The Marine Life Protection Act, that effectively changed the California Constitution without the knowledge or consent of the voters, proceeded to lie dormant for almost five years. The California Dept. of Fish and Game made two attempts to implement the new law, but was met with strong opposition, lack of public involvement, and lack of funding. The scientific rationalization for closing down large areas of the ocean was also missing.
Since the Marine Life protection Act abrogates rights guaranteed to the citizens of California, one would think the people would have a direct say if these rights were to be altered. At very least, you would think that every person in the state would have some knowledge that their rights and privileges were being taken away.
Article 1, Section 25 of the state’s constitution reads as follows:
ARTICLE 1 DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
Section 25. The people shall have the right to fish upon and from the public lands of the State and in the waters thereof, excepting upon lands set aside for fish hatcheries, and no land owned by the State shall ever be sold or transferred without reserving in thepeople the absolute right to fish thereupon; and no law shall ever be passed making it a crime for the people to enter upon the public lands within this State for the purpose of fishing in any water containing fish that have been planted therein by the State; provided, that the legislature may by statute, provide for the season when and the conditions under which the different species of fish may be taken.
Of course, lawyers in Sacramento soon found loopholes around the intent of the Constitution, and the MLPA Initiative was pushed forward without the knowledge of the vast majority of Californians. Some put the number who knew what was happening as low as 1%. The only people informed were those living on the coast, who had a direct involvement in the maritime economy. These folks were sought out through the local word of mouth grapevine – that the decade old law had finally found funding, and was going into effect, like it or not.
In the vast “study region” of the North Coast of California, that includes a population of over 250,000, only a few hundred took part in a “process” – that was to change the political rules in California, making them up as they went.