The Five Inconvenient Truths about the MLPA Initiative
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The Five Inconvenient Truths about the MLPA Initiative

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May 27, 2013

In the latest episode in the long saga of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) issued a press release announcing that wardens recently cited two Southern California men for illegally taking abalone from the “Marine Protected Area (MPA)” near Laguna Beach created under the privately funded initiative.

“CDFW wildlife officers observed Juni Pong, 47, from El Monte and Kuan Yee, 47, from Yorba Linda, entering the ocean at Moss Cove in Laguna Beach in full SCUBA gear,” according to CDFW. “After more than an hour of diving the two men returned to the beach and were met by an officer who found two green abalone in each of the men’s diving gear.”

“Both suspects were cited for possession of abalone and take of fish inside a marine protected area, both potential misdemeanor violations, and then released,” the release continued. “The abalone were photographed for evidence and returned to the sea, the men’s diving equipment was confiscated and impounded as evidence. Abalone may only be taken north of San Francisco Bay during prescribed seasons. For complete ocean fishing regulations see”

The CDFW said the case will be forwarded to the Orange County District Attorney’s office for prosecution.

If the CDFW’s allegations against the suspects prove to be true, I hope that the suspects are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. There is no excuse for possession of green abalone, a protected species, fishing in a marine reserve, nor using scuba gear to capture abalone.

These aren’t true “marine protected areas”

However, California Department of Fish and Wildlife leaders and other state officials fail to acknowledge the “inconvenient truths” about the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative that the Laguna Beach marine reserve and other so-called “marine protected areas” in California were created under.

First, in violation of the letter and spirit of the landmark Marine Life Protection Act of 1999, these so-called “marine protected areas” do not protect the ocean from oil spills and drilling, military testing, corporate aquaculture, wind and wave energy projects and all other impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering. They are “no fishing” zones, not real “marine protected areas” that provide for comprehensive protection.

“Marine protected areas can in some instances be beneficial for specific areas, species or ecosystems,” said Zeke Grader, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “However, the problem we have here is that these ‘marine protected areas’ are in essence no fishing zones and they don’t protect for water quality and other types of development or insults to the environment from activities such as seismic testing.”

MLPA Initiative overseen by big oil lobbyist

Second, the CDFW and other state officials fail to acknowledge that the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces that oversaw the implementation of these “marine protected areas” included a big oil lobbyist, marina developer, real estate executive and other individuals with numerous conflicts of interest.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force that developed the MPAs that went into effect in Southern California on January 1, 2012. Reheis-Boyd, a relentless advocate for offshore oil drilling, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the Keystone XL Pipeline and the weakening of environmental laws, also served on the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

Reheis-Boyd on December 10, 2012 claimed that “hydraulic fracturing is safe for California” in her letter to the editor in the Sacramento Bee, in spite a multitude of evidence documented in the film Gasland and in numerous reports documenting the hazards of fracking. (

“Hydraulic fracturing has been employed in California for 60 years and there has never been evidence that it has caused harm to water supplies or the environment,” she said.

More recently, in an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle on May 12, Reheis-Boyd disputed claims by environmental and consumer groups that fracking in California is “destructive and unregulated.”

“In truth, hydraulic fracturing has been used in California for 60-plus years, is not destructive and has never been linked to any environmental harm here. The process is and has been closely regulated. California’s well construction and testing regulations that protect our groundwater are the strictest in the nation,” she wrote. (

Many grassroots environmentalists and fishermen believe that Reheis-Boyd was appointed to the task force to make sure that the oil industry’s interests were protected and to ensure that recreational and commercial fishermen and seaweed harvesters, the most vocal opponents of offshore oil drilling and fracking, are removed from many areas on the ocean to clear a path for ocean industrialization.

David Gurney, independent journalist and co-chair of the Ocean Protection Coalition, blasted Reheis-Boyd’s role in pushing for increased fracking in California. (

“Last week, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced new lease-sales for Bureau of Land Management lands in California for ‘fracking’ development,” said Gurney. “Offshore areas are showing up on maps: reservoirs of underwater natural gas deposits, that lie under the ocean off Santa Barbara and Southern California.”

“It’s clear that government and petroleum officials want to ‘frack’ in the very same areas Reheis-Boyd was appointed to oversee as a ‘guardian’ of marine habitat protection for the MLPA ‘Initiative,'” emphasized Gurney.’

Private funding corrupts public policy

The third inconvenient truth of the MLPA Initiative is the private money that funded the implementation of the process.

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Marisla Foundation and two other foundations privately funded the MLPA Initiative through the shadowy Resources Legacy Fund Foundation with $23 million to date. (

This is an inherent conflict of interest, since this big foundation also funds many of the “environmental” NGOs who lobbied for the creation of marine reserves with the least possible protection from all other human impacts on the ocean other than fishing.

The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation also funds, along with the Stephen Bechtel Jr. Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) studies advocating the construction of a peripheral canal or tunnel under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). Delta advocates and independent scientists fear that the construction of the twin tunnels that the Brown administration is now committed to building under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta will hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and other fish species.

Incomplete and terminally flawed science

The fourth inconvenient truth behind the MLPA Initiative is the questionable “science” the process was based upon.

State officials neglect to acknowledge that the Northern California Tribal Chairman’s Association, including the Chairs of the Elk Valley Rancheria, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Karuk Tribe, Smith River Rancheria, Trinidad Rancheria, and Yurok Tribe, believes the science behind the MLPA Initiative developed by Schwarzenegger’s Science Advisory Team is “incomplete and terminally flawed.” (

The Yurok Tribe said it has attempted on numerous occasions to address the scientific inadequacies with the MLPA science developed under the Schwarzenegger administration by adding “more robust protocols” into the equation, but was denied every time.

For example, the MLPA Science Advisory Team in August 2010 turned down a request by the Yurok Tribe to make a presentation to the panel. Among other data, the Tribe was going to present data of test results from other marine reserves regarding mussels.

On the day of the historic direct action protest by a coalition of over 50 Tribes and their allies in Fort Bragg in July 2010, Frankie Joe Myers, Yurok Tribal member and Coastal Justice Coalition activist, exposed the refusal to incorporate Tribal science that underlies the fake “science” of the MLPA process.

“The whole process is inherently flawed by institutionalized racism,” said Myers. “It doesn’t recognize Tribes as political entities, or Tribal biologists as legitimate scientists.” (

To make matters even worse, the Del Norte County District Attorney arrested Ron LeValley, Co-Chair of the MLPA Science Advisory Team, in February 2012 for conspiracy with two others, Roland Raymond and Sean McAlllister, to embezzle nearly $1 million from the Yurok Tribe.

In the latest development in this scandal, District Attorney Jon Alexander said the state case was dismissed without prejudice against Raymond, LeValley and McAllister to “allow the case to move forward through the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” according to the Eureka Times-Standard.

Wouldn’t it have been prudent for the Natural Resources Agency and Department of Fish and Wildlife to have postponed the implementation of the alleged North Coast “marine protected areas” until this case had been resolved in the courts – and when the legitimacy of the “science” of the MLPA Initiative was already facing severe criticism from respected Tribal scientists? (

Justice denied: Commission fails to protect Tribe’s harvesting rights

The fifth “inconvenient truth” of the MLPA Initiative is the failure of the Fish and Game Commission to protect the Yurok Tribe’s traditional gathering rights at Reading Rock and the False Klamath.

At the Commission meeting on June 6, 2012, Yurok Tribal representatives supported the adoption of the following in order to protect the Tribe’s harvesting rights:

Inexplicably, the Commission failed to approve the Tribe’s proposal that would protect traditional tribal gathering rights in Yurok ancestral territory.

For Reading Rock, they instead adopted the “preferred alternative,” an offshore State Marine Reserve (SMR) status that calls for zero human take of any marine species.

The Commission also adopted a Seasonal Special Closure for False Klamath Rock, where there would be a 300-foot seasonal closure around the rock from March 1 to August 31 for avian nesting.

During the hearing before the vote, Yurok Tribal leaders told the Commission they were unhappy with the regulations that would prohibit them from gathering seaweed, mussels and fish at their traditional gathering areas at Reading Rock and the False Klamath – and vowed to keep gathering regardless of the Commission’s decision.

“We are hunters, fishermen and gatherers and we have lived here since time immemorial,” said David Gensaw Sr. a member of the Yurok Tribal Council. “We have gathered on these shores forever since the Creator put us here.”

Gensaw told the Commission about the Tribe’s problems with diabetes, high blood pressure and other illnesses caused by a change in diet since the arrival of Europeans, who took many of the traditional foods from the tribe.

“We’re here today to tell you that we need that subsistence, and we will continue to provide our people with that nourishment,” he stated. “Hopefully, we can work this out without a confrontation.”

Yurok Tribal Elder Jack Matz emphasized, “If the regulations are implemented the way they are planned now, you will have a confrontation with a lot of elders, including myself.”

To read a copy of the Yurok Tribe MLPA and Marine Resource Plan, go to:

Originally published at

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