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MLPA Initiative a Schwarzenegger priority, budget woes notwithstanding

June 3, 2009 | 11:15 am

Reed Smolan unhooks a calico bass caught off the Palos Verdes Peninsula. A portion of ocean beyond the peninsula faces possible closure as part of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. For those wondering whether California will follow through with the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative in light of the state's massive budget deficit and the drastic cuts being made elsewhere, the answer appears to be a resounding yes.

Natural Resources Secretary Michael Chrisman on Monday delivered a memo to the California Fish and Game Commission in response to two commission members who recently suggested a delay in further implementation of the MLPA process. The MLPA Initiative staff and stakeholder groups are working toward establishing a coastwide network of marine protected areas -- which would be off-limits to fishermen -- and is currently focusing on Southern California.

Chrisman explained to the commission, on behalf of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, that "California's process for adopting an improved system of marine protected areas is well funded. Moreover, there is no reason, funding or otherwise, for the process supporting the law to be postponed."

Chrisman further explained that the state budget has "consistently provided support for MLPA" and that "this funding is but a small part of the more than $34.2 million that has been allocated statewide for MLPA by a partnership of state agencies and foundations."

This news will be disappointing to many fishermen but should be reassuring to environmental groups that favor a network of no-take areas to benefit beleaguered stocks of fish, and that have devoted thousands of hours, as stakeholders, to the painstaking process.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Reed Smolan unhooks a calico bass caught off the Palos Verdes Peninsula. A portion of ocean beyond the peninsula faces possible closure as part of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. Credit: Pete Thomas / Los Angeles Times

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