Re: That is confusing

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Posted by Steve Lawson on July 28, 2008 at 14:38:37:

In Reply to: That is confusing posted by Elaine on July 28, 2008 at 08:01:31:


Theoretically, you can moor a boat just beyond California’s three-mile limit and take all of the BSB, undersized lobsters, abalone, etc. you want and consume them on site. I have a business card from the 1930s for a fishing barge that was moored off Hermosa Beach that states “No fishing license required” for reasons that it was outside of California.

One would think that California has no more legal right to exert its law beyond the three mile limit than it does into Oregon, Nevada, Arizona or Mexico, although the state has a reputation for attempts to enforce its laws beyond its borders. The most notable example is the “Battle of Santa Monica Bay” where the gambling barges of the late 1930s moored off Long Beach and Santa Monica Bay were deemed to be in the jurisdiction of California even through they were anchored beyond three miles from land. Similarly, the Olympic II was included into the State of California shortly after its sinking by arbitrarily drawing a line between Pt. Fermin and Pt. San Juan (now Dana Point).

I’ve been on a private boat boarded by F&G while anchored on the Olympic II.

I once asked a DF&G official about their jurisdiction, but couldn’t get a straight answer. An e-mail addressing that question went unanswered.

Generally, the border of California extends three miles with the notable exception of Monterey Bay. Bays, inlets and the like fall under the jurisdiction of the state, providing the headlands aren’t more than 6 miles apart. The three mile limit (and often the Federal 12 mile limit) is shown on navigational charts. Note that that three mile jurisdiction is not universal for all states—the states facing the Gulf of Mexico claim 9 miles.

While I’m of the opinion that California’s jurisdiction ends at three miles, the U.S. Supreme Court has a different one. In Skiriotes v. Florida, 313 U.S. 69 (1941) the Supreme Court ruled:

1. A State has power to govern the conduct of its citizens upon the high sea with respect to matters in which the State has a legitimate interest and where there is no conflict with Acts of Congress. P. 313 U. S. 77.

So, California may selectively choose to exercise its laws as it seems fit—cruise ships that open their casinos between L.A. and Avalon can be challenged, oil drilling in Federal waters beyond California can be challenged, CA F&G codes may apply to me and you, but it’s OK for commercial fishing boats with a California homeport manned by citizens of California to fish in “Federal” waters.

I’m not a big fisherman or particularly care for fish; however, in my 25 years of diving I’ve seen a noticeable decrease in the population of some fish. Gillnets are like floating chain link fences that indiscriminately kill everything and in my opinion, have no business within state or Federal waters.


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