Marine Protection Area poised to ruin local fishing

I have attended many meetings about the Marine Life Protection Act and it's application to fisheries management (andquot;Marine Protected Areas,andquot; Jan. 18). The latest meetings have been about setting Marine Protected Areas in the south central coast of California. Never in my experience have I seen such a blatant takeover of the public process. Environmental groups have pushed the public out of their way to institute a program aimed at destroying fishing and the communities that support it.

While I support protections for our fish stocks, these environmental groups want to end fishing altogether. Through their control, the south central coast is facing almost thirty closed areas that will put 60 percent of the high relief rock cod congregation areas off limits to fishing forever. The local fishermen presented an alternative that fit all of the scientific qualifications and would have left some promise of continued livelihoods, but where ignored.

The major environmental groups have funded the process (You can't vote them out of office if you don't like the outcome.). They have stacked the blue ribbon science committee to cherry pick the science. They spoon feed you, through a continuing series of press releases, the distortion of over fishing in your coastal waters and then offer the false panacea of marine reserves.

Traditional management is protecting your fish stocks. There is no collapse of near-shore fish happening because of fishing. Closing small parts of our coast cannot protect against pollution or warming water temperatures that are threatening to permanently change our oceans. The money being spent, almost $100 million budgeted so far, could have supported traditional management to create higher levels of protection for all state waters. Instead, you will have little marine parks with no fishing.

Sadly, local fishermen cannot withstand having any closed areas within 10 miles of either side of our outer buoy. We cannot run through our notorious weather to fish on the other side of a closed area. That is why you will hear our campaign to keep a 10-mile radius around our harbor clear of MPAs, and to make any Northern MPA a State Marine Conservation area that will allow crabbing. I hope you will understand that we want our fisheries protected, not taken.

I want to continue in my life's work and you should not lose access to your local resource. This is an SOS from your fishing community. Help us if you can.

Kenyon Hensel

Crescent City


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