A Template for 30×30 to Strip Recreational Fishermen from Public Access
In 1999, California enacted the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), leading to the closure of many areas on the California coast to commercial and recreational fisherman. Fisherman were promised this would be temporary, to be reassessed every five years. They claimed fish populations must increase and their habitats improve before fisherman could once again access these areas. Twenty-three years later, with scientific data confirming fish populations and habitats are flourishing, the majority of the coast remains closed.
In 2016, Executive Director of California Sportfishing League, Marko Mlikotin asserted:
“There is no question that the passage of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) has been the most controversial environmental issue California’s angling community has ever faced. It signaled the states shift from a shared philosophy of conserving California’s natural resources to outright protectionism, with little regard to the interests of outdoor recreation, tourism and all of their economic benefits.”
At the time of his statement, 850 square miles of the coast was in Marine Protected Areas (MPA), many of which prohibited fishing. Prior to the enactment of the MLPA, there were 63 designated MPA’s. Today, there are 124 MPA’s and 15 special closure areas along the 1,100-mile coastline. 59 of the MPA’s are “fully protected no-take” areas. (See Figure 1 below, “California Department of Fish and Wildlife, 2016 Master Plan for Marine Protected Areas,” page 5)
According to a coalition of recreational fishermen organizations, Partnership for Sustainable Oceans, the fish nor its habitat are at risk, and are already well protected through other state and federal laws.
“In the waters of California, there is not one marine fish stock currently experiencing overfishing and the few stocks still under stress are rebuilding due to the strict fisheries management and conservation plans established at the federal and state levels over the last 20 years.”
They also point out that prior to Act, only a few of the fish species were considered “overfished.”
“For example, of the more than 90 groundfish stocks in California waters (which are the most likely to benefit from an MPA), only nine have ever been designated as overfished. Two of those stocks have been rebuilt in the past five years and the remaining seven are all showing improvement under strict rebuilding plans, which include take restrictions, gear restrictions and thousands of square miles of federally-mandated closed areas known as the Cowcod and Rockfish Conservation Areas.” (Partnership for Sustainable Oceans)
The bait? The green agenda convinced Californian’s their coast was imperil and the solution was to conserve, restore and protect the most vulnerable areas.
The switch? Twenty-three years later, even though the scientific data shows the habitat and fish are fine and would not be harmed if humans once again exercised their God-given right to harvest the seas, the green-fueled agenda continues to protect and restrict more of the coastline.
“Because the MLPA process (funded by private sources with a political agenda) is based on symbolism, not science, and addresses only fishing, it is far from certain that it will ever achieve its conservation objectives. Data-derived science has taken a back seat to private political agendas throughout the MLPA implementation process, creating barriers to quality work and public policy that serves the people.” (Partnership for Sustainable Oceans)
Have you ever known environmentalists or government to give up control once secured? The greens always start by targeting the productive industries as they court the recreational community with promises of public access. Once the productive industries are gone, the recreational community waits for their promises to be fulfilled, and the bureaucratic machine grows larger in size, power, and appetite.