Marine Protected Areas on Fish and Game Commission’s August agenda

Anglers, environmentalists and state officials have been at odds over how to proceed with MPAs.

FOLSOM — The California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) will discuss and potentially vote on changes to the Master Plan for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) at its final meeting of the summer at Lake Natoma Inn Hotel in Folsom on Aug. 24.

Commissioners could be voting to enact a 10-year lifespan for current MPAs. Anglers, conservationists, environmentalists and state officials have been at odds whether the commission is changing the rules mid-stream.

The MLPA initially called for a five-year assessment of MPAs to determine whether habitat conservation goals were being met. Some hoped recreational fishing would resume in areas where it is currently prohibited because of the MPAs.

However the commission states no promises were made the MPAs would be eradicated or otherwise limited after the five-year assessment. All the while environmentalists and conservationists say more time is necessary to ensure marine reserves are successful and key habitats are fully restored.

The FGC initially discussed changes to the MLPA and MPAs in April. A vote in late June was delayed until Aug. 24 to give Native American tribes more time to review proposed language incorporating tribal ecological knowledge into the Master Plan.

One of the most vocal groups against 10-year assessments for MPAs has been the California Sportfishing League. The advocacy group stated anglers were promised recreational fishing activities would be restored once the five-year assessments were completed and fishing populations restored.

Commissioners and environmentalists responded no such promises were made and five years is not enough time to determine whether fishing populations have in fact been restored.

The FGC will meet Aug. 24 and 25 at Lake Natoma Inn Hotel in Folsom. Information about the meeting, including agenda and documents, can be found here.

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