Column: Marine Reserves will likely remain closed to sport fishing

Here’s a shocker for you: The California Fish and Game Commission isn’t enforcing a mandate in the Marine Life Protection Act and the Commissioners are saying no promises were ever made to anglers to reevaluate fishing closures.

The sportfishing community is acting outraged by this news.

The Marine Life Protection Act called for the creation of protected areas all along the California coast and left the decisions on where those areas were placed and the fishing and access restrictions up to the Fish and Game Commission. At the end of the long process that closed off a large portion of coast’s best fishing areas, anglers were promised (in the master plan and enabling legislation) after biological evaluations every five years, the success or failure of the closures would be analyzed and closed areas could be reopened.

The Fish and Game Commission said on April 13 they want to push back the evaluation schedule to every 10 years, and openings probably would never occur, regardless of the biological data. The Commission, which is currently operating with only three members, will make a final decision at its June meeting.

You can be outraged by this, but no one should be shocked. This is the same Commission that approved hugely unpopular Marine Reserve closures, in spite of two members voting for the closures that had massive conflict-of-interest issues and should have recused themselves. This is the same Commission that recently banned bobcat trapping without any – any – supporting science that bobcat numbers were being threatened by trapping. In fact, the data is just the opposite.

This Fish and Game Commission is out of control and needs to be reined in by the legislature. Commissioners are operating lawlessly, without consequences, and usurping the legislature’s power.

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