Change Begins Onshore
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Fish and Game Commission Update

December 18 2009 | Ocean Ecosystems, Marine Protected Areas,
by Stefanie Sekich

Last week the Fish and Game Commission listened to testimony from hundreds of people regarding the final maps.   While there was no regulatory vote, the Commission did vote to start the environmental review process and identified the IPA as the "proposed project".

Below is a recent update from the MLPA Executive Director with a great explanation of what has happened thus far, and what is coming up.

Thanks for following Surfrider's work on the MLPA.  We know that it has been a contentious process--but Surfrider has never been afraid on taking on hard projects.  We only hope we can balance the needs of our members, and make new friends along the way.   Like GreenFish. 

Blue Ribbon Task Force

During its eleventh meeting on October 20-22 and November 10, the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) reviewed the "Round 3" MLPA South Coast Regional Stakeholder Group (SCRSG) marine protected area proposals and considered what to include in a preferred alternative to be recommended to the California Fish and Game Commission. The BRTF received analyses and evaluations of the Round 3 proposals from the MLPA Master Plan Science Advisory Team (SAT), California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks) and MLPA Initiative staff. The SCRSG also provided the BRTF with background and process information regarding the development of Round 3 MPA proposals; the SCRSG also recommended changes to the proposals based on Round 3 results. More than 1,200 members of the public participated in two public comment periods, resulting in more than seven hours of verbal comment and hundreds of written comment.

After two days of discussion and deliberations, a subset of MPAs from the three SCRSG MPA proposals were tentatively identified by the BRTF for inclusion in a preferred alternative. In addition, the BRTF identified alternative options for four general geographies: Point Dume (three options), Palos Verdes (two options), Orange County (two options) and San Diego (four options). The BRTF recessed on October 22, requesting separate analysis on the alternative options under discussion. In addition, the BRTF indicated that all three revised SCRSG proposals would be forwarded to the commission.
On November 10, the BRTF reconvened to further discuss the different options. After several hours of deliberation and consideration of staff analyses, the task force unanimously adopted a preferred alternative that integrates elements from the three SCRSG MPA proposals, referred to as the MLPA South Coast Integrated Preferred Alternative MPA Proposal, or the IPA. The BRTF voted to recommend the IPA to the commission as the preferred alternative, and to also forward for consideration the three revised Round 3 SCRSG MPA proposals.

California Fish and Game Commission

At its joint meeting with the BRTF on December 9, the commission identified the IPA as the proposed project and guided staff to include revised SCRSG MPA proposals 1, 2, and 3 as alternatives, with the possibility of adding feasibility options developed by DFG. The commission made it clear that this vote was “guidance to staff” and not a regulatory vote. The commission also made it clear it was not selecting a “preferred” project at that time, but needed to designate a “proposed” project to allow staff to initiate the regulatory process under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). As required by the California Administrative Procedure Act, the commission will hold at least two hearings to receive public comment on the proposed MPA regulations in the south coast to help inform a final decision; these hearings are anticipated to take place in the spring of 2010, where members of the public will have an opportunity to provide comments. There will also be an opportunity to comment on the draft environmental impact report developed under CEQA that is expected to be released for public review in 2010. Information about the commission meeting schedule and how to provide public comment can be found on the commission website at www.fgc.ca.gov.
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