To: California State Fish & Game Commissioners
From: John and Barbara Stephens-Lewallen, Mendocino Sea Vegetable Company (707)895-2996
Subject: Vote Option Zero: No new Marine Protected Areas!
Dear California Fish & Game Commissioners,
We urge you to vote for Option Zero: no new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on California’s North Coast!
The last-minute attempt by State Parks representatives to change the stakeholder proposal by including MPAs in MacKerricher, Russian Gulch, and Van Damme State Parks is one example of a privately-run public process full of lies and deception, rife with private meetings, secret agendas, and changes made or denied based on political and economic power.
Our personal experience of being told by Commissioners in 2008 that no changes could be made in a North Central Coast stakeholder plan after it was presented to the Commission led to the closure of all tribal and non-commercial food gathering on Point Arena Lighthouse Point, including our blade-tip hand-harvest of sea palm, which had stimulated sea palm growth and provided us sustainable livelihood for over thirty years.
Last year we were happy to learn that the Commission had re-opened Kashaya tribal harvesting rights in a Stewart’s Point MPA, one example of how effective legal and political action can lead to changes in MPAs which contradict so-called scientific guidelines long after all stakeholder processes are done.
We speak now in unity with the Stewart’s Point community for Option Zero. Proposed new MPAs at Stewart’s Point would kill the sustainable hook-and-line fishery there, because Stewart’s Point residents lacked the time and money to attend the privately-run Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI) meetings.
We support tribal rights to gather food from coastal and offshore areas, as tribal people have done since time immemorial. We assert our rights, legal and Constitutional, to harmoniously and sustainably have access to ocean food throughout California.
We support the lawsuit United Anglers of Southern California versus the California Fish and Game Commission, asking court injunction and invalidation of all MPAs already declared on the North Central Coast and South Coast, a lawsuit which details the illegitimate and deceptive MLPAI process which will not be tolerated or respected by Californians.
A vote by you for Option Zero, no new North Coast MPAs, will save us all from a self-destructive battle among Californians, present and future, to achieve access to essential food from the ocean by completely invalidating all works of the MLPAI.
John and Barbara Stephens-Lewallen