“Recreational fishing in California is under attack every day,” says Wayne Kotow, executive director of the Coastal Conservation Association – California.
In a year-end report to the Oceanside Senior Anglers on December 5th, he reported on the proposed Modern Fishing Act, which will hopefully separate future resource data into recreational anglers vs. commercial operations. “We get blamed for a lot of what the commercial guys have caused.”
“We’re not against commercial fishing, but we’re in favor of gear that doesn’t hurt the resource,” said Kotow. The association wants to get deep-set buoy gear (similar to long-line fishing) approved so that industry can use it and avoid by-catch and kill.
“We’re about truthful science. Facts!” said Kotow. “Not opinions presented as fact that get twisted into their storyline.” He was referring to the association’s fight on the local, state, and federal levels against the shutdown of recreational fishing. “When I go to meetings in Sacramento, there are 3 recreational fishing organizations represented, and 30 environmental groups.”
Kotow pointed out that this year, Japan, in the breeding grounds for bluefin tuna, has starting tagging in order track the bluefin populations. “If those tagged ones start showing up here, you know it’s only a matter of time until the environmentalists will try to shut us down,” said Kotow. This year, the Center for Biological Diversity tried, and failed, to have bluefin placed on the endangered species list. San Diego anglers continue to find an abundance of bluefin offshore.
“We need that data, but so far none have made it to the West Coast,” said Kotow.
For years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), the lead agency that collects data and suggests regulations on ocean fishing, has been concerned about the loss of the anchovy stock, estimated down to 22,000 tons. This year, the Coastal Conservation Association determined that the federal agency’s anchovy-stock assessment was flawed.
“Are you out of your minds?” Kotow said in confronting the agency. The data was collected in federal waters only three miles offshore. “We got spotter planes up and started talking to the bait boats. You know anchovies are everywhere.” The federal agency’s data now reassesses the stock to be around 151,000 tons.
What scares Kotow the most is who is going to be California’s next governor in 2018. “If you think Governor Brown is bad, Gavin Newsom will be worse. He hates hunting and fishing,” said Kotow.