State Office of Administrative Law Rejects Southern California's MLPA Regulations

The California state Office of Administrative Law has rejected the regulations for the Marine Life Protection Act implementation in southern California. The regulations, which have been approved by the state's Fish and Game Commission, would have closed vast stretches of the coast to recreational fishing.

In its decision, the OAL listed a number of failures in the procedures used in the rule making process, including the MLPA staff's failure to provide reasons for rejecting alternative proposals for closures, failure to comply with notice requirements, and failure to adequately respond to all of the public comments regarding the proposed closures.

"This is great news," said Dave Elm, chairman of United Anglers of Southern California, which has filed suit against the Fish and Game Commission, challenging the lawfulness of the MLPA implementation process.

"The OAL decision validates our own concerns over the improprieties we noted in the MLPA process," he said. "We believe the process was flawed at its core with the outcome predetermined by entities that funded the implementation process."

Because the state of California has been strapped by funds, the MLPA implementation process has been privately funded by a group known as the Resource Legacy Fund Foundation, which has ties to groups such as the Ocean Conservancy and the National Resource Defense Council.