Coastal Voices Guest Opinion: Stakeholders continue MPA process

Kyle Curtis

Today and Thursday, there are local meetings of the Regional Stakeholder Group (RSG) at the Elk Valley Rancheria conference room.

Today the meeting starts at 9:30 a.m.; on Thursday it continues at 8 a.m.

This is a meeting of the local people who have been selected to give input for the northern area's process of sighting marine protected areas. This group is not responsible for the process; its members are dedicated locals who are trying to reduce the negative impacts these closures will cause.

According to official studies, even the most user-friendly group of

the proposed closures will cost our community over 20 percent of our

fishing income. This loss includes only off-vessel value, and does not

address the loss of money, taxes and community benefit from resale of

local fish. Any direct loss of income for people like myself will be

from our profit, since due to recent cuts, we have already been forced

to reduce our fixed costs for operating on the water.

Regional Stakeholder Group members are not the people who are pushing

this odorous process. They are not the people to yell and scream at. In

fact, I will be asking the stakeholders to walk out of this process

until three issues are resolved with a signed understanding between them

and the Blue Ribbon Task Force.

This agreement must cover three conditions. One, Native American

gathering rights are respected. Two, 10 nautical miles on each side of

the outside buoys of Crescent City, Trinidad, Shelter Cove, Fort Bragg,

and the first 10 miles of rocks south of Eureka harbor are dedicated as

safety zones free of any closures. Three, the sizing and spacing of

reserves must reflect the fact that above Cape Mendocino there is

insufficient hard bottom to support spacing of less then 70 miles

between reserves.

These are simple requests that do not endanger any reasonable network

of reserves, and can be supported by science, considerations of

historic native use, safety on the water, and the realistic reflection

of our areas habitats. These conditions will not impact the overall

reserves values, or protection. I hope that our local representatives

will listen.

Meanwhile, now is the time to comment on changes in this year's sport

season. Fish and Game has a few new ideas for this season's sport

fishery. The state is still under a great deal of pressure to lower the

yellow eye mortality in our area. While this mortality south of Cape

Mendocino is three times the amount of the north, some new rules are

being considered.

One is the adjustment of depth boundaries to be continuous with

shore. That means that if you travel across a depth of 120 feet, to get

to your fishing grounds, you have broken the law. If this was enacted

you could still fish on the north reef, but not on the big south reef.

Another is a possible change to the bag limit. The department is

looking at increasing the lingcod limit to four fish, but putting these

fish inside the 10-fish bag. Last year, you could retain 10 rock cod and

two lingcod. The new idea would set the overall limit to 10 fish with

up to four Lingcod included in that limit. This change is to get

fishermen off the water sooner, and reduce their yellow eye impacts. If

you want to give input on these ideas now is the time to contact


Finally, an interesting item was brought to my attention recently. If

you read last Friday's Pages of History column in The Triplicate, Nita

Phillips printed an article from the March 1960 edition. It states that

the reason dams were then being proposed for the Klamath River was to

control flooding and reduce fish kills - the exact reasons we are now

promoting the removal of the same dams. I hope our science today has a

better outcome than the science of the '60s.

Kenyon Hensel is a local fisherman who has been closely involved with

California's MPA process.

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