|MLPA and Its Effects on the Diving Community - Part 1|
Posted by Stephen Benavides on November 16, 2009 at 17:25:18:|
At this point the task of the regional stakeholder group has been
Complete information on this process can be found on the department website at
Comments to the California Fish and Game Commission may be directed to email@example.com .
I would like to begin with my overall opinion on the impact of the Marine Life Protection Act in California. I was appointed as a nonconsumptive diver representative and that does orrespond with my work assignments within the MLPA South Coast Process. I have been involved with ocean conservation work in California for over 20 years and this SoCal MLPA process was the most open and best informed I have ever seen. We were provided with enough briefings and information to overload the senses. There was an expert on the Regional Stakeholder panel for every contingency. Never before in ocean conservation and management processes has a group had access to the detailed scientific,
Our Conservation Lobby was a distinct minority on the 63 member RSG and consumptive interests outnumbered nonconsumptive by significant margins as validated in Gem Group voting records. I was a member of the Opal and Workgroup #3 teams. Our Workgroup #3 map was the best performing geographical array the SAT (science team) had ever seen. Look at the results of the SAT evaluations. The San Diego and North Catalina clusters are some of the smallest and most best performing MPA's yet evaluated. We accomplished this AND did so in a smaller footprint than
Most importantly, our final product met the SAT Guidelines. For over a year we have had the need to produce a Map that met the SAT guidelines drilled into our heads and two of the three maps produced succeeded in meeting SAT guidelines, those being out Group #3 and the "cross interest" proposal of Group #1. The BRTF and the Staff have insisted our product meet SAT guidelines. Sadly, the Integrated Preferred Alternative the BRTF prepared from the meat of the three proposals will likely NOT meet the spacing and replicate guidelines we were admonished
When the Workgroups finished their maps the scientific and stakeholder needs portion of this process shifted to the political arena. In the past two iterations of this MLPA process the BRTF has prepared a Preferred Alternative which drew from all sources. Most of the "meat" in the sausage assembled by the BRTF as their South Coast Integrated Preferred Alternative ("IPA") comes from Workgroup #1 with a smattering
Divers have had intensively divisive opinions. The overwhelming numbers of letters and emails I have received during my service as an RSG member have been from pro-conservation oriented divers. Some of these have defined themselves as consumptive at times. The most visible divers in the process were the spearfishermen and speara who were very vocal and tenaciously promoted their interests. Support for the conservation
In the final analysis, divers had relatively little impact on shaping the final products. There is a very good reason for this and that is that we do not have a significant financial footprint in the "game". The endgame in this process was dominated by money and economics. The really critical decisions made by the BRTF, at Catalina, San Diego,
Soon, maybe not in December, but soon, we will have a comprehensive array of MPA's in the area from Pt. Conception to the Mexican border. When we started this process 13 years ago there was less than 1/2 of 1% of the coastline in protected status. Soon, when even the least of the protective arrays is approved, there will be at least 380 square miles of MPA's created by the F&G Commission when they act next month. By any
All the participants are disappointed. This is not a bad sign. This is the mark of a successful political process in a state where "Share the Pain" is the mantra of collaborative government and a requirement of the political blessing of the proposed change. All the user groups lost something of value yet there were no clear "losers" among the stakeholders. This was difficult and painful for some but I think we are all winners and time will validate that concept!
What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.
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