LOS ANGELES — It was one of the most important decisions for the California Fish and Game Commission in 10 years. Yet President Mike Flores and Commissioner James Kellog weren’t there.
The governor-appointed commission ended four years of debate Wednesday when it declared more than 100 square miles of ocean around the Channel Islands off-limits to fishing. The move creates one of the largest marine reserves in the country.
But the reserves won with support from only two of the five members, leading some angry fishermen to question the process.
Neither Flores nor Kellog could be reached for comment despite repeated attempts made by The Associated Press.
The Fish and Game Commission post is a six-year, part-time assignment, with commissioners earning a maximum of $500 a month and meeting about 25 times each year. The commissioners, who all also work full-time, set the state’s fish and game policy.
Commissioners Bob Hattoy and Sam Schuchat voted in favor of the reserve. Both were appointed by Gov. Gray Davis, as were the two absent commissioners. Mike Chrisman, who was appointed by former governor Pete Wilson, voted against the proposal.
Flores, who is Secretary of Foreign Affairs for Davis, was sick Wednesday, said Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for the governor.
“He’s back at work here today,” said Maviglio on Thursday. “It’s ridiculous for the governor to comment on a member of an individual commission who was sick.”
Flores did not attend a hearing Thursday in Crescent Mills in Northern California.
Kellog is a top union representative for the United Association of Journeyman and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada.