Legislators: Statewide fishing industry being harmed by climate change

SACRAMENTO — California’s fishing economy is in dire straits, according to a joint committee hearing in Sacramento on the state of fisheries and climate change.

State Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) chaired the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture’s 44th annual Zeke Grader Fisheries Forum on Capitol Hill on March 29, bringing legislators, department heads and the fishing community together to discuss current industry conditions and impending policy considerations.

One potential lightning rod of an issue is Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to establish an increased fee for commercial fishing landings, which is opposed by joint committee members.

“Our state of the fishery right now is in trouble. The hard working fishermen of this great state are dying the slow death of a thousand cuts. California’s formerly robust fisheries are facing unprecedented challenges,” McGuire said in his opening remarks.

The forum’s theme was “Fisheries in a Changing Climate” and featured several presentations on aquaculture, crab, lobster, salmon, sea urchin and seafood marketing.

McGuire said the state of California’s fisheries are directly affected by recent changes in weather conditions.

“The reason why we’re focused on climate: it’s changing,” McGuire said. “Despite what some might say at the federal level, climate change is a reality, and it’s made California’s coast and ocean sick. We’ve had extremely warm ocean conditions. According to scientists, we’ll continue to face them for decades.”

A combination of climate change and policy decisions on the federal level resulted in calamitous fishing conditions for anglers and commercial fishermen in California, according to McGuire.

“We are facing a true calamity here in California. Many families who have relied on the mighty Pacific for their livelihood are on the brink of economic ruin,” McGuire said. “Fishing ports and communities up and down our coast, whose health and economic vitality rely upon robust fisheries, are threatened by this historic crisis. Our most magnificent fishery resources have gone from abundance to scarcity in closed seasons.”

The fisheries forum was held just after Pres. Donald Trump’s executive order rescinded and revoked several of his predecessor’s policies addressing climate change and reducing methane emissions.

Trump stated the reversals were necessary to promote job creation and national security within the region.

“It is in the national interest to promote clean and safe development of our nation’s vast energy resources, while at the same time avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation,” Trump’s executive order stated. “Moreover, the prudent development of these natural resources is essential to ensuring the nation’s geopolitical security.”

(CDFW photo)

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