Unified Array Proposal Gains Support

#Stakeholders in northern California, who represent a wide array of interests in the region, recently submitted a single, community-supported marine protected area (MPA) proposal for California's North Coast as part of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process. The Partnership for Sustainable Oceans (PSO), which represents recreational fishing and boating interests in California, today sent a letter to the Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF), the MLPA oversight group, urging them to accept the Regional Stakeholder Group's (RSG) unified array proposal.

"The unified array is the result of immeasurable time and hard work put in by the RSG," said Allen Sansano, director of Fisheries Affairs for NorCal Kayak Anglers, a PSO member. "A lot of tough decisions and compromises were made among the different community interests to come up with this consensus position. This is a proposal that our community can live with and will support."

Throughout the MLPA implementation process in other regions of the state, community groups have submitted multiple proposals only to see the BRTF create its own preferred alternative.

"By abandoning the RSG-created proposals in previous regions, the BRTF wasted the time and energy of the RSG members and disenfranchised many of those involved in the process," noted Bob Fletcher of the Sportfishing Association of California and former Chief Deputy Director of the Department of Fish and Game. "Given that the MLPA is supposed to be an open, transparent and community-driven process, the BRTF should accept the recommendations of the North Coast community instead of making its own."

Sansano concluded, "Modifying the unified array would seriously undermine the hard work and consensus reached by the community stakeholder group. Without local support and cooperation, MPAs have been shown to be completely ineffective or even counter-productive. Given the significant potential effects that the MLPA will have on businesses, traditional user groups and the recreating public, it's important that this process is done correctly and based on sound science.

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