It will take more than that...

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Posted by seahunt on April 11, 2001 at 11:51:32:

In Reply to: It's Time To Be Responsible posted by Jim Hoffmann on April 11, 2001 at 08:53:41:

I think that that is a great idea Jim, but I don't think it will do
much. It is really not the sport fishers that have changed things.
Sport catch is such a small part to total take that stoping sport take
will make no difference.
The real problem is the Fish and Game laws. They seem designed to
promote overfishing. Look at it historically. What has happened to all
CA fisheries, starting with the Monterey sardines and going on
currently to rockfish and lingcod. Fish and Game laws always
promote harvesting to destruction of stocks. Part of the
problem is stupidly applying a human business model to a natural
resource. Part of the problem is how to make laws that can be enforced
economically. The Fish and Game must have policies of dock limits for
the commercial fishers. The law cannot be simply that you can harvest
all you can get. The law must be that the total harvest cannot exceed
what the resource can support. Dock limits can be enforced, because
the sale of seafoods is regulated. That is important.
It seems incredible. I always took the sea urchin and the sea cucumber
for granted. They were just part of the background. Then a commercial
fishery developed and they are no longer common and are disappearing.
Even the manic divers left the smaller sheepshead alone. Now with the
live fish fishery, any fish is valuable for the market. It seems that
of what is edible, only the Calico is immune to commercial interests...
and destruction.
Besides dock limits, research has shown that there must be areas left
alone to replentish adjacent fishing areas. This would be harder to
enforce, but individual islands could be closed for 10 years at a time.
Maybe even closure of parts could be enforced somehow.
The idea of closing Santa Barbara island to all fishing is appealing.
It is remote and no where near another island (that might be open for
hunting). It is the smallest island and may well be the most beautiful
diving of the islands. Unfortunately, I know that that is not best,
there should be a controlled harvest. Just turning off the harvest of
a healthy population isn't much better than unregulated harvest. It
just works that way. Maybe that argues for rotation closing of islands
to hunting.
It is nice that they lobster have managed to survive the commercial
fishers, but that fisher is still essentially unregulated and attempting
to destroy itself.
Everyone likes to talk about the value of the squid fishery and the out
of state boats showing up and how that might hurt the profit of the local
boats. Does anyone mention a population crash like the sardines and other
Now, as an ecologist, I can tell you that a very important factor in
reef population is MTV... Micro Topographical Variation. That is, holes
for the fish to hide in. It is critical, so one thing divers could do
to help the fish is while they dive, if they see a space between a
couple of rocks, pick up a rock and put it on top to make a fish house.
Believe it or not, this could make a difference, especially since divers
tend to open up natural fish houses.
Still, the most important change that must occur is the philosophy of
the Fish and Game regulation of the commercial fishers. We must have a
philosophy of sustained harvest instead of a plunder of every wild crop.
Of course, most of this becomes moot if the otters come back. Then
there will be nothing left to manage and no sport or commercial take
of intertidal life... except maybe calicos.
Enjoy the diving, seahunt

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