|Don't tread on me
[Eureka] The Times-Standard
Posted: 09/03/2010 01:28:27 AM PDT
After hundreds of hours locked in discussions most of them didn't want to have, regional representatives involved in the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative performed an impressive feat of negotiation by putting together a single plan for areas restricted to fishing and gathering off the Northern California coast.
They deserve to be congratulated and admired for their dedication and their ability to compromise. The regional stakeholder group sent a strong message to the Blue Ribbon Task Force that can make changes to the proposal before sending it upstream for approval by the California Fish and Game Commission. It is effectively a “Don't tread on me” proposal, telling decision makers that they face a united front that will not take kindly to alterations to their plan.
The regional group may have been able to minimize the damage the 1999 MLPA will do once it's implemented. It is clear, however, that they were unable to eliminate the damage; some people will lose areas where they used to fish or gather mussels and seaweed. Some of these people are sport fishermen, some subsistence gatherers and some people engaged in commercial fisheries that hang by a thread in an ocean already heavily regulated.
How did the state get to the point where a well-endowed private foundation -- the Resources Legacy Foundation -- came to play such a vital role in taking away people's ability to harvest seafood? How can it be that the vague guidelines called for bythe MLPA could be applied the same way over California's incredibly diverse coast? How could the process ignore altogether existing fishing regulations that shut or restrict fishing in Northern California, or the fact that much of the North Coast is a de facto marine reserve due to weather and isolation?
The process has died twice before, when Fish and Game met such stiff opposition that it was deemed unworkable. It was only through the influence of private foundations, which finance or influence some of the very organizations participating in the planning process, that the MLPA Initiative was born and had the resources to bore through the opposition. Local people up and down the coast were given a choice to participate or not, and if they hadn't, the end result would certainly have been more harmful.
The people of California should think long and hard about how private money is used to prop up law created by elected officials who are at least accountable at the ballot box. Should lawmakers ever pass legislation they can't afford? Or should they open the door to private interests to direct the process in the direction they want it to go? It's an age-old question.
For now, we congratulate the regional representatives in the process for participating and taking some of the sting out of the Marine Life Protection Act. And we send the same message upstream to the Blue Ribbon Task Force and the California Fish and Game Commission: “Don't tread on me.”
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