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Budget cuts endanger recreational fishing

2/24/2009

SACRAMENTO, CA, February 24, 2009 — The Partnership for Sustainable Oceans (PSO) supports a recent editorial issued by top executives from three of California's sportfishing equipment manufacturers - Daiwa Corp., Shimano American Corporation and AFTCO Bluewater - challenging recent comments by Natural Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman. The piece questions how the state's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) can be successfully implemented in light of the state's budget crisis.

The editorial, entitled "Fishers Fear State Will Restrict LB Waters, Hurt Industry," addresses the impacts of the state's mounting fiscal crisis on the sportfishing industry. Published in the February 23 Long Beach Post online edition, the editorial is signed by Terry Pederson, Daiwa Corp.; Dave Pfeiffer, Shimano American Corporation; and Bill Shedd, AFTCO Bluewater.

"Saltwater recreational fishing contributes more than $2.2 billion annually to the state's economy, directly supporting more than 20,000 jobs which are often at the heart of many coastal communities," according to the editorial.

The recent budget cuts are causing concern for the recreational fishing and boating industries because state funds are crucial for scientific monitoring and enforcement safeguards in the newly created marine protected areas (MPAs) under the state's MLPA. "We need to be able to monitor the MPAs in order to determine their impact on the marine environment," said Patty Doerr, Ocean Policy Resource director for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), a member of the PSO. "Without the monitoring, there will be no scientific basis on which to make future regulatory changes. Without funding to monitor the MPAs' effectiveness, recreational angling and boating may be permanently prohibited in large swaths of California's coastal waters."

"The editorial provides a clear picture of the deep impacts that the budget cuts will have on the businesses and local communities that depend on a vibrant sportfishing industry," said ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson.

The PSO agrees with sportfishing industry leaders who depend on a healthy fishery resource and calls upon Governor Schwarzenegger to take action that assures the MLPA is implemented correctly and not in a manner that costs the state, as well as the sportfishing and boating communities, billions of dollars each year. Robertson further said, "We also call on the Fish and Game Commission to have an open and honest public discussion about the financial resources that are actually available for the MLPA implementation. This initiative needs to be correctly monitored and enforced right from the start."

The PSO, a group of recreational fishing and boating organizations, is committed to protecting the health of California's ocean environment without unnecessary closures of California coastal waters to recreational fishing. Members include the American Sportfishing Association, Berkley Conservation Institute, Coastside Fishing Club, International Game Fish Association, Kayak Fishing Association of California, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Nor-Cal Kayak Anglers, Shimano Sport Fisheries Initiative, Southern California Marine Association and the Sportfishing Association of California.