The Yurok Tribe delivered a proposal before the California Fish and Game Commission in Eureka on Wednesday, April 11 "giving the board an opportunity to better protect the Tribe's right to traditionally harvest of marine resources," according to a press release from the Tribe.
The Fish and Game Commission meeting was one of the final steps in the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative process to create "marine protected areas" in the North Coast Study Region. The North Coast Study Region begins at Alder Point near Point Arena and ends at the California/Oregon border.
The deadline for written comments regarding the MLPA environmental impact report (EIR) was Monday, April 16. The Commission plans to make its final decision regarding the marine protected area in Eureka on Thursday, June 14.
Tribal representatives proposed the following:
• Reading Rock- Tribal Take Option (B) Reclassify Reading Rock from a State Marine Reserve to a State Marine Conservation Area. This would allow for specific federally recognized tribes to take living marine resources pursuant to existing regulations.
• Reading Rock SMCA- Name Option (B) Rename as Reading Rock Onshore SMCA if Reading Rock SMR Take Option B (above) is selected.
• 'No change' for the specific location of False Klamath Rock Season Special Closure and require the "Special Closure" for False Klamath Rock to be dealt with in a future process.
The Draft Environmental Impact Report reviews, under the California Environmental Quality Act
(CEQA), two different proposals. The first is a "No Project Alternative," which compares "the impact of approving the action against the impacts of not approving the action."
"The Revised Round 3 NCRSG MPA Proposal, crafted and supported by a wide array of coastal stakeholders including all of the city, county and tribal governments in the study area, was taken off the table by the Marine Life Protection Act's Blue Ribbon Task Force, despite much opposition from most of the stakeholders and supporters including the Yurok Tribe," the Tribe stated.
"In the Enhanced Compliance Alternative, the second proposal, there are two possible protected areas within Yurok ancestral territory near Reading Rock and False Klamath Rock. At Reading Rock, there are two options before the Commission," the Tribe said.
The first, and current preferred alternative under the MLPA process, is an offshore State Marine Reserve (SMR) status that calls for zero human take of any marine species, according to the Tribe.
The second option is a State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) designation, both on and offshore, which would allow some commercial and recreational harvest, while authorizing access to Tribal members with a valid Tribal ID card.
The proposal also calls for a Seasonal Special Closure for False Klamath Rock. In this area there would be a 300-foot seasonal closure around the rock from March 1 to August 31 for avian nesting.
"Yurok people are a vital part of the marine ecosystem. Yurok Tribal members have traditionally harvested marine resources for subsistence or ceremony in a way that is culturally appropriate and completely since time immemorial," the Tribe stated.
For more information, contact Matt Mais, Yurok Tribe, (707) 482-1350 ext. 1306, Cell (707) 954-0976.
In 2010 and 2011, members of North Coast Indian Tribes organized direct action protests to defend traditional gathering rights.
In the most recent protest, members of the Yurok, Hoopa Valley, Karuk and other Tribes on June 18, 2011 gathered seaweed, mussels and clams at three beaches on the North Coast to protest proposed restrictions on coastal gathering proposed under the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. The Tribal members, organized by the grassroots Klamath and Coastal Justice Coalitions, gathered at Patrick's Point State Park, Clam Beach and Wilson Creek Beach near Klamath.
"Our rights are not negotiable," said Hoopa Tribal Citizen Dania Rose Colegrove, an organizer for the Klamath Justice Coalition, who gathered seaweed and mussels along with 11 others at Patrick's Point. "The state of California, under the MLPA Initiative, is trying to make us into 'recreational users.' However, where we gather as Tribal members is none of their business."
For more information, go to: http://klamathjustice.blogspot...
For more information on the North Coast MLPA process, visit online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/ mlpa/northcoast.asp.