Hansen: State's no-fishing rule stinks

July 14, 2011|By David Hansen

When fishing as a boy, I used to stare at my jar of salmon eggs and marvel. I wondered how they could arrive so perfectly formed and opaque and inherently controversial — stripped from their host like corn off a cob.

Years later as a reporter covering tribal fishing rights in the Pacific Northwest, I learned a lot more about salmon eggs, types of salmon, salmon hatcheries, salmon fillets, Copper River salmon (yes, they are worth the price) and how to properly paint a salmon-colored wall.

So it is with great interest I read about how the state of California basically will ban fishing off Laguna Beach starting Oct. 1 (Coastline Pilot, "State's 'no fishing' rule starts in fall," July 8).


There are some activities in life — fishing, hunting, reading a paper, purchasing certain goods and services — that are closely tied to "inalienable rights." People get emotional when you take them away.

There are also times when those activities become at risk due to overuse.

The truth is often somewhere in the middle.

Unfortunately, in our day, it takes lawsuits to figure it all out, and that's what will happen here.

Several different groups, including the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans, United Anglers of Southern California and Coastside Fishing Club, are asking the court to set aside regulations established through the state's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

"The validity of these regulations is being challenged in court," said Mike Leonard, ocean resource policy director for the American Sportfishing Assn. "That battle is far from over. Much can happen between now and Oct. 1."

The groups' arguments are largely over procedure; they cite the alleged influence of environmental groups in the formation of the new law, along with accusations of violating the California Environmental Quality Act.

But they also said in a prepared statement that they are fighting for "everybody who enjoys fishing in our state's ocean waters, whether from surf, pier, powerboat or kayak."

"We are also protecting the interests of all those who treasure open access to our ocean and the coast, from sport divers and surfers to swimmers and beachcombers," the statement said. "We also represent the interests of businesses tied to recreational fishing and boating, such as tackle shops, fuel docks, hotels, marinas and boat dealerships."

On the other side are environmentalists and government agencies, trying to keep healthy stocks of marine life.

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