Los Angeles, CA - November 10, 2009 - The Partnership for Sustainable Oceans (PSO), which represents recreational fishing and boating interests in California, today denounced a decision that could have a devastating effect on California's economy and the public's right to access the state's coastal waters.
Under the California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), California's South Coast Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF), appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, today voted to send its own preferred alternative proposal to the state's Fish and Game Commission (FGC) that will close vast areas of the South Coast to public access, ignoring the impact this decision will have on the state's economy and budget. Particularly hard hit will be the Malibu, Orange County and San Diego County fishing communities. The recreational fishing and boating community supported Proposal 2, a proposal drafted in part by recreational and commercial fishermen and that provided significant additional conservation for California's ocean resources while minimizing the economic impact of lost fishing opportunity.
"By making this decision, the BRTF 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 these three proposals under an ever changing set of guidelines," said Bob Fletcher, former president, 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."
The South Coast BRTF met October 20-22, 2009, to review three marine protected area (MPA) proposals, including Proposal 2, to be forwarded to the FGC for consideration during its December meeting in Los Angeles. At that meeting, the BRTF voted to advance all three proposals to the FGC. The BRTF met again on November 10 to finalize the development of an integrated preferred alternative that would include elements from the other three proposals. Proposal 2 is one of the original three proposals forwarded to the FGC. Proposal 2 placed MPAs in locations with a high level of conservation while minimizing the economic impact on local communities and allowing recreational anglers maximum access to fishing.
"The action of the BRTF flies in the face of California residents' ability to access our state's coastal waters and prime fishing grounds," said Paul Lebowitz, director, Kayak Fishing Association of California, regional stakeholder group member and PSO member. "In four surveys conducted during the last two years by Field Research and Research Analytics & Strategy, Californians have clearly demonstrated they strongly support maintaining recreational fishing as an activity to be enjoyed by everyone. From a Field Research poll in mid-2007 to a recent poll of Laguna Beach residents, Californians have repeatedly said they support recreational fishing, want it to continue, and favor recreational fishing over marine reserves."
"This is a dark day for California's recreational anglers", said Steve Fukuto, president, United Anglers of Southern California and PSO member. "Most disappointing is the fact that anglers provide approximately $70 million each year to California for marine fisheries management and countless hours of volunteer time to support fisheries in the state. For example, United Anglers of Southern California were instrumental in creating the white sea bass hatchery program. No other user group even comes close to this level of investment - certainly not the people who support closing our state waters to California's residents."
As this BRTF creation moves to the FGC, the PSO will continue to support Proposal 2. Fletcher further said, "It is simply the most balanced alternative and represents the least negative economic and social impact. It chooses the heritage of recreational fishing in Southern California over symbolic gestures that are not necessary for the protection of our ocean resources. As a community, our goal from the very beginning has been to maximize the conservation of our oceans with the least impact on the economy. Proposal 2 does just that."
The PSO encourages recreational anglers and boaters to attend the December 9, 2009 FGC meeting in Los Angeles where the BRTF will present its preferred alternative to the FGC. Lebowitz aid, "Anglers should attend and voice their support for Proposal 2 and against the preferred alternative."
The PSO includes the American Sportfishing Association, Berkley Conservation Institute, Coastside Fishing Club, Contributing Members of the Avalon Tuna Club, International Game Fish Association, Kayak Fishing Association of California, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Nor-Cal Kayak Anglers, Shimano Sport Fisheries Initiative, Southern California Marine Association, the Sportfishing Association of California, United Anglers of Southern California and the Watermen's Alliance.