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Pivotal changes in federal and state ocean policy

by The Sportfishing Conservancy 27 Jun 2018 17:01 UTC
Winner of the Guy Harvey Youth Scholarship Award - Fourth Annual Sanctuary Classic © The Sportfishing Conservancy

California's Fish and Game Commission breathes new life into the state's Marine Life Management Act (MLMA) while the nation's executive branch scuttles the National Ocean Policy (NOP)

One step forward, two backward

Last week California's Fish and Game Commission (Commission) sanctioned a streamlined version of California's Marine Life Management Act. Since 1999, the MLMA has provided ground breaking fishery management policy. However, in the intervening decade plus, funding this undertaking has proved daunting. In a visionary response, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) Director, Chuck Bonham, tapped Dr. Craig Shuman, the Department's Marine Region Manager, with crafting a "MLMA light." The new iteration provides a framework that makes the act more "do-able," while maintaining the same basic strengths of the original: a major step forward for California resources. Both Craig and Chuck realized that with streamlining, the new MLMA "light" provided a responsible alternative to the ever present threat of strictly "crisis" management. Stakeholder input proved to be a big part of the project. In a unanimous decision the Commission enabled this responsible approach.

Two steps back

Much like our nation's terrestrial management model, Presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama both saw the wisdom of establishing a federal Ocean Policy to provide a framework for areal ocean management. Each, through executive order, outlined and refined guidelines, then passed responsibility for implementation of this National Ocean Policy on to coastal states. Similar to federal fishery management Councils, regional bodies were also tasked with providing the expertise necessary for such a comprehensive approach to management.

Last Tuesday the current occupant of the Executive Office scuttled the United States' National Ocean Policy.

Tight lines,

Tom

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