SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The law firm of Allen, Matkins, Leck, Gamble, Mallory & Natsis, LLP, acting on behalf of United Anglers of Southern California (UASC) and petitioner Robert C. Fletcher, filed suit in California Superior Court Friday, May 28, 2010 against the Marine Life Protection Act Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF), the Marine Life Protection Act Master Plan Team (aka Science Advisory Team) and additional related defendants. According to the firm and UASC President Steven Fukuto, this action is the first step of a multi-stage litigation process.
The verified petition for writ of mandate and complaint was filed at the Sacramento County Courthouse for violation of the California Public Records Act, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The suit is tied to numerous requests made by the petitioner for key documents and records pertaining to California's Marine Life Protection Act implementation process. The BRTF and Science Advisory Team failed to respond to these requests.
Fletcher commented on his petition and said, "It is my contention that both the BRTF and the Master Plan Team are subject to the requirements of the California Public Records Act. As such, their refusal to respond to my requests for certain MLPA related records and documents is a direct violation of that Act. According to California law, any person may institute proceedings for injunctive or declaratory relief or writ of mandate in any court of competent jurisdiction to enforce their right to inspect or to receive a copy of any public record. This is a necessary first step to allow a thorough and careful scrutinizing of the entire MLPA process."
This effort is being is spearheaded by 501(c)(3) non-profit United Anglers of Southern California with the support of the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans (PSO) and its members, which includes - in addition to UASC - the American Sportfishing Association, Berkley Conservation Institute, supporting members of the Avalon Tuna Club, Coastside Fishing Club, International Game Fish Association, Kayak Fishing Association of California, National Marine Manufacturers Association, NorCal Kayak Anglers, Shimano Sport Fisheries Institute, Sportfishing Association of California, Southern California Marine Association and Watermen's Alliance.
"It has become more and more evident that the MLPA process is being steered off course by special interests - and political motivations - with dangerous potential for restricting many popular areas enjoyed by fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts," said Fukuto. "As Robert Fletcher said, this filing is a necessary and important first step in what will be an ongoing and thorough examination of this flawed process. Our legal team has identified several potential causes for action, and we will aggressively pursue any and all legal avenues to protect recreational access for fishermen and all Californians."