John and Barbara Stephens-Lewallen, Mendocino County's leading environmental activist couple, demanded that the Schwarzenegger administration stop the corrupt, fast-track Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative in a letter they presented to the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the North Coast Study Region on March 1. Their plea to halt the process was made the same week that new hard evidence of corruption in the widely-contested MLPA fiasco emerged during a Fish and Game Commission meeting in Ontario, California.
“It is our duty to defend California ocean food sovereignty while we still draw breath,” the Stephens-Lewallens stated. “Public access to fisheries is a Constitutional right in California (Article 1, Section 25). We will lose this right unless we unite and assert it this year.”
“You and the interests you represent would be wise to help us stop the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI). The MLPAI is a lose/lose/lose effort on California's North Coast, benefitting only the careerists who run the MLPAI process,” they said.
The Stephens-Lewallens criticize the MLPA process for being funded by a private corporation, the Resource Legacy Fund Foundation, effectively privatizing public trust ocean resources to pave the way for offshore oil drilling, wave energy projects and corporate aquaculture.
“The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation (Foundation) and its backers will never make sustainable and respected fisheries regulations here,” they said. “The Foundation will need to become more brutal and uglier in this futile effort.”
They urged the task force to withdraw from the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department of Fish and Game and the foundation that allows a process unaccountable to the public to proceed forward.
“Cindy Gustafson, please lead the Blue Ribbon Task Force in asking the Foundation and the Governor to face the fact that the MLPAI should be stopped for the good of all. This can be done by withdrawing from the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) giving all power over the MLPAI to the Foundation.
The Foundation-run MLPAI process is corrupt and deceptive from top to bottom, and will be challenged in every way if left to stand.
Cancel the MOU giving private foundations control over California's government and public fisheries! Stop the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Now!” they concluded.
Under the MLPA process, the Kashaya Pomo Tribe will be banned from harvesting seaweed, mussels and abalone off Stewarts Point in Sonoma County as they have done for centuries. The Stephens-Lewallens and others will also be stopped from harvesting seaweed off Sea Lion Cove off Point Arena as they done for many years.
On the same day, the MLPA North Coast Regional Stakeholders Group submitted a recommendation to the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force on the topic of tribal uses of the ocean.
That resolution states “That the MLPA Initiative shall appropriately acknowledge that California tribes and tribal communities have aboriginal rights to take marine resources and to use and manage coastal areas for traditional subsistence, cultural, religious, ceremonial, and other customary purposes.”
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The MLPA process has drawn wide-ranging criticism from a variety of political perspectives. Dan Hamburg, former North Coast Democratic Congressman and the current Green Party Candidate for the Board of Supervisors of Mendocino County, has slammed the privatization of public trust resources that has occurred under the MLPA.
“We will work with Humboldt and Del Norte Counties to stop privatization efforts such as the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI) — a private foundation takeover of marine life that threatens local coastal businesses that harvest the ocean for food,” vowed Hamburg.
MLPA Corruption Exposed at Fish and Game Commission Meeting
The charges of corruption and conflicts of interest that the Stephens-Lewallens have made against the MLPA Initiative were confirmed this past week by Bob Fletcher, former president of the Sportfishing Association of California. Fletcher claimed there was evidence that two members of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force, Bill Anderson and Greg Schem, agreed “to sign off on everything else” in return for not putting a reserve in an area where both had marinas and business interests, according to Jim Matthews of http://www.OutdoorNewsService.com.
William (Bill) Anderson has been president and chief operating officer of Westrec Marinas since 1989. Westrec Marinas is the nation's largest owner and operator of waterfront marinas. Gregory F. Schem is president and chief executive officer of Harbor Real Estate Group, specializing in marina and waterfront real estate investments, including a marina, fuel dock, and boat yard in Marina del Rey, in addition to other California assets.
“The first wave of hard evidence documenting the corruption and conflict of interest that's guided the implementation of the 1999 Marine Life Protection Act surfaced at the meeting of the California Fish and Game Commission at the DoubleTree Inn this past week,” said Matthews.
“The commission accepted public testimony again on the so-called Blue Ribbon Task Force's recommended ocean fishing closures and protected areas along the Southern California coast before adopting a final plan. During Wednesday's testimony, documentation was provided that proved that two members of the Blue Ribbon Task Force, Bill Anderson and Greg Schem, lied to the commission at a recent meeting about having a business association,” according to Matthews.
“Bob Fletcher, former president of the Sportfishing Association of California who's been involved in the entire MLPA process, said there was evidence that both members agreed 'to sign off on everything else' in return for not putting a reserve on the Rocky Point area between Redondo Beach and Long Beach where both had marinas and business interests,” said Matthews.
There is no doubt that Anderson and Schem were appointed to the task force by Schwarzenegger to make sure that their interests weren't impacted by Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), just as Cathy Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association was installed as the chair of the South Coast panel by the Governor to protect the oil industry, which is now seeking to expand offshore oil drilling in California waters.
As I have said many times before, there is absolutely nothing “green” about the MLPA process — and those “leaders” of the so-called “environmental” NGOs that still praise this corrupt process should finally show some integrity and ask for the MLPA corporate greenwashing fiasco to be immediately halted!
To read Matthews' excellent investigative news, go to: http://www.sbsun.com/sports/ci_14523601. ¥¥