MLPA Initiative doesn’t create ‘Yosemites of the Sea’

Vernal Falls, Yosemite 

by Dan Bacher

A network of so-called “marine protected areas” created under the helm of a big oil lobbyist went into effect on the Southern California coast from Point Conception to the Mexico/U.S. border on January 1, 2012.

Advocates for the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative that created these “marine protected areas” continually refer to them as “Yosemites of the Sea” and “underwater parks.”

However, nothing could be further from the truth. There is no doubt that John Muir, who fought successfully for the preservation of the Yosemite Valley and unsuccessfully for the preservation of the Hetch Hetchy Valley on the Tuolumne River, and Teddy Roosevelt, the founder of the country’s National Parks, would be outraged about these so-called “marine protected areas” being called “Yosemites of the Sea” if they were still alive.

The comparison of the so-called “marine protected areas” to National Parks like Yosemite and Kings Canyon has no basis in fact.

First, the national parks don’t prohibit recreational fishing, including even catch and release fishing, like many of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative’s “marine protected areas” do. You can fish in Yosemite, Kings Canyon and other national parks – it is one of the many recreational activities that visitors can enjoy when they go to these parks.

Theodore Roosevelt was an avid outdoorsman – and made sure that the national parks allowed fishing and other outdoor recreation in their boundaries, unlike the “no fishing zones” created under the MLPA Initiative.

Second, the creation of the National Parks wasn’t implemented through funding by private corporations like the MLPA has been. Five non-profit corporations donated a total of $20 million to implement the MLPA Initiative, according to Ted Reckas in his article, “Marine Hearings Buoyed by Nonprofits.” (

The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, a shadowy organization that North Coast environmental leader John Lewallen describes as a “money laundering operation” for corporate money, received the funds from these foundations to implement the unpopular MLPA process.

The David and Lucillle Packard Foundation contributed $8.2 million to fund MLPA hearings. The Packard Foundation is not only the biggest funder of the MLPA, but also funded studies to build the peripheral canal, including the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) report in July 2008 calling for the construction of a canal. The peripheral canal is opposed by a coalition of fishermen, environmentalists, Indian Tribes, family farmers and Delta residents.

The Laguna Beach-based Marisla Foundation, founded by Getty Oil heiress Anne Getty Earhart, gave another $3 million over several years, according to the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation donated $7.4 million. Gordon and Betty Moore are the founders of the Foundation, and Gordon also serves as chairman of the board. Gordon Moore is co-founder of Intel Corporation and Chairman Emeritus of the Corporation’s Board of Directors.

The Keith Campbell Foundation’s contributed $1.2 million to the MLPA Initiative. D. Keith Campbell founded Campbell and Company, now one of the largest derivative investment managers in the world, in 1972, and currently serves as Chairman of its Board of Directors.

Finally, the Annenberg Foundation contributed $200,000. The Annenberg Foundation is a private foundation established in 1989.

Third, I’m not aware aware of any oil industry lobbyists, real estate executives, marina developers or other corporate operatives like those found on the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force overseeing the founding and operation of the National Parks.

I certainly don’t think Teddy Roosevelt or John Muir would endorse Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s appointment of Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association, as the Chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast that created the dubious “marine protected areas” that kicked anglers off the water on January 1.

Reheis-Boyd is hardly a “guardian” of the oceans and the environment, since she has relentlessly campaigned for new oil drilling off the West Coast, the construction of the Keystone-XL Pipeline and the evisceration of environmental laws.

Third, oil spills, oil drilling, military testing, aquaculture and water pollution aren’t allowed in National Parks. In contrast with the National Parks, the MLPA doesn’t prohibit human activities other than fishing and gathering in the “marine protected areas” that Schwarzenegger relentlessly promoted.

In fact, the MLPA Initiative has gone to great lengths to make sure that the oil industry and the ocean industrialists can continue business as usual on the ocean.

The collusion between the oil industry, MLPA Initiative and corporate “environmental” NGOs was revealed in a March 10 article in the Santa Barbara Independent (

The official language for a new marine protected area in the Isla Vista area of Santa Barbara County reads, “Take of all living marine resources is prohibited, except for take pursuant to operation and maintenance of artificial structures inside the conservation area … ”

“The caveat, allowing marine resources to be taken near artificial structures, exists to allow oil production representatives the ability to maintain equipment, including pipelines, located in this area,” the article stated.

So the “protection” created under this glorious “Yosemite of the Sea” and “underwater park” off Isla Vista doesn’t extend to the operations of the oil industry! Does anybody think that Muir and Roosevelt would endorse such a loophole that allows the oil industry to do business as usual – but not let a kayaker catch a few fish for the table?

John Muir had some harsh words for those who seek to industrialize and privatize ocean and land resources – and destroy the “temples” of nature such as was done to the Hetch Hetchy Valley by the City of San Francisco. His words are even more appropriate now than they ever were in his own time, since they describe the corporate domination of so-called “environmental” processes like the MLPA Initiative and the equally corrupt Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral canal.

“These temple-destroyers, devotees of ravaging commercialism, seem to have a perfect contempt for Nature, and instead of lifting their eyes to the God of the mountains, lift them to the Almighty Dollar. Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people’s cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man,” Muir said in The Yosemite (1912).

Dave Gurney, Co-Chair of the Ocean Protection Coalition, strongly criticizes corporate “environmentalists” that “sickeningly and self-righteously now refer” to the MLPA” “marine protected areas” as their “Yosemites of the Sea.”

Unlike the corporate “environmentalists,” grassroots environmentalists, in their comments regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the Marine Protected Area (MPA) proposals covering California’s North Coast Study Region, are now demanding that true, comprehensive marine protection be provided. A 45-day public comment and review period will run through April 16.

“If you can take the time to send in comments on this EIR, please ask why the ‘marine protected areas’ negligently do NOTHING to protect the closed areas from oil drilling, wind and wave industrial projects, ocean mining, navy testing, fish farming, or any other human impacts on the ocean BESIDES throwing the people of California off of their water,” said Ed Oberweiser and Elaine Charkowski, the newsletter editors for the Ocean Protection Coalition. “These are located in areas that are of obvious commercial and economic interest to the very people who conjured up this version of the 1999 Marine Life Protection Act.”

To read and comment about the DEIR, go to:

The corporate “environmentalists” can call the “marine protected areas” “Yosemites of the Sea,” “underwater parks” or whatever they want, but these closed fishing zones have nothing to do with the vision that John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt had for our national parks as public places for the public to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the outdoors.


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One Response to MLPA Initiative doesn’t create ‘Yosemites of the Sea’

  1. Tidal Pule says:

    Print something positive about marine protection. I dare you: