California’s Anglers and Boaters Score
Partial Victory in No-Fishing Process
Conservation Proposal Forwarded to California Fish and Game Commission
April 24, 2008, Alexandria, Va.—California’s anglers and boaters have scored a partial victory in the effort to maintain access to coastal marine areas. On Wednesday, the California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) voted to forward the proposal supported by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans* (PSO) – Proposal 2-XA - to the California Fish and Game Commission for its consideration. Proposal 2-XA is one of four alternatives sent to the Commission. Although each proposal establishes a series of marine protected areas (MPAs) along the North Central coast as required under the MLPA, the alternative supported by ASA and the PSO has the least economic impact by minimizing unnecessary closures to recreational fishing while placing a high priority on marine resources conservation.
“Although we’re pleased that the Task Force forwarded 2-XA to the Commission for their consideration, it is disappointing that 2-XA was not cited as the preferred alternative” said ASA Ocean Resource Policy Director Patty Doerr. “Proposal 2-XA is the alternative that has the least impact on California’s economy, particularly in coastal communities that rely on tourism and destination dollars, while at the same time protecting and enhancing our marine resources. It should have the Task Force’s full support.”
Using available economic and fishing data, a study recently released by the PSO demonstrates that the other proposals forwarded to the Commission could have a devastating effect on marine recreational fishing and boating and the North Central Coast economy. The study illustrates that the adoption of the other proposals would result in higher economic losses of up to a 30 percent in retail sales, jobs and state and local tax revenues, compared to 2-XA, by prohibiting fishing in 14 percent of the study area. The BRTF Composite, the task force’s preferred alternative, was not included in the economic study because it did not exist at the time.
“The BRTF developed its preferred alternative by combining aspects of the other three proposals in an attempt to create a compromise between all the parties,” said ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson. “But while the exact economic impact of the BRTF Composite is unknown, it will certainly be greater than that of Proposal 2-XA. The PSO supports 2-XA as a model for the future success of the MLPA process as a whole and encourages all California anglers and boaters to support Proposal 2-XA.”
California’s saltwater anglers spend nearly $1.3 billion per year on fishing equipment, transportation, lodging and other expenses associated with their sport. With a total annual economic impact of nearly $2.3 billion, California saltwater fishing supports over 1,880 jobs and generates over $70 million in wages and over $160 million in state tax revenues each year. Through the federal manufactures excise tax on fishing tackle and the federal tax on motorboat fuel, California receives millions of dollars each year for fisheries management and conservation. In 2008, the state will receive approximately $19.9 million. The state receives an additional $63 million for fisheries management and conservation through fishing license sales.
Robertson further said, “This is the most funding California has ever received from the taxes. Realistically, this amount will continue to grow provided anglers and boaters continue to purchase fishing equipment and boat fuel. In these uncertain economic times, California cannot afford to loose the support of its anglers and boaters.”
In 1999, California passed the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). This state legislation is designed to “sustain, conserve and protect” California’s marine resources through a series of MPA designations in its state waters, including no-fishing areas also called Marine Reserves. ASA has an active role in the MLPA implementation process, with the goal of protecting California’s ocean environment without unnecessary closures of California’s coastal waters to recreational fishing.