Tuesday, August 31, 2010

MPA's - Are we on the wrong side?

There's been some discussions and public meetings concerning marine protected areas in area 4B, which is inside the Strait of Juan de Fuca at Neah Bay.  I testified against setting up these protected areas but I am having some reservations about my position relative to other conservation issues.

The arguments against MPA's sound very much like the past arguments from extractive industries protesting setting up National Parks, Wilderness areas, and basically any other form of environmental protections.  As I sat at the meeting last week I was struck with how much I disagreed with most of the opponents in their reasons for not allowing MPA's and their many off-topic rants on fishery issues

I am a big fan of National Parks.  I live right next to Olympic National Park and enjoy and am grateful for the land that was set aside many years ago.  I've had some amazing backcountry fishing trips this year that would not have been possible without the foresight of those who fought to set aside this land.  Preserved lands protect not only fish and wildlife, but clean water and an escape to natural sanctuaries for all citizens and visitors.  The same goes for wilderness areas and areas protected from our human instincts, which seem to be driven by a fervor to destroy nature and its diversity.  We are lucky that in most protected lands we still have the opportunity to fish.  Maybe that is the difference between land and water conservation.  MPA's close waters to fishing, which might be selfishly leading to my opposition.  I'd like to think I'm not that selfish, but in retrospect I might have to admit that I'm no better than the opposition to preserving land when it comes to basing my opinions on my own desire to do what I wish with the area.

How does one reconcile their own feelings towards one form of protection versus another?
Can you be for protecting forests, mountains, and streams but not for protecting underwater habitat?

In the future, will citizens be wondering how we could have been so short-sighted to not protect ocean habitat when we had the chance?  Are sportfishermen now on the wrong side of history on the issue of MPA's?  Should we be working with the proponents of MPA's to get them in the proper areas?

I haven't figured out my final stand on the issue, but I know it's not as simple as I thought it was initially.  Looking in the mirror and seeing hypocrisy staring back is never positive.

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