The Washington Times - November 12, 2009, 05:32PM

Talk about stirring up a hornets nest, few do it better than the Californians.

Currently, the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans, representing recreational fishing and boating interests in the state, is more than a little upset with a decision that could have a devastating effect on the public’s right to access coastal waters, not to mention declining incomes for businesses that cater to sport fishermen and boaters.


Under the California Marine Life Protection Act (known as MLPA), California’s South Coast Blue Ribbon Task Force — it was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — sent its own proposal to the state’s Fish and Game Commission even after a sensible solution to coastal problems had already been submitted. The Governator’s task force, however, didn’t like the proposal from the recreational fishing and boating community.

It ignored what the coastal residents wanted and it ignored the impact their plan will have on the state’s economy and budget. The task force just generally poked a stick into the eyes of all that disagreed.

The Partnership for Sustainable Oceans said particularly hard hit will be the Malibu, Orange County and San Diego County fishing communities because the governor’s plan would shut down vast coastal areas to fishing and boating, all with the thought that the marine life and underwater habitat needs to be so protected that no one can come near it.

“By making this decision, the Blue Ribbon Task Force passed over the three proposals it earlier voted to send to the Fish and Game Commission that were created by 64 stakeholders who worked 14 months to create [three] proposals under an ever changing set of guidelines,” said Bob Fletcher, former president of the Sportfishing Association of California, a regional stakeholder group member and PSO member.

“Proposal 2 has a high conservation value that is relatively the same as other proposals but would have the least economic impact on Southern California, particularly San Diego where fishing and boating is an integral component of the local economy. The BRTF choose to ignore Proposal 2 in favor of its own version.”

“Recreational fishermen are the first and best ocean stewards who strongly believe in conserving ocean resources and will be the first to step forward when conservation action is required,” said Patty Doerr, Ocean Resource Policy, American Sportfishing Association and PSO member. “In a sound public policy process, the conservation effort must also be balanced with responsibly regulated fishing, economic considerations and access to the fishery resource. The BRTF, in creating its own alternative, failed to meet these basic objectives.”

“This is a dark day for California’s recreational anglers”, said Steve Fukuto, president of the United Anglers of Southern California and a PSO member.

Indeed, it could also be a dark day for coastal recreational anglers on both sides of the U.S.

How long do you think it will take the preservationist anti-fishing, anti-boating factions in this country – who believe that places must be set aside that no human should ever be allowed to access – before other activists in coastal states will want to copy California?

Thus far, the California proposal is not set in stone, but many believe that the protective zones that will keep recreational anglers out will become reality.