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Posted on Sep 1, 2011 in Pacific Currents
California’s MPA Regulations Under Legal Attack
by Jim Hendricks

The implementation of California’s Marine Life Protection (MLPA) will face its most serious legal challenge on September 26, 2011, when a Superior Court is scheduled to hear arguments in a lawsuit contesting the legality of the environmental review process used in establishing marine protected areas (MPAs) along the state’s central and southern coasts.

The suit has been filed by United Anglers of Southern California (UASC) in conjunction with Robert Fletcher, immediate past president of the Sportfishing Association of California, against the California Fish and Game Commission, the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF), and the MLPA Science Advisory Team.

MPAs are already in effect along the central coast, closing vast stretches of water to recreational fishing. Expansion of existing MPAs in southern California was to take effect October 1, 2011. But the state’s Office of Administrative Law, which needs to approve the MPA regulations for the south, has told the Fish and Game Commission that there are issues with regulations as written and consequently, the regulations cannot be approved in time for the October 1 date. There was no description of the issues, and a new effective date has not been announced.

Meanwhile, both sides in the MLPA lawsuit are gearing up for a fierce legal battle, the third such skirmish between recreational angling groups led by UASC and regulators such as the Fish and Game Commission and BRTF.

Angling groups were victorious in the first two fights, which involved gaining access to the BRTF records and contesting intervention by private legal defense funds on behalf of the defendants in the suit.

For the latest on the MLPA legal battle, visit the United Anglers of Southern California Facebook page. To learn how you can help, visit www.OceanAccessProtectionFund.org.