Reports say California wants to swipe away funds generated from fishing and hunting licenses to support the management of Marine Protection Areas.
An article in the Napa Valley Register brought our attention to the news that the state of California could be planning a raid of fishing license funds and divert money to Marine Protection Areas (MPAs), which support marine life and ecosystems.
While this is certainly a worthwhile effort, it could be a major blow to recreational fishing in the state, not to mention illegal. This is according to the California Sportfishing League (CSL), which is drumming up awareness of the issue through its social media outlets.
Driven by the the State Ocean Protection Council (OPC), the Marine Protected Area Partnership Plan would potentially pull funds from the Fish and Game Preservation Fund, earned through license fees.
Unfortunately, MPAs usually end up serving purposes that work against coastal fishing opportunities, and instead focus on non-game species.
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“California anglers pay costly licenses fees in order to fund recreational fishing programs,” said Marko Mlikotin, CSL’s Executive Director. “Raiding this special fund for an alternative use is simply a bait and switch scheme that threatens hunting and fishing programs. It is not honest for the state to ask anglers to pay for one thing, only to use it for another.”
And according to Section 711 of The Fish and Game Code, he’s not only right, but could be pointing out an illegality:
711. (a) It is the intent of the Legislature to ensure adequate funding from appropriate sources for the department. To this end, the Legislature finds and declares that:
(1) The costs of nongame fish and wildlife programs shall be provided annually in the Budget Act by appropriating money from the General Fund, through nongame user fees, and sources other than the Fish and Game Preservation Fund to the department for these purposes.
The California Fish and Game Commission is meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 3 to discuss the implications, and anglers and hunters concerned about the issue can email [email protected] to share their thoughts with the Fish and Game Commission.
California sportsmen should know where their license fees are going, and do what they can to help ensure it goes to the right causes.