Public Input Sought on Draft Proposals for North Coast Marine Protected Areas

California Department of Fish and Game News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 23, 2010

Contacts : Annie Reisewitz, MLPA Initiative, (858) 228-0526
Kirsten Macintyre, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8988

Public Input Sought on Draft Proposals for North Coast Marine Protected Areas MLPA Initiative to hold five “open house” events for the Northern California community July 6-8

Open house events have been scheduled in northern California for the public to review and provide input on four draft proposals developed through the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. The open houses will focus on draft marine protected area (MPA) proposals for the MLPA North Coast Study Region, which covers state waters from the California/Oregon border to Alder Creek near Point Arena in Mendocino County. Members of the public are invited to attend at any time during the day and evening sessions – in five locations throughout the study region – to visit informational stations and offer input.

Members of the MLPA North Coast Regional Stakeholder Group developed the draft MPA proposals during Round 2 of a three-round planning process. They will be on hand to answer questions and discuss how these ideas will help meet the goals of improved marine life, habitats and overall ecosystem health. MLPA Initiative staff, California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) staff, California State Parks staff and members of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force will also be available.

“We are seeking additional input from the local community to help re-design California’s marine protected areas into a cohesive coastal network that adequately protects diverse marine life and their habitats,” said Ken Wiseman, executive director the MLPA Initiative. “These events offer members of the public one-on-one conversation opportunities with stakeholders and staff with regard to the draft MPA proposals and to directly provide their input.”

The five open houses are scheduled for:

– Tuesday, July 6, 2010: 5:00-7:30 p.m., C.V.
Starr Community Center, 300 South Lincoln Street, Fort Bragg, CA

– Wednesday, July 7, 2010: 8:00-10:00 a.m.,
The Octagon/Beginnings, 5 Cemetery Road Briceland, CA

– Wednesday, July 7, 2010: 5:00-7:30 p.m.,
Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center, 921 Waterfront
Drive, Room 211, Eureka, CA

– Thursday, July 8, 2010: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.,
Redwood National and State Parks, South
Operations Center, 121200 Hwy. 101, Orick, CA

– Thursday, July 8, 2010: 5:00-7:30 p.m., Elk Valley Rancheria Community Center,
2332 Howland Hill Road, Crescent City, CA

At each open house the public will receive information about the four draft MPA proposals currently under consideration, as well as the various evaluations conducted by the MLPA Master Plan Science Advisory Team, DFG, California State Parks and MLPA Initiative staff. The open houses will also include information about the north coast MPA planning process, next steps in developing MPA proposals and opportunities for public feedback on the draft proposals. To view the Round 2 draft MPA proposals, please see www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/mpaproposals_nc.asp

Members of the public do not have to attend an open house to provide input on the Round 2 draft MPA proposals; they may also provide input by completing an online form at www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/mpaproposals_nc.asp. Print copies of the form may be obtained at a number of local libraries and government offices (for a list of locations, please see www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/pdfs/libraries.pdf. Comments on the Round 2 draft MPA proposals will be most helpful if submitted no later than July 14, 2010, in order for the information to be distributed to regional stakeholder group and task force members prior to the start of Round 3.

Under the guidelines of a master plan for MPAs, the process to develop a recommendation for north coast MPAs involves, among other things, identifying marine species that may benefit from MPAs, considering existing marine protected areas, and developing MPAs that include a variety of habitats and water depths.

The MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force is overseeing the north coast MPA planning process and will make a final recommendation to the California Fish and Game Commission in December of this year.

Enacted in 1999, the MLPA directs the state to design and manage a system of marine protected areas in order to, among other things, protect marine life and habitats, marine ecosystems and marine natural heritage, as well as improve recreational, educational and study opportunities provided by marine ecosystems. The California Natural Resources Agency and DFG have partnered with the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation in an initiative to help re-design the statewide system of MPAs to achieve these goals. The advice of scientists, resource managers, experts, stakeholders and members of the public guide this public-private partnership.

For additional information about the MLPA Initiative, please see www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa

Pacific Seafood accused of monopoly practices in anti-trust lawsuit

Pacific Seafoods has been accused of monopoly practices that harm fishermen on the West coast according to a law suit filed on behalf of some fishermen from Oregon. The suit, which is not backed by any state or federal attorney, claims that Pacific has achieved between 50% to 75% market share on major west coast species including dungeness crab, groundfish, whiting, and pacific shrimp. The plaintiffs claim that using this buying power, Pacific keeps prices to fishermen lower than they would otherwise be, and retaliates against both dealers who offer higher prices, and fishermen who land at those dealers.

The company has categorically denied the allegations, saying they are completely unfounded, and will be proven without merit. Pacific and its owner Frank Dulcich, who built the company from scratch into one of the largest vertically integrated seafood companies in the U.S., have been the target of legal actions in the past. Anti-trust suits are extremely complex and expensive, and it is not clear if the fishermen bringing the class action have the resources to carry it through. The price fixing lawsuit against Bristol Bay salmon processors in the 1990’s was enormously expensive, and resulted in a 30 day trial, in which processors were acquitted of any wrongdoing. The suit is the subject of our video today.

In other news, Bon Secour and other Alabama based seafood companies are scrambling to source product, as local fishing areas are shut down. It is not clear how long some of the companies can tolerate the operating disruptions.

The PSP outbreak in Alaska has gotten worse, with a second death reported. This is the first time since 1997 that fatalities have been associated with PSP. The lab data is still being evaluated, so conclusions are tentative, but they point to toxin from crab entrails being the cause. The dungeness personal use fishery opened recently in Southeast Alaska. Commercial crabmeat is not affected, and is monitored closely by state health authorities.

Are New England landings up or down? This seemingly simple question is getting more complex, as yesterday at the regional council, New England regional administrator Pat Kurkul said landings were down 24%. This contradicts data from the auctions that volume is up about 30%. For this to be true the auction share of total regional landings will have gone up from 43% to 75%. This may be an unintended consequence of the sector program – diverting landings from smaller ports.

DFO has extended the snow crab season in Newfoundland until July 8th in some major areas. About 70% of the crab is currently landed, but the pace is behind that of 2009. There have not been widespread reports of softshell crab, and the DFO has a monitoring system in place to close areas where softshell is observed.

John Sackton, Editor And Publisher , Lexington, Massachusetts

Source: Seafood.com

The polemic decision the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) made in granting certification to the U.S. pole and troll albacore fishery twice

The polemic decision the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) made in granting certification to the U.S. pole and troll albacore fishery twice has caused conflicts between the two organizations managing such certifications: The American Albacore Fishing Association (AAFA) and the Western Fishboat Owners Association (WFOA)…. Read article on Atuna.com (free subscription required)