By Hilary Corrigan
Triplicate staff writer
Aiming to block marine protected areas in northern California waters, Crescent City Harbor officials agreed to ask state lawmakers to review the process that creates the no- zones.
The move comes at the request of area fishermen, following the procedure that recently resulted in marine protected areas along the central coast.
"Most stakeholders in that area were unhappy with the outcome of the process," said Harbormaster Richard Young at a harbor meeting on Tuesday.
The state effort focuses on sections of the California coastline.
"They need to get this straightened out, and they need to have a fair and balanced system before they get here," Young said. "Nobody wants to see that process repeated."
The 1999 Marine Life Protection Act requires a marine life protection program to set up a network of zones that ban or limit fishing and extraction of minerals, oil, sand or other materials. The intent seeks to protect biodiversity, shifting the focus of management tactics from individual species to broader ecosystems.
But local fishermen expect sectioning off fishing sites will hinder local industry. Fishing vessels act as individual businesses and bring in millions of dollars in crab catches and other seafood each year, said Crescent City commercial fisherman Kenyon Hensel.
In a bid to block restricted fishing zones, Hensel has started a local coalition. He also asked Assemblywoman Patty Berg, D-Eureka, and other state lawmakers and local politicians, to meet with local fishermen.
"We're very concerned," Hensel said. "We'd like to get on this right away."
Harbor board member John Yingst agreed.
"This makes me sick to think about what could happen here," Yingst said.
Fishermen and harbor leaders along the central coast have complained that the state process failed to consider their views for the first region that stretches from Pigeon Point, near San Francisco, south to Point Conception. The state has just started the approximately two-year-long process in the north central coast that stretches from Pigeon Point to just north of Point Arena.
Hensel and Young expect the state to next target the north coast.