Publicado por: pongpesca | 2010/02/19

EUA: Stakeholder group enters MLPA process

” A 32-member group of people representing North Coast and state interests in the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative met for the first time Monday in front of video cameras and big screens connected to a dock of laptop computers.

The kickoff of three Regional Stakeholder Group meetings was meant to introduce the members to the process of developing marine reserves — or Marine Protected Areas — off the North Coast. Initiative staff told the group that they were chosen because they are believed to be good listeners committed to finding common ground.

”This is heavy lifting,” said MLPA Initiative Executive Director Ken Wiseman. “This is passionate.”

The planning process for the 1999 act is just beginning in the fourth of five regions, this time in state waters along the coast of Humboldt, Del Norte and Mendocino counties. The act calls for a coordinated network of zones that are off limits or restricted to fishing and gathering, and has been a major source of controversy among fishing and tribal communities along the California coast.

The beginning of the two-day meeting at the Red Lion Hotel was meant to establish some ground rules and lay out procedures the group will be following. The group is charged with sending along a small number of proposals — or “arrays” — to a Blue Ribbon Task Force, which will make recommendations to the state Fish and Game Commission, which is scheduled to make a final decision in December. Along the way, a Science Advisory Team will review the proposals.

The diverse interests, competing uses and different expectations of those in the group will make the process challenging, said MLPA Initiative Program Manager Melissa Miller-Henson.

”Challenges are actually opportunities in disguise,” Miller-Henson said.

Miller-Henson said that the group is not meeting to debate the merits for the MLPA or the usefulness of MPAs, or to identify a certain percentage of state waters that should be included in MPAs.

Eight different arrays have been submitted to the initiative and are undergoing a technical review. A proposal submitted by the North Coast Interest MPA Work Group calls for a handful of marine protected areas that it believes will minimize economic harm to fishing, gathering and traditional tribal uses. Others range from fewer areas with less restrictions to more MPAs with a higher level of protection.

There are three basic types of MPAs. A marine reserve is the most restrictive, allowing no extractive activities. A state marine park limits all commercial fishing and gathering and can restrict recreational fishing and gathering. A state marine conservation area puts special restrictions on, but allows, both commercial and sport fishing and gathering.

Recently appointed Blue Ribbon Task Force member Jimmy Smith, also Humboldt County’s 1st District supervisor, welcomed the group. He said that the expertise of the individuals on the stakeholder group will guide and inform the task force through a project of great magnitude and complexity.

”You are in the lead,” Smith said.

The Regional Stakeholder Group is expected to meet again in May.

John Driscoll can be reached at 441-0504 or”

Fonte: Times-Standard – 9 de Fevereiro de 2010

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