MLPA: A more holistic approach to protecting our ocean resources
Virginia Strom-Martin/For the Times-Standard
Posted: 06/29/2010 01:31:39 AM PDT
As a fifth generation resident, I share a deep connection with my North Coast neighbors. As local citizens, we treasure the breathtaking natural beauty that surrounds us and draw renewed inspiration from the rich history that has woven together this unique community.
I'm not alone when I say the North Coast is truly unique -- it is unlike any other region along California's vast coastline. This is why I have been a lifelong advocate for the community, first as an educator seeking to improve our school system to successfully prepare our next generation of local and national leaders and later as a California State Assembly member, where my interest in maintaining a vibrant ocean economy led me to chair the Joint Legislative Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture.
A more holistic, long-term perspective is required to improve our community livelihood. This is equally true with respect to protecting our ocean resources. Last year I was appointed to the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force to help ensure that local community involvement and knowledge is utilized in the creation of the north coast portion of a statewide network of marine protected areas (MPAs). The MLPA North Coast Study Region encompasses state waters from the California-Oregon border to Alder Creek near Point Arena in Mendocino County.
As the most open and transparent process I have ever been involved in, the MLPA Initiative continues to impress me. The initiative
utilizes every available means to seek the advice of residents every step of the way. It incorporates local expertise along with the best scientific knowledge in an effort to more holistically protect the ocean ecosystem we are highly dependent upon for our food, spiritual traditions, recreational enjoyment and economic livelihoods.
The eight-member task force's role includes ensuring that all voices are heard throughout the north coast MPA planning process. My fellow task force members and I share a mutual interest in ensuring that traditional tribal uses of the ocean are preserved and that negative economic impacts to the North Coast community are minimized to the extent possible. We also hold strong support for MPA ideas that meet the MLPA's science and ecosystem-based protection goals to support long-term success of the statewide network and ideas that receive broad, cross-interest support from the community.
The tough task of developing MPA proposals is currently underway by the diverse interests from Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties represented on the 33-member North Coast regional stakeholder group. The group has developed four draft MPA proposals, which will be further refined following public input provided at a series of public open houses on July 6 through July 8 throughout the North Coast Study Region.
The Humboldt area open houses will be held on Wednesday, July 7, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center in Eureka and on Thursday, July 8, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Redwood National and State Parks South Operations Center in Orick.
Members of the public are invited to attend, at any time, during one of these “open house” events. The events offer stakeholders, MLPA staff and task force members the chance to engage in informal one-on-one conversations with community members to gather input and provide feedback on the four draft MPA proposals developed thus far by the stakeholder group. The stakeholder group members will use this input when they meet later this summer to begin refining their MPA proposals.
At the open houses, you will also have the opportunity to speak with MLPA staff to learn more about the North Coast MPA planning process, have questions answered, and discuss how these MPA ideas will help meet the science and ecosystem goals to improve marine life, habitats and overall ocean health as required by the act.
The success of this effort requires local expertise and input from the diverse perspectives that comprise our unique community. All voices are needed to develop a strong network that works for everyone -- and, most importantly, helps protect the marine life and underwater habitats upon which they depend that are a vital component of our local community.
I hope you will attend one of the upcoming open houses, and continue to provide input until the proposals are completed later this year.
It is only by working together that we can ensure a healthy ocean and successfully teach future generations to be good stewards for our precious community assets.
Virginia Strom-Martin, former Assemblywoman (District 1) and Sonoma coast resident.
My Response: How can a corrupt, privatized fiasco be open and transparent?
Virginia Strom-Martin's claim that the Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's fast track MLPA Initiative is "the most open and transparent process" you have ever been involved with is mind boggling.
The truth is that Schwarzenegger's MLPA Initiative is a privately funded process overseen by oil industry, marina development, real estate and other corporate interests. Rather than truly protecting the ocean as the landmark law originally intended to do, the MLPA Initiative under Schwarzenegger has completely taken water pollution, habitat destruction, oil drilling, wave energy projects and all other human uses of the ocean other than fishing and seaweed harvesting off the table.
I have a series of questions to ask you and other proponents of Schwarzenegger's MLPA process. I asked many of these same questions in response to a recent op-ed by Beth Warner and she failed to respond.
Why did the Governor and MLPA officials install an oil industry lobbyist, a marina developer, a real estate executive and other corporate interests as "marine guardians" to kick Indian Tribes, fishermen and seaweed harvesters, the greatest defenders of the oceans, off the ocean?
Why is 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 and as a member of the BRTF for the North Coast, panels that are supposedly designed to "protect" the ocean, when she has called for new oil drilling off the California coast?
Why has the Initiative shown very little respect for tribal subsistence and ceremonial rights to date? This is an overt violation of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Article 32, Section 2, of the Declaration mandates "free prior and informed consent" in consultation with the indigenous population affected by a state action (http://www.iwgia.org/sw248.asp ).
Why did MLPA staff until recently violate the Bagley-Keene Act and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by banning video and audio coverage of the initiative's work sessions?
Why do the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) and Science Advisory Team continue to violate the California Public Records Act by refusing to respond to numerous requests by Bob Fletcher, former DFG Deputy Director, for key documents and records pertaining to the MLPA implementation process?
Why does the initiative discard the results of any scientists who disagree with the MLPA' 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.
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?
Why are you, a former Democratic legislator, now collaborating with Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the worst Governor for fish and the environment in history, who has presided over the unprecedented collapse of Central Valley chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon, striped bass and other fish populations?
Finally, 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?
"It is only by working together that we can ensure a healthy ocean and successfully teach future generations to be good stewards for our precious community assets," you claim.
How can you possibly conclude that a privately funded initiative filled with so many confllcts of interest and violations of state, federal and international laws will result in a "healthy ocean?"
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