Despite its mission of promoting conservation, the California Fish and Game Commission will leave its ban on coastal fishing in California in place.
The already troubled California Fish and Game Commission has not only abandoned its mission of promoting conservation efforts in the Golden State. It has also decided to keep a ban–better known as the Marine Life Protection Act–on coastal fishing in Southern California in place.
The Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) seeks to “redesign California’s system of marine protected areas (MPAs) to function as a network in order to: increase coherence and effectiveness in protecting the state’s marine life and habitats, marine ecosystems, and marine natural heritage, as well as to improve recreational, educational and study opportunities provided by marine ecosystems subject to minimal human disturbance.” It was adopted into law in 1999 but modified in 2010 to include a ban on coastal fishing from Santa Barbara to the U.S.-Mexico border. This proposed rule went fully into effect on January 1, 2012. Below are the six goals of the MLPA:
- Protect the natural diversity and abundance of marine life, and the structure, function and integrity of marine ecosystems.
- Help sustain, conserve and protect marine life populations, including those of economic value, and rebuild those that are depleted.
- Improve recreational, educational and study opportunities provided by marine ecosystems that are subject to minimal human disturbance, and to manage these uses in a manner consistent with protecting biodiversity.
- Protect marine natural heritage, including protection of representative and unique marine life habitats in CA waters for their intrinsic values.
- Ensure California’s MPAs have clearly defined objectives, effective management measures and adequate enforcement and are based on sound scientific guidelines.
- Ensure the State’s MPAs are designed and managed, to the extent possible, as a network.
As a result of these new regulations, recreational fishing and corresponding tourism ventures have suffered.
“The state’s failure to study Marine Protected Areas in a timely fashion is having a profound impact on communities that depend on recreational fishing for outdoor tourism and jobs,” said Marko Mlikotin, executive director of the California Sportfishing League (CSL), to Sportfishing Magazine. “It is evident that Marine Protected Areas that were once viewed as marine restoration projects are becoming permanent fishing bans.”
“In order to build public support for Marine Protected Areas, the state reassured anglers, time after time, that environmental assessments would be conducted every five years so that when fishing populations returned, so would sportfishing,” said Paul Lebowitz, a former member of the state’s South Coast Regional Stakeholder Group. “Today (April 14, 2016), the commission is breaking faith with California anglers by introducing what appears to be at best an uncertain environmental review process and at worst, a permanent fishing ban.”
The California Fish & Game Commission is under fire for promoting preservation efforts over conservation efforts–signaling the influence of radical environment groups over the once reputable commission. Two of the five commission board members recently resigned over the commission’s bias against sportsmen.
MLPA regulations will continue to have deleterious effects on Southern Californians, the fishing industry there, and tourism if changes or improvements aren’t made.
I lived in Southern California most of my life and left soon after these rules were enacted. Many fishermen I met at Dana Point Harbor, where I would charter boats from, complained about these new regulations and the toll they would have on their livelihoods. These fishermen, like the majority of fishermen, are law-abiding and care about true sustainable efforts that benefit both humans and fish. To see outdoor opportunities disappear in my home state is truly saddening.