Mar 8 2011

Tribal Seas

State officials search for ways to respect marine habitats and native fishing rights

Trinidad Head PHOTO BY RYAN BURNS

BY RYAN BURNS

It’s been almost a dozen years since the California legislature approved the Marine Life Protection Act, a momentous piece of legislation designed to help coastal ecosystems rebound from decades of overfishing and ecological abuse. The Act was based on a model that’s proved effective elsewhere, including the oceans off New Zealand and the Great Barrier Reef, where fishing is limited or prohibited inside designated marine reserves. Establishing such a network of Marine Protected Areas here in California has been slow and tumultuous as virtually every resident with a toe in the Pacific has lodged objections to the process or the outcome or both.

The latest attempt to unravel the work done so far came last week when a group of southern California fishermen filed suit against the state Fish and Game Commission. The anglers argue that the MLPA work completed in their region last year should be nullified because the process violated the California Environmental Quality Act. Tensions between commercial fishermen and environmentalists have accompanied nearly every step of the MLPA initiative.

Read the rest of the story here.

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