Protest the Marine Protected Area process in Eureka today at 4:30 p.m. Join the Eureka sport and commercial fishermen on land and, if you can bring your boat, in the water.
The meeting is in at the Aquatic Center at the northern end of Old Town right at the waters edge. This is the closest place where we can have a formal protest. The Crescent City meeting is at the Elk Valley Community Center on Thursday at 5 p.m. Out of respect for our Native American community; please do not attempt to protest there. You can go in and peacefully voice your opinion, but again please do not disrespect the meeting area or the Native American hosts.
Both meetings will have maps of proposed MPAs and individuals from the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative on hand to discuss options. At this point in the process, which still has one more round of Stakeholder meetings, there are three closed areas proposed in Del Norte County.
The first area is called Pyramid point. It closes state waters from the Oregon/California border to just north of the Smith River, and is a large no-take area. Our local work group proposed it at the beginning of this process. Potentially, it does the least damage to our fishing community. Still it is home to many Native American uses, and all of us involved in the work group expected those uses to continue unchanged.
The next one was slipped in at the last moment by the Humboldt Bay Keepers Conservation group. It consists of a small closure outside of the St. George Reef Lighthouse. It will close a productive deep water crabbing area, and reduce possible future near shore fishermen’s access to shelf rock cod species.
The last one in Del Norte County is also a brainchild of the Bay Keepers group, and goes from the center of De Martin Beach north of Wilson rock to the seal lion caves north of the mouth of the Klamath. This closure, which is a replication of the Pyramid point habitat though much smaller, will cost our local fishing community $150,000 to $350,000 dollars a year in lost revenue.
The Eco Trust economic data collected from fishermen last year confirms this loss. This area is also inside the safety zone that we have been advocating since the start of this process. It seems that the talks I had last year with Pete Nichols of the Humboldt Bay Keeper Group over the idea and reasons for a safety area were wasted.
Several areas proposed by the Humboldt Bay Keepers were not advocated by any other local stakeholders, and put in the package at the last minute over their protests. This is just one of the many actions that show how much control has been bought by the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation when they funded this process.
We hope the rest of our county will support us as we try to better balance the costs and protections this outside process.
Kenyon Hensel is a local fisherman who has been closely involved with California’s MPA process.