Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Coastal Fishing

Changing a centuries old tradition of fishing freedom, the state has closed or restricted several coastal areas fishing access.

Editorial: 'Leave no trace'
Central Coast boasts marine protected areas
Published 12:00 am PDT Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The California Fish and Game Commission took a courageous step Friday by approving the nation's largest network of near-shore marine reserves.

The designation creates 29 separate protected areas along the Central Coast, encompassing 200 square miles of water.

Fishing will be restricted in some of these areas; banned in others. Many scientists predict that reduced fishing pressure will produce bigger fish and more healthy habitats of kelp and rocky shorelines. The spillover is likely to help marine life -- and fishermen -- far outside the protected zones.

Anyone reading news coverage of this decision likely will notice the negatives.

Words like "banned" and "restricted" sound draconian, especially for fishermen already reeling from Pacific Coast rules aimed at protecting rockfish and salmon.

No doubt this transition will be painful at first, partly because of the symbolism.

For centuries, coastal waters have been open to all, with fishing generally regulated on a species-by-species basis. Now, people want some marine habitats treated like wilderness areas, with access limited to activities such as snorkling and kayaking that "leave no trace."