Sep 15 2011

South Coast ocean closures not approved by state’s law office

Written by Ed Zieralski

In what is a blow to environmental groups who seek fishing closures off the coast of California, the marine protected areas called for by theMarine Life Protection Act’s South Coast Region have been disapproved by the state’s Office of Administrative Law (OAL).

The third set of marine protected areas established by the MLPA process will be delayed by months or more, according to a high-ranking Department of Fish and Game official who requested anonymity. The OAL has ordered the Department of Fish and Game and the MLPA Initiative team to correct what it calls deficiencies in the MLPA’s final documents. The flaws must be fixed before the closures are approved, according to a document released Friday by the OAL.

The OAL listed several reasons it did not approve the closures. Included among them is the MLPA staff’s failure to provide reasons for rejecting alternative proposals for closures. Another reason listed is the MLPA’s Initiative team’s failure to adequately respond to all of the public comments regarding the proposed closures.

The ruling came 17 days before the entire process will be on trial in San Diego Superior Court. Bob Fletcher, a former state Fish and Game assistant director and one-time president of the Sportfishing Association of California, and the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans sued the MLPA Initiative team for what the suit calls a mishandling of the process. The trial is set for Sept. 26.

Read the rest on SignOnSanDiego.com.

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