Subject: FRA Press Release -- CINMS Lawsuit.

For immediate release: December 9, 2002 Contact: Herb Moore Jr., Director of Government Affairs 609-294-3315

Recreational Fishing Alliance Joins Lawsuit To Stop Channel Islands Closure

The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) and its Southern California Chapter (RFA- SoCal) have joined a coalition of fishing organizations challenging the decision by the California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) to permanently close 175 square miles of coastal waters surrounding the Channel Islands to fishing.

The lawsuit, initiated by the Ventura County Commercial Fishermen's Association (VCCFA), charges that FGC's October 23rd decision to establish a large network of marine reserves around the Channel Islands will adversely affect thousands of individuals and businesses by closing these areas to recreational and commercial fishing.

Attorney Ilson W. New is challenging the FGC decision on several procedural and substantive grounds including non-compliance with the Marine Life Management Act, the Marine Life Protection Act as well as violations of the California Environmental Quality Act. The coalition is seeking injunctive relief to prevent the implementation of the Channel Islands closure on January 1, 2003. Without the court's intervention, California will be home to the largest complete closure to recreational and commercial fishing in the continental United States.

"The Channel Islands closure is a direct threat to the personal freedoms enjoyed by California residents," said Joel Greenberg, of RFA SoCal. "The impact on recreational fishing and the overall economic harm is almost unthinkable."

Recreational fishermen voiced strong opposition to a "blanket" closure around the Channel Islands throughout the development of this plan. "Commission meetings represent the only opportunity for the public at large to speak out on our fisheries," said Jim Martin of RFA's Northern California Chapter (RFA-NorCal). "Input from members of the public is backed up by packed halls of supporters, who overwhelmingly feel that their views are ignored."

"California has been placed on the front lines in our struggle to preserve our right to fish," said Greenberg.

The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) is a national, grassroots political action organization representing individual sport fishermen and the sport fishing industry. The RFA Mission is to safeguard the rights of saltwater anglers, protect marine, boat and tackle industry jobs and ensure the long-term sustainability of U.S. saltwater fisheries.