NO FISHERMAN IS AN ISLAND; IT'S TIME FOR ANGLERS TO ACT.
Make your voice heard; idleness is worthless.
The state Fish and Game Commission, on Friday in Long Beach, will for the first time consider adopting policy proposed for developing marine ecological reserves - areas where angling is not permitted, to allow for the recovery of overtaxed fisheries.
Any action ultimately will impact two separate proposals to ban commercial harvesting and recreational fishing along no less than 20 percent of the shorelines of the six northernmost Channel Islands and out to one nautical mile.
You may have read about the often-heated Channel Islands issue in these pages, where it's been covered for the past 18 months. But the debate has apparently suffered from lack of public interest.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I believe the environmental catch phrase, ``marine protected areas,'' is critical and will mold the future of angling.
For example, marine biologists use a standard I call the ``theory of 20s'': By the year 2020, 20 percent of the world's fisheries must be closed to angling in order to maintain their natural populations. It is upon this hypothesis that the National Park Service and a citizens' panel calling itself the Channel Islands Marine Resource Restoration Committee based their proposals that 20 percent of the islands be off-limits to fishing.
What happened to the energy in March 1998 that led to a peaceful protest of the proposal at the Channel Islands National Park headquarters in Ventura? That was preceded by sharp criticism from commercial fishermen and divers, who called the recommendation too drastic and misguided during a meeting of the Ventura County Fish and Game Commission.
Apparently the opposition has waned more recently; the commission has heard little feedback, and even less from critics, since its proposed policy regarding marine protected areas was introduced in May and public comment was first entertained in June.
``To be honest, we haven't received that many letters, but the ones we have gotten have been supportive of it,'' said Bob Treanor, since 1990 the executive director of the five-member state Fish and Game Commission's staff. ``Even the detractors like the concept that has been proposed.
``People are supportive of a marine ecological reserve policy or position, and how you implement that will be a different story.''
(On Friday, the Fish and Game Commission also will hear public comment on how and where such policy would be enforced, if approved; it will consider adopting proposed ``implementation regulations'' Aug. 27 in Bridgeport.)
Hey, anglers, I thought I'd be writing stories with more balance from both camps for some time to come. Since this issue came to the forefront early last year, I've been deluged with comments and concerns. Some have been in favor of marine protected areas, but the vast majority oppose them. I guess it's the company I keep.
If you have something to say about such reserves, shame on you if you don't take it directly to the source - the commission that decides such issues. Friday's meeting may be your last chance.
``It's not too late. This is the process that we go through. I want the message to be clear that the public still has the opportunity to comment,'' Treanor said. ``You have to let the people know that their voice is important and we need to hear it and the commissioners don't have their minds made up.''
One of the groups most concerned about the establishment of marine protected areas - and specifically the Channel Islands fishing-ban proposal - is United Anglers of Southern California, a group of sportfishermen helping to restore ocean fisheries.
``It's time to show up,'' UASC president Tom Raftican said about Friday's commission meeting. ``Let's get the input into the system.''
Refreshingly, the Fish and Game Commission is one of the state's most accessible government agencies, routinely hopscotching around California - San Diego, `Sacramento, Riverside, Visalia, Oakhurst, Point Reyes Station, Redding - to hold its monthly meetings.
Perhaps it's no small coincidence that the policy regarding reserves was first scheduled as an action item for the meeting in Long Beach, where interest is keen regarding its impacts on the Channel Islands fishing-ban proposals.
``We want people there,'' Treanor said. ``That's why the commission moves around, sort of to bring government to the people.''
And, quite apart from the marine reserve issue, Friday also represents the final opportunity to submit recommendations for revisions to the state's sport-fishing regulations for the years 2000 to 2002 as they pertain to size and bag limits, gear restrictions and angling hours and seasons.
The suggestion I hear most often is raising the minimum size limit on slow-growing calico bass from 12 inches to 14 inches or greater. Another thought being bandied about is the option to start spearfishing salmon.
If you have a notion, no matter how fishy, take your case to the proper authorities and push the agenda; it may be the best way to get things done.
The state Fish and Game Commission meets today at 10 a.m. at the California State University Chancellor's Office Auditorium, 401 Golden Shore in Long Beach, and at 8:30 a.m. Friday at the City Council Chambers, 333 Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach.
Item 19, public comment and consideration of adoption of policy on marine ecological reserves (expected to be heard immediately after the meeting's 8:30 a.m. start).
Item 20, public comment on ``implementation regulations'' for marine ecological reserves.
Item 28, receipt of public recommendations for changes to the state's sport-fishing regulations for the years 2000 to 2002.
Information: State Fish and Game Commission office, (916) 653-4899.
- Daily News
Photo, Drawing, Box
Photo: (Color) A decision regarding marine reserves will impact fishing at the Channel Islands, where Pasadena's Nacho Martinez recently boated two bruiser white seabass at Anacapa Island.
Mike Moore/Special to the Daily News
Drawing: (Color) no caption (Man fishing, fish carrying protest signs)
Illustration by Jorge Irribarren/Staff Artist
Box: FISHY BUSINESS (See text)