Delay casts further doubt on when, if ever, the MLPA Regulations will go into effect
Sacramento, CA – August 29, 2011 – A delay in the approval of California’s controversial South Coast Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) regulations means that anglers will now have more time on the water. October 1, 2011 was the date that the no-fishing zone regulations were to have gone into effect.
According to a press release issued by the California Department of Fish and Game on August 25, California’s Office of Administrative Law (OAL), which must first review and approve the regulations before they go into effect, informed the California Fish and Game Commission that it has additional questions and requests for more information. After the Commission responds to the OAL’s issues, it may be required to re-notice the regulatory package. The Fish and Game Commission will meet on September 15, to discuss alternative effective dates for implementation of the Southern California marine protected areas.
Adding further uncertainty to the timeline for these regulations is a pending lawsuit filed by members of the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans (PSO), which represents the interests of California’s recreational anglers and boaters in the MLPA process. The lawsuit seeks to set aside the MLPA regulations for the North Central and South Coast study regions, citing a lack of statutory authority for the Fish and Game Commission to adopt the regulations, and, in the case of the South Coast regulations, numerous violations of the California Environmental Quality Act in the commission’s environmental review of the regulations. A hearing on the North Central Coast portion of the case has been set for September 26, in San Diego. The opening brief describing the petitioners’ claims in the lawsuit is available on the KeepAmericaFishing.org Web site.
“The delay in approving the MLPA South Coast regulations should provide some comfort to the many anglers and commercial fishermen who may have had concerns about whether come October 1, they’d be able to fish in their favorite areas,” said Bob Fletcher, former president of the Sportfishing Association of California and a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “For example, lobster fishermen can now set traps in areas they have historically used with confidence that they won’t be forced off the water on October 1. The outcome of the OAL’s questions to the Commission, and eventually the lawsuit itself, may enable anglers to continue to enjoy tremendous fishing.”
“Whatever the OAL’s issues with the South Coast MPAs may be – we don’t yet know what their questions to the Commission are at this point – it is clear to us that these regulations are the result of a flawed process, and should be overturned, said David Elm, chairman of United Anglers of Southern California, also a plaintiff. “I urge all anglers, and anyone who supports public access to public resources, to join our fight against the MLPA process in the courts by visiting www.OceanAccessProtectionFund.org and making a donation today.”