Commercial Shallow Water Fishing Near San Simeon

The following photographs show a commercial live-fish operation working a small cove in the San Simeon area of Central California. The photos validate the outrage voiced by recreational anglers and divers over the depletion of California’s nearshore reef fish by the new commercial live fishery. The photos are stark evidence of the severe impact this "low tech, low cost" small-scale commercial activity is having on our coastal reef ecosystems.

In the photos the commercial fisher is using a kayak to deploy and tend his gear. The middle picture shows a single line being set (thrown) with three baited hooks visible. The third picture shows 17 or 18 floats distributed throughout the small rocky cove. 18 lines with 3 hooks per line = 54 hooks being fished. This is well below the 150 hook maximum allowed by state law, but more than enough to saturate the cove with baited hooks. For purposes of comparison consider that the 54 hooks deployed by this single commercial kayak are the equivalent of 13 recreational skiffs (each occupied by 2 anglers) or 27 sport kayaks occupied by a single angler using one pole. If this level of sport fish intensity were occurring, crowding the cove with sport vessels, there would be no doubt in people’s minds that the fishery resource was in jeopardy. With these comparison one begins to understand the impact this single, small-scale commercial operation is having. Consider that there are currently over 900 commercial nearshore permittees operating in California this year. That total does not include non-permitted crew members.

This commercial fishery operates on weekdays leaving the Saturday morning angler to wonder why the fish aren’t biting. Should we let him in on our little secret… the fish aren’t there anymore. Meanwhile the Dept. of Fish and Game wonders why sport fishing license sales are falling!

Commercial Fishing in a Shallow Cove
Near San Simeon, California

Tending Lines
(three hooks per line)

Cove Saturated With Commercial Set Lines
(Click To View An Enlarged Image with Each Line Identified)

Back To: Plight of California's Reef Fish