Mr. Mike Chrisman
State of California Resources Agency
1416 Ninth Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Mr. Chrisman, June 20, 2009
My name is Allan Jacobs. I am a 3rd generation Californian. My heritage includes subsistence hunting and fishing. I am a retired science and math teacher and a retired commercial fisherman. I just received a copy of your letter to Cindy Gustafson, President of the California Fish and Game Commission dated June1, 2009. You stated that you were “…writing to clarify the Schwarzenegger Administration’s position on the implementation of California’s Marine Life Protection Act.” In a like fashion, I am writing to you to clarify the North Coast Citizens’ position on the implementation of the MLPA, because your letter suggests that you may not be clear on “…the wishes, needs, and desires of all those who enjoy these resources…” along the rural California coast.
Let’s take a moment to review more of the text from which I extracted the two quotes in my opening paragraph. You wrote “I am writing to clarify the Schwarzenegger Administration’s position on the implementation of California’s Marine Life Protection Act. Commentary among California Fish and Game Commission members during your May14 meeting suggests that some commissioners may not be clear on their charge to adopt a Marine Life Protection Program network of marine protected areas.” After reading this part of your letter I was reminded that the Commission’s web site also states their “charge” very nicely and it differs somewhat from your interpretation. It says in part: “The Commissioners’ ultimate decisions must reflect not only the biological needs of our fish and wildlife, but also the wishes, needs and desires of all those who enjoy these resources with the interest, understanding and involvement of everyone who appreciates our magnificent fish and wildlife resources. The California fish and Game Commission will continue along the path of sound and enlightened resource management.” It is clear to me that the commissioners would be derelict in their duties if they adopted any MPA proposal if there is evidence that it does not represent the “…the wishes, needs, and desires of all those who enjoy these resources…” along the rural California coast. Again, the key words necessary for the Commission’s decisions here are “…the wishes, needs, and desires of all those who enjoy these resources…” and not as you wrote, just because, “Hundreds of people have directly participated, tens of thousands of hours have been dedicated, and dozens of groups are committed to making this process a success.” In addition, the Commissioners would be derelict if they adopted any MPA proposal that could not be enforced or monitored as required by legislation, for any reason, including a lack of funding. To do so would not be “… continuing along the path of sound and enlightened resource management.”
Further into your letter you wrote: “The Legislature was clear that the Fish and Game Commission’s charge is to adopt a final master plan and network of marine protected areas to be managed through the Marine Life Protection Program within the California Department of Fish and Game. The issue of MLPA funding is beyond the Commission’s scope and is more appropriately the purview of the Governor and Legislature, where budgeting decisions are made.” (Or, I might add that based upon recent history: where budgeting decisions are not made.) I submit to you that delaying any further adoptions of MPAs is exactly the most responsible step the Commissioner’s can make. Your demand that they move blindly on to adopt MPAs just because there was adequate funding to write them on paper, but obviously not enough for enforcement or monitoring them – as legislated - is a completely irresponsible expectation. Shame on you for pressuring the Commissioners to shirk their greater responsibility to the Citizens of the California just to please some special interest groups who apparently lack the patience and maturity to make sure the current proposals are the best choices and represent “…the wishes, needs, and desires of all those who enjoy these resources…” along the rural California coast where they will have the greatest impact, and that they are adequately funded in order to continue “…along the path of sound and enlightened resource management.”
My final point concerns your comment: “Ultimately, those who will most directly benefit in the long term from a healthy ocean, namely recreational and commercial fishermen, are being hurt by those few who seem opposed to the MLPA Initiative.” This statement shows that you have missed the most important point of all. You need to go back and listen to what is being said by myself and others at all of the meetings (including the May 14th meeting you referred to in your letter). Allow me to say it again now as clearly and carefully as possible. The vast majority of “…those few [of us] who seem opposed to the MLPA Initiative” are the recreational, commercial and subsistence fishermen. Oh, and by the way, we are not few in number. In Northern California and the more rural areas we are the majority. We are well aware of the necessity of responsible regulations and MPAs. We strongly believe that our chosen lifestyle, including the gathering of local sea food in a sustainable fashion, is a legitimate right that we wish to continue. We subscribe to the philosophy that humans can continue to exist harmoniously as active, participating members of our local ecosystem. We don’t disagree with the intent of the MLPA, as legislated. We don’t disagree with the need to use good science in forming MPAs. What continues to cause us to react strongly and negatively is:
1. Some proposals, as written on paper, are excessive to the point of being punitive. For example the IPA proposal closes over one third of Subregion 1 of the NCCSR, and what the IPA proposes for the Point Arena area has become the classic example of the worst case scenario of MLPA applications.
2. Some proposals, as written on paper, are not based on the best current science.
3. Some of the guidelines of the masterplan are not based upon the best current science.
4. Some proposals do not follow the guidelines of the masterplan.
5. Some proposals will do more ecological harm than good.
6. The arrogance of many of those in positions of authority and power, and their lack of willingness to work openly and cooperatively with the rural communities, has alienated most locals.
The MLPAI process has been advertised as being a transparent “…process that fosters inclusiveness and progress.” However, for us the MLPAI process has too often been not readily available or not accessible to the general public and could more aptly be described as “invisible” and “fostering exclusiveness.” We have tried hard to work within the system and participate in every stage of the MLPA process. At times we felt as if we were being considered. At other times we felt as if our rights and the wishes, needs, and desires of the locals who enjoy our marine resources were being completely ignored. Your June 1, 2009 letter was another of these occasions when we felt our rights were being violated. It is a shining example of governmental arrogance and ignorance of the true “…wishes, needs, and desires of all those who enjoy these resources…”
Having our concerns heard and considered by the Fish and Game Commission is nearly our last hope for a fair and equitable solution for the North Central Coast Region. It is also an important step for setting the course in preparation for the MLPAI process on the North Coast Region. Do not make matters worse by attempting to bully the Commissioners into making a hasty, poor decision.
Point Arena, Ca