Jul 29 2011

San Diego Union Tribune-Letter: Foraging for responsible bills

San Diego Union-Tribune

Letters to the Editor

July 29, 2011

If you didn’t know, you might think that forage fish like sardines and squid are on the brink of destruction in California. That’s what some activists and the Union-Tribune story on Assembly Bill 1299 imply (“Thinking small for a sea change,” July 18). However, these claims are incorrect.

California’s forage fisheries are among the best protected in the world, with one of the lowest harvest rates. Yet this state would squander millions of tax dollars – and thousands of jobs – to duplicate existing laws. Why?

To initiate new legislation like AB 1299 as if no current regulation exists is fiscally irresponsible and disrespectful of California’s management history.

Moreover, virtually all of these species range far beyond California state waters and wouldn’t be helped by this bill.

The anti-fishing activists pushing this legislation misrepresented the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s research. For example, they cited an incomplete ecosystem assessment to prove their overfishing hype, but failed to say it excluded Southern California waters, where 80 percent of California’s squid harvest occurs. AB 1299 is simply a disingenuous attempt to curtail sustainable fisheries.

 — Diane Pleschner-Steele, California Wetfish Producers Association

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