Has Southern California restricted fishing? It depends on who you ask…

  • Published on May 16th, 2011

When will controversial new regulations to create “marine protected areas” on the South Coast go into effect? It depends on who you ask.

Fish and Game says one thing…

The new rules were adopted in December by the California Fish and Game Commission as part of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. But the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has issued conflicting information on when the reserves will go into effect, creating great confusion among anglers.

The department’s Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet, posted just six weeks ago on March 1, 2011, erroneously states on page 59, “New Southern California marine protected areas will go into effect this spring.”

… and also something else…

At the same time, the DFG website currently states that the south coast MPA regulations “are anticipated to go into effect in mid 2011 after appropriate filings with the Office of Administrative Law and the Secretary of State.”

To make things even more confusing, California Department of Fish and Game personnel stated during the May 4-5, 2011 California Fish and Game Commission meeting that regulations will go into effect in fall 2011 at the earliest.

Background: Why Is A Big Oil Lobbyist In Charge Of California’s Marine Protection Program?

During the same meeting, Fish and Game Commissioner Richard Rogers, an appointee of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, added to the confusion by proclaiming that anglers should currently abide by the MLPA regulations, even though the regulatory process hadn’t been completed!

… While fishing groups challenge the process

On the other hand, a coalition of recreational fishing groups engaged in a multi-tiered lawsuit against the MLPA Initiative say the new regulations “will not go into effect until later this year, if ever.”

A letter from the coalition to John McCamman, Director of the California Department of Fish and Game, on May 6, 2011 attempted to clarify the situation about when the reserves would actually go into effect – and requested the DFG to stop promulgating erroneous information to the public.

“The Partnership for Sustainable Oceans (PSO), which collectively represents nearly one million individual recreational anglers and boaters through its combined membership organizations, has noted considerable confusion among the general public as to when the South Coast Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) regulations will go into place,” the letter stated.

“We have heard from numerous anglers that are under the mistaken impression that the MLPAs have already gone into effect. We believe this misconception has been fueled in part by the lack of accurate information coming from the Department of Fish and Game, including on its website, and the 2011-2012 Ocean Sport Fishing regulations which erroneously proclaims that the MPAs will go into effect in the spring of 2011,” the letter continued.

-> Next Page: Doing it all wrong

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About the Author

Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento who focuses on California's water issues, a healthy environment for the salmon fishery of the Northwest, and the attempts by big agriculture and big oil to hog all the water.