California’s governor asked to suspend MLPA designation process

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Partnership for Sustainable Oceans, an organization that represents recreational fishing and boating interests, has asked California’s Gov. Schwarzenegger to suspend the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) planning and implementation process, citing a lack of financial and scientific resources to support the designation of marine protected areas (MPAs), it reported in a recent statement.

“To move forward with the MLPA planning and implementation without the necessary resources to ensure a truly successful implementation and monitoring process places an unfair economic burden on the recreational fishing and boating industries and the local communities that depend on fishing and boating, and will also result in additional economic burdens for the state,” said Patty Doerr, Ocean Resource Policy director for the American Sportfishing Association, a PSO member. “If the science is not available to support an objective process, then the funds must be allocated. If the funds are not available; then the process should be suspended until the state can carry through with its promise for a fair, truly science-based designation and implementation process.”

The PSO said it has additional concerns, given the state’s dire fiscal circumstance, that there is not enough money to both plan and implement the MLPA in a manner consistent with both the law and the promises made to the recreational fishing and boating communities.

California’s State Legislative Joint Budget Committee recently voted to pull all general fund support – $4.8 million – for the MLPA, and Doerr suggested that the committee’s desire to back-fill those funds with bond funds dedicated to the Ocean Protection Council “faces hurdles in the coming months.” The $4.8 million budgeted for FY 2009-2010 is only for the planning portion of the MLPA, according to PSO.

“The MLPA’s real cost will be borne by California’s taxpayers after its implementation,” said Ken Franke, president of the Sportfishing Association of California, also a PSO member. “The price tag to adequately monitor and enforce the MPAs will range from $35 million to $60 million annually in perpetuity. A poor process and decisions based on inadequate science data will lead to the establishment of ill conceived closures. Such closures will also have an adverse economic impact on the fishing and boating industries and the local economies that support these industries. In California, saltwater fishing alone contributes more than $2.2 billion to the state economy, including $160 million in state and local taxes and nearly 20,000 jobs.”

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