In a world that made sense, recreational fishermen and environmentalists would stand on the same side—but not as we enter the final weeks of public involvement in the implementation of the North Central Coast phase of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). Public meetings in San Rafael, April 22&–23, will allow fishermen and other stakeholders to voice their opinions on the current state bid to indefinitely close parts of the North Coast to fishing, which will be decided on before the year's end.
Of five initial draft proposals for the North Central Coast, three remain: 1-3, 2-XA and 4. Many recreational fishermen adamantly oppose proposal 4, which, among other things, would close almost all recreational bottom fishing at Duxbury Reef, a popular destination for Bay Area boat fishermen. Other important fishing and diving sites along the coast of San Mateo, Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino counties would be closed as well, while leaving the virtually inaccessible waters off Sea Ranch open, a relatively empty gesture. Many opponents of proposal 4, however, support 2-XA, which would allow continued fishing at Duxbury and other popular sites.
Coastside Fishing Club, a web-based community of 14,000 California fishermen, has largely fueled the opposition to the MLPA, and has strongly influenced the drafting of proposal 2-XA, what many fishermen feel is the least of three evils. Club secretary Mike Giraudo sees the MLPA as just one part of a long-term attack on recreational fishing; he believes that there will be no turning back, ever, once the proposed closures are implemented. "Once they get their teeth into this and get us used to the restrictions, I don't think they'll ever go away."
Various environmental organizations have supported and funded the MLPA process with the hope of ending commercial and recreational fishing in many locations, but many fishermen have voiced the opinion that "enviros" are barking up the wrong tree and that the fishermen themselves are, in fact, enviros. (The full word is disdained by many fishermen.)
"The truth is, most fishermen aren't bad guys out to catch the last fish," Giraudo says.
Passed in 1999, the MLPA has since made sweeping changes in regulations and restrictions on marine life harvest along portions of the California coast. The ultimate goal of the MLPA is to promote recovery of depleted fisheries, but some fishermen only foresee the end of their favored pastime. Those who wish to speak out for or against MLPA draft proposals are encouraged to attend the meetings. This could be the final call.
Meetings are scheduled Tuesday&–Wednesday, April 22&–23, at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 101 McInnis Parkway, San Rafael. 9:30am.
More info is available at [ http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/meetings.asp#brtf ]http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/meetings.asp#brtf.