Marine Life Protection Act boosted by judge’s rejection of lawsuit by sport fishing groups

The California League of Conservation Voters has hailed a final ruling by San Diego Superior Court Judge Ronald Prager dismissing a lawsuit brought by a handful of sport fishing groups that sought to derail a decade-long effort to establish protections for key coastal ecosystems along the California coast.

The scientifically-based regulations, established as part of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), are the result of hundreds of stakeholder meetings held by the Fish and Game Commission throughout the state during the past decade that elicited tens of thousands of comments from business owners, ocean protection advocates, and anglers. The MLPA received bipartisan support and was signed by Governor Davis in 1999; the lawsuit aimed to scuttle the law’s implementation and require additional permits for the marine areas from the California Coastal Commission.

“This slam-dunk win for the state and our oceans is the end of the line for the special interests who have burdened taxpayers with lawsuits and delaying tactics and have run a short-sighted campaign of scare tactics instead of looking out for the long-term health of our oceans,” says California League of Conservation Voters Chief Executive Officer Warner Chabot. “The court’s decision is a solid victory for common-sense protections that will help our fisheries recover and flourish for future generations.”

The lawsuit was filed by the United Anglers of Southern California and backed by the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans, a fishing equipment group. It was opposed by the state’s leading conservation groups, as well as the Fish and Game Commission.

“We are thankful for the leadership and diligent work of Attorney General Kamala Harris in standing up to the out-of-state special interest groups that attempted to delay and upend protection of California’s ocean resources,” said Chabot. “The inclusive effort to build consensus among stakeholder groups for ocean protections was long and difficult, and we’re pleased that the Attorney General recognized the importance of fending off a baseless lawsuit by the handful of those who didn’t get their way and tried to blow up the resulting regulations.”