Anne Lowe

PUBLIC INFORMATION – Two agencies charged with planning the implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act were ordered by a judge last week  to release their proposals for the South Coast Region of California.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force and the Master Plan Team for the Marine Life Protection Act South Coast Region were both deemed state agencies by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette. As state agencies, they are required to release documents requested under the California Public Records Act.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the task force has until October 10 to release the requested documents to Robert C. Fletcher, who sued for the records.

Fletcher, former president of the Sportfishing Association of California, could not be reached for comment. Blue Ribbon Task Force and Master Plan Team officials also could not be reached.

A spokesman for the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans, of which Fletcher is a member, said this is a major victory for fishing groups that have opposed all or parts of the MLPA.

The MLPA was passed by the state legislature in 1999 but only recently have sections of it been installed. The legislation called for the state to increase its effectiveness in protecting the state’s marine life, habitat and ecosystems.

Thus far, sections along the Central Coast and North Central Coast have been approved. The South Coast section is under environmental review and going through a public comment period until Oct. 19.

The next discussion about the MLPA South Coast Region will be in San Diego Oct. 20-21 during the state Fish and Game Commission meeting.

Fletcher filed suit in May after a request for documents pertaining to the task force’s implementation process was not answered. Court records show the Blue Ribbon Task Force did not consider itself to be a state agency because its funding comes partially from private entities.