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Posted by Dr. Bill on December 12, 2005 at 17:33:26:

In Reply to: Catalina Island and Marine Reserves posted by Dr. Bill on December 06, 2005 at 22:23:12:

Here is a post I made on SB.com in response to a fisher's criticism of those trying to establish the Edward F. Ricketts reserve up in Monterey. It is a good follow up to my post here as well.

Yes, fishers and hunters (as I've acknowledged previously) have greatly assisted in the conservation of some species. However, most of them have focused on single species conservation rather in preserving the ecosystems which are essential to support any species. Ducks, Unlimited I think is a significant exception to this (and a number of the billfishing interests have recently turned towards a more ecostem-based approach).

To think that by raising fish of a given species in hatcheries and releasing them into the wild will preserve that species smacks of ecological illiteracy. For example, with the white sea bass efforts there is a growing recognition of the need to curtail the harvest of market squid which are a major food source for these fish in the wild (at least on a season basis).

It should also be clear to anyone, fishers included, who take the long-term view of our marine environments that unbridled fishing (as has largely been the case in California for the past 100+ years) has left our ecosystems nearly devoid of many common target species and thereby significantly impacted the composition and balance of the ecosystems involved. I have talked to a number of the old timers who have fished Catalina waters for as much as 80 years. I can't remember ANY of them saying fishing is better now than it was previously.

I repeat... it is the need to preserve ECOSYSTEMS, not just individual species, that was recognized by the MLPA as opposed to much of the historical regulation that CDF&G has imposed which has been species-based.

Although it is obvious that commercial fishers are a major cause of some of these changes, recreational fishers have a far greater impact than most people realize. How do you account for declines in species that are illegal to take commercially, but fair game for recreational fishers?

Also keep in mind the example I stated previously. We see a fairly large number of party boats out in Catalina waters. Often these vessels are very close to our existing reserves for some strange reason... could it be the captains realize that reserves do work and can also benefit fishers through spillover? If a large party boat has 90-100 anglers on board and they fish a given site to the point where each angler gets 1-2 fish, that means that 90-200 fish have been removed from that site within a few hours. Add up all the other party boats fishing our waters. Anyone with a basic understanding of simple math (or a hand calculator) can figure out that such pressure can cause serious impacts on local stocks... especially if there are no reasonably sized reserve areas to serve as sources for spillover into the non-reserve areas.

As for non-take, non-consumptive users paying fees to maintain reserves, etc., I would be happy to pay an annual fee to help support these efforts. However, we are not the ones who remove from the ecosystem... we appreciate what is there. Fees should be largely levied on those who take, and who in many cases are the cause of the problem requiring remedial action.

I wonder how long you have been diving the State's waters? I have dived them for nearly 40 years and have seen the changes that have occured just within that period. Your argument (and that of many very selfish fishers) simply lacks any real rigor in terms of logic or science.

Again, I call upon King Solomon to make the fairest division of our waters: 50% for non-consumptive use and 50% for fishers and others. And if the fishers and other consumptive users are really smart, they will eventually realize that the 50% set aside for marine reserves actually benefit them tremendously in the future when their children (and mine) go fishing.

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