REMEMBER the Wizard of Oz? Remember how the Wizard hid behind a curtain
and then created illusion, smoke and bellowing speeches to fool Dorothy
and Co. into meek obedience?
Sports anglers may soon be cast adrift
By Tom Stienstra
San Francisco Examiner
October 22, 2000
Well, just like the Wizard, a few government spin doctors are
doing the same thing right now to the people of California.
When you clear away the smoke, this is what is going on: The
biggest fishing shutdown in history along the California coast is about
to be rammed down your throat in order to cover up 25 years of failure to
restrict commercial netters and long-liners.
The government is proposing to close sportfishing for
rockfish for four to six months a year along the central and northern
California coast, and to reduce the limit to as low as three rockfish per
person (and no higher than nine) and one lingcod.
For 25 years now, fishermen, wildlife lovers and hard-core
enviros alike have protested how commercial fishermen have tried to clean
out the ocean. The commercial boats often drag nets that are like vacuum
cleaners, hang gillnets that are miles long, and set miles-long lines
with thousands of hooks. In the process, they have killed marine birds,
sea otters, marine mammals, juvenile fish, and non-target fish species in
their mission to kill every rockfish they can get their mitts on.
Each year, commercial fishermen take 85 to 90 percent of the
catch, leaving sport anglers for the rest. Though fast-growing rockfish
are flourishing, others that are slow-growing, such as canary rockfish,
cow cod, and bocaccio, are being fished out by the netters and
This is what is logical: Since the commercial boats do 90
percent of the damage, they should be shut down 90 percent of the time.
And if sport anglers are responsible for 10 percent of the catch, they
could stand being reduced 10 percent of the time. From last year's sport
limit of 15 and year-round season, that would mean a 13-fish limit and
And doesn't it make sense that the first people who should be
pulled off the water are the netters, who have the ability to kill
everything in their path? That's not how the Wizard sees it.
Under the proposal, while the sport anglers get shut down,
the drag netters would be allowed to continue to try to clean out our
coast. The Wizard argues that new commercial quotas will reduce the
harvest by 50 percent, and that severe sportfishing cutbacks are
necessary in order to "share the pain," the mantra of the Pacific
Fisheries Management Council.
Share the pain? Your worst enemy has caused a train wreck,
and yet you -- the healthy one -- are scheduled to have your legs
amputated. And remember the line from the Wizard of Oz: "Pay no attention
to that man behind the curtain."
You have one chance to defeat this. At the end of this month,
Oct..31 to Nov..3, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council will hold a
hearing in Vancouver, Wash., then review data and options, and make their
decision -- a landmark moment.
To make the deadline for public comment, write by Tuesday to:
PFMC, 2130 SW Fifth Avenue, Suite 224, Portland, Oregon 97201, fax them
at (503) 326-6831, or access their Web site at www.pcouncil.org, where an
e-mail link is available at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can copy me at