queen said.
John Driscoll covers natural resources/industry. He can be reached at 441-0504 or email@example.com.[/b]
What cha lookin at my gut fer?