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Posted by John H. Moore on March 10, 2003 at 21:21:34:

The California Legislature’s Joint Committee on Fisheries & Aquaculture will meet this Wednesday, March 12th, to hear from various interest groups, particularly fishers who are unhappy with marine protected areas and other types of closures. This would be a good time to remind the committee members that there are ordinary citizens of the State of California who favor managing our ocean in such a way that there’s something left for future generations*. Some of the people testifying will be the same folks doing everything they can to oppose, stall, and sue over things such as the MLPA and the Channel Islands MPAs.

Contact info for the committee members is below. Here are the things which I would suggest commenting on to these legislators:

- the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Regional Working Groups are currently stalled out, for budgetary reasons. Urge the committee either to get these Regional Working Groups going again or to legislatively put in place temporary closures according to the work of the original Master Plan Team until such time as the Regional Working Group process can be restarted. With the RWG’s stalled and without any temporary measures, we’re probably looking at a minimum of another five years before any kind of protection gets into place. Further delay in nearshore closures, particularly given last year’s shelf closures and the shift in fishing pressure to the nearshore, is a real issue.

- Oppose SB281 (Oller). This bill takes the fairly silly stand that since we cannot prove that rod and reel fishers caused the destruction of our fish stocks, rod and reel fishing should be exempted from marine closures. (We cannot prove levels of causation between commercial and recreational fishing because the State doesn’t collect sufficient data.) The bill is not that simple, but the end effect is that simple. Boiled down: it doesn’t make one whit of difference who caused the destruction, the fact is that it exists and allowing rod and reel fishing in all marine protected areas is a really bad idea and in direct opposition to the requirements of the MLPA. In some fisheries, rod and reel fishing has considerable effect and more than the fishery can currently accommodate. Note that this bill says nothing about spearfishing or lobster hunting or anything else which would directly affect consumptive divers. Regardless of who’s to blame for the massive depletion of our fisheries, State Marine Reserves are both proven science for the beginnings of a remedy and are requirements of the MLPA.

You can find details on SB281 by using

If you find terms like "massive depletion" overly dramatic, then talk with someone who was diving here 30, 40 or 50 years ago. Look at pictures of what was easily harvested in very short amounts of time in the first half of the last century. The fact that we’ve now got a dozen giant sea bass at several popular Southern California dive sites does not mean that everything’s OK... it means that we’re really happy to have more than zero.


E-mail contacts for committee members:,,,,,,

*Given that the VAST majority of divers with whom I have contact on these issues favor at least some, if not huge amounts of, protection of our ocean, I am writing from that perspective. Obviously, should you
feel differently, feel free to make the same contacts which I suggest but from a different perspective.

TEXT OF SB281 (only the part which would become law, not the intro/etc; the first clause in (a), which I have put in BOLD, is the most serious of many problems... this requirement could not be met by currently collected data and would be the subject of endless lawsuits -- the net effect of not being able to prove this clause is that you couldn't close any areas to rod and reel fishing)

1702. Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, the marine waters of the state may only be closed to rod and reel fishing if the department makes all of the following determinations:
(a) A clear indication exists that rod and reel fishing is the cause of a specific conservation problem and that less severe conservation measures, including, but not limited to, minimum size requirements, bag limits, and seasonal closures will not adequately provide for conservation of the affected stocks of fish.
(b) The closed area regulation, rule, or order includes specific measureable criteria to determine the conservation benefit of the closed area on the affected stocks of fish and provides a timetable for review of the continued need for the closed area at least once every three years.
(c) The closed area is no larger than necessary, and is supported by the best available scientific information.
(d) Adequate procedures exist to reopen the closed area to rod and reel fishing whenever the basis for the closure no longer exists.

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