This is a Call to Arms!
It is very important that we take action now to preempt what is about to occur. After this letter I'll post names and addresses to write
Prior to a couple of years ago, the legislature managed the nearshore fishery which made for a cozy relationship between it and the commercial lobby. Now that the MLMA has given this authority into the hands of an unelected, unpaid Commission, the lobbyists are experiencing a potential loss of power. But what does this mean? It means that to the extent they LOSE power, we, the people, can GAIN power (power to the people right?). The Commission's decision reflects the power this MLMA mandated process of constituent involvement has given us!
I have reason to believe that the commercial lobbyist who publicly belittled the Canearshore list at the Eureka meeting has plans to lobby the legislature in his pursuit of an "equitable" allocation of nearshore resources. I believe his plan is to subvert and negate the Commission's decision to adopt the DFG's interim measures. He has claimed the allocation is unfair and illegal and will probably press his case before lawmakers. I also believe he will do everything he can to marginalize our efforts and the process that has allowed us to be involved.
We all need to consider, the Commission has broken new ground. Even though it may not have been all we wanted, The Eureka decision was a very bold step in the right direction and is almost unprecedented. In addition the Canearshore list (and our own "nearshore" list) has been a vehicle for many who would otherwise have been in the dark, to learn about, and take part in this process.
I don't think we should underestimate this long time lobbyist's power to exert influence and possible change. I believe it is IMPERATIVE that we write our legislators to let them know how pleased we are with the process as it is. We need to let our legislators know what a great job the DFG and Commission are doing in reaching out to ALL constituencies, educating us and listening to our concerns.
It wouldn't hurt to express your displeasure with the fact that a commercial fishery has exploded into the nearshore, in the process, displacing the recreational public. Remind them that the nearshore is the only place you have to catch fish. Tell them you don't understand why the commercial sector should complain about being allocated 2.5 times their average cabezon harvest of the 1980s while the recreational's is cut in half.
The MLMA mandates EQUITABLE allocations, not EQUAL. This allows historical and socioeconomic factors to enter the picture. There are other examples of fisheries where commercial allocations are given preference. For example, last year's salmon harvest by the commercial sector was 3 times the recreational. Is THAT an equal allocation? And as the lobbyist petitions for an equal allocation, we should ask for equal funding to also come from the commercial industry. In 1998 1.2 million of the SFRA (recreational money) was spent on nearshore reeffish studies and management while the commercial contribution was paltry $1600.00. Is it fair for the commercial sector to demand an equal allocation while they are subsidized by the recreational sector? And while we're on the subject, you might mention how, in 1999, the DFG's nearshore fish team, noting the many gaps in knowledge of this fishery, estimated the first year cost to ADEQUATELY research and manage it would be 10 million dollars. This for a 3.6 million-dollar fishery!
Here are some addresses to write or numbers to call. Now is the time to speak well of the DFG and Commission. Pats on the back all around:
Assemblyman Fred Keeley