STUDY RESULTS SHOW STRONG SUPPORT FOR CALIFORNIA'S FISHING INDUSTRY
Complete ACSF Press Release (26KB) Complete Survey Report (356KB)
Responsive Management Factsheet (52KB)
MONTEREY, Calif. (April 11, 2007) - A recent study of 801 Californians, conducted by Responsive Management, a nationally recognized public opinion and attitude survey research firm, on behalf of the Alliance of Communities for Sustainable Fisheries (ACSF) showed overwhelming support for local, sustainably harvested seafood and family-run fishing operations. The telephone survey evaluated Californians' opinions on and attitudes toward commercial and recreational fishing in coastal areas of California, the ecological health of California's coastal fisheries and wildlife, and fisheries and wildlife management along the coast.
According to the results of the study, two-thirds of Californians (66%) disagree that fishing harms the ocean. There was much more support (by more than 2 to 1) for allowing fishing in all areas, with science-based limits on the total harvest (68% support this position) over fully protecting (i.e., prohibiting all harvesting in) some areas with the concomitant result that fishermen would concentrate their fishing in remaining open areas (24%). In simple terms, Californians support harvest limitations over complete harvest bans.
Respondents were asked to directly rate the importance of commercial fishing to California's economy, and why they think it is important: a large majority, 79% rated commercial fishing at the midpoint or higher; only 17% rated it less than the midpoint. Many items reflect that the public does not blame family fishing for concerns about the ocean/fish populations, 59% consider foreign factory or large corporations as the type of fishing that is harming the ocean, 66% do not feel that fishing is even harming the ocean, 25% rated their concern for continuing family fishing at the highest level possible and 55% disagree that family fishing is harming the ocean
Results illustrated that the public does not want to jeopardize the family fishing industry. Knowing that California fishing is more highly regulated than other countries, 82% would prefer to buy local and 63% would not be willing to buy imported seafood, if that meant putting California's family fishermen out of business. In response to the study's findings, Vern Goehring, manager of the California Fisheries Coalition of which the ACSF is a member stated, "It's difficult to understand why national conservation groups work in partnership with fishing in foreign countries, yet they seem not to care about marine protected areas and reserves in the U.S. that are driving small, local fishing businesses out of business."
When presented with the scenario where fish stocks are stable or already recovering, there was little support for a ban, as only 24% agree that commercial fishing should still be banned if scientific evidence shows that fish stocks are stable or already recovering (66% disagree). Slightly higher agreement (37%) was found when suggested that commercial fishing be banned while allowing recreational fishing, if scientific evidence shows that fish stocks are stable or already recovering (53% disagree). Kathy Fosmark, member of the Federal Pacific Fisheries Management Council and co-chairperson of the ACSF stated, "The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has reported, and science is telling us that there is no overfishing on the west coast of California. The seven fish stocks that had been declared overfished are in stock rebuilding plans that are already improving faster than predicted."
In regard to fisheries and tourism, the survey found that working waterfronts are important for tourism in coastal towns, as a large majority of Californians (71%) agreed that they seek out and enjoy visiting working waterfronts in communities that have them; only 7% disagreed. "Perhaps the most important message in these study results is for policymakers. Californians overwhelmingly value the sustainable use of resources over policies that stop humans from using areas of the ocean. This study finding is consistent with communities such as the City of Monterey, where the City Council supports the management of sustainable fisheries." said Steve Scheiblauer, City of Monterey Harbormaster and ACSF member.
Several questions indicated the public's preference for "balance" in protecting fish populations. Study results favored moderation over the extreme of fully using or totally banning. 87% of respondents indicated that sustainability to them meant a "balanced" use over no use at all. Frank Emerson, co-chairman of the ACSF stated, "It is clear that Californian's concept of protection is not putting fishing areas off limits, but allowing for a reasonable amount of harvest."
The ACSF is concerned that the Marine Life Protection Act initiative process has failed to consider the conservation benefits of existing fishing regulations and other factors detrimental to ocean health, including pollution. Study results show that 92% rated pollution in any form as a high or moderate threat to the ocean and 61% think wildlife viewers who interfere with wildlife are a threat.
According to Monterey fisherman and ACSF member Mike Ricketts, "This study shows that the State of California is out of step with the values of the majority of Californians when it comes to how the ocean will be protected, and in valuing the role of the family run commercial fishing businesses. The state officials are going to close 40% of the best fishing areas to fishing, yet Californians clearly want our ocean resources managed for sustainability, and not to exclude human use of large areas. Policymaker's actions will put many of these small fishing businesses out of business, and Californians will loose the ability to buy local, fresh fish."
FISHING COMMUNITIES FIGHT FOR POLITICAL TRANSPARENCY AND SCIENCE IN MARINE POLICY DEVELOPMENT
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (December 13, 2006) - The tides of public policy have shifted once again to focus on what has been reported to be the root cause of the declining health of the oceans, overfishing. However, the California Fisheries Coalition (CFC) has testified in countless instances how other factors, including global warming, pollution, and coastal development have a large impact on the health of the oceans. Despite continued assertions that overfishing is still taking place, the CFC has been working to demonstrate to the public and community leaders that overfishing is no longer taking place in California. The success of existing fishing regulations, good science, countless hours of public testimony and concerns regarding the influence of private funders and state politics on policy development have fallen on deaf ears.
Despite reports from respected agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and scientists and increasingly restrictive regulations, the CFC has found an unwillingness to recognize that overfishing is no longer taking place in California. The CFC has publicly testified in countless instances drawing attention to factors such as pollution and coastal development that have large impacts on the health of the oceans that are ignored while MPAs are created to conserve ocean species and habitats simply by stopping fishing. To ensure equity in the process, the CFC recommends the success of existing fishing regulations are recognized and other factors impacting ocean health be more fully addressed. They request the use of all valid and significant science, recognition of the conservation values gained from existing management, and incorporating measures to equitably allocate additional restrictions to all activities impacting the ocean.
The CFC frequently expressed major concerns with the Initiative's Blue Ribbon Task Force as it shelters the Fish and Game Commission from fully carrying out its legal duties. "The Task Force serves as a kind of 'surrogate' Commission with staff hired by a special interest rather then by the responsible public agencies," said Goehring. The CFC recommends equitably engaging all stakeholders to achieve support of MLPA recommendations, the Legislature appropriating all private funds to the Fish and Game Commission and the Department of Fish and Game with no controls set by the private funders, screening all advisors for conflicts of interest and using a science based modeling simulation approach so potential outcomes can be tested as part of the process.
The CFC requests that in light of the flaws found in the Central Coast MLPA Initiative process, the Administration rethink its plan to move forward and instead choose to implement a more balanced equitable set of MPAs throughout the state. "We cannot protect the entire ocean by simply piling more restrictions on the backs of fishermen," says Jim Martin, a CFC Trustee and West Coast Regional Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance.
The CFC supports the full implementation of a MLPA that is intended to protect all aspects of the marine environment, improve knowledge and understanding of marine ecosystems, and maintain representative and unique habitats in an undisturbed an unpolluted state.
MARINE PROTECTED AREAS TO BE CONSIDERED FOR CENTRAL NORTHERN CALIFORNIA WITHOUT PROCESS IMPROVEMENTS
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (December 22, 2006) - The California Resources Agency has announced that a new network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and a two year long effort to further implement the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative will be focused on Central Northern California, from Half Moon Bay north to Point Arena near Mendocino. According to Vern Goehring, California Fisheries Coalition Manager, "We hope that this will be a productive process. We are concerned though, in our experience along the Central Coast we have witnessed that the best available science was not used and private funders inappropriately influenced the process. The conservation benefits of existing fishing regulations are being ignored and other factors detrimental to ocean health, including pollution, fail to be considered." Throughout this process, the CFC has expressed a multitude of concerns to the Department of Fish and Game, as well as the Governor's office, regarding "lessons learned" from the Central Coast MLPA Initiative process.
During their meeting in Sacramento this Thursday, December 14, the California Fish and Game Commission will be receiving a report on socioeconomic impacts and hearing testimony on "lessons learned" during the Central Coast process for the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. The CFC continues to call for the best available science, as well as taking into consideration the ecosystem benefits of existing fishery regulations as recommended by the Honorable Clark Kelso in his legal analysis of the MLPA Initiative process.
In a letter sent to Phil Isenberg, Chairman of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force, the CFC explained their concerns or "lessons learned" about the process to develop a system of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on California's Central Coast. In the letter, the CFC pointed out that in rushing to make news and deliver a draft policy favorable for the November elections, the State did not sufficiently evaluate the best available science or socio-economic information available to them. In addition, the CFC stated that the MLPA Initiative process has been focused solely on fishing, not comprehensive resource management, a process that has been driven by private funding and influence, fueled by power politics, not science.
In the November 2006 edition of American Fisheries Society magazine, Dr. Ray Hilborn, University of Washington Fisheries Science professor and CFC peer reviewer, responded to the tidal wave of resentment toward the fishing industry. In the essay titled Faith-based Fisheries, Hilborn likened the recent federal court ruling against intelligent design to the MLPA Initiative process. Hilborn stated "The court's ruling is a triumph for the scientific method and a setback for those with a political agenda masquerading as science." He continued to explain, "critical peer review has been replaced by faith-based support for ideas and too many scientists have become advocates," concluding "an advocate knows the answer and looks for evidence to support it; a scientist asks nature how much support there is for competing hypotheses."
During the process of completing a draft environmental report on the MLPA Initiative, Harty Conflict Resolution and Mediation was commissioned to complete an independent socio-economic impact report. This report, which will be presented to the Commission on Thursday, lists multiple, possibly fatal impacts on small coastal communities and fishing operations and recommends that the Commission work more closely with coastal communities and fisherman to evaluate potential impacts and alternatives. Leaders of coastal communities, such as Morro Bay, have garnered national attention as the proposed system of MPAs would devastate small coastal towns dependent on fishing and tourism. In testimony to the Commission in August, Morro Bay Mayor Janice Peters cautioned the Commission against proceeding without properly evaluating impacts on coastal communities. She stated, "We will be able to measure the socio-economic effects of the no-fish zones more quickly than the environmental effects. But when those effects are negative, it will be too late to save our fishing industry, no matter how many fish there may be in the future, because the supporting infrastructure... boats, marine suppliers, fuel docks, ice machines, as well as the fishermen themselves...will be gone."
Chief among the CFC's concerns are the impacts of the private funds used to fuel the process from the selection of consultants, staff and Blue Ribbon Task Force members to the lack of legal accountability of the process. According to CFC manager Vern Goehring, "The Blue Ribbon Task Force was hand-picked with no public scrutiny, took no oath of office to commit to due diligence and has no responsibility to uphold the laws regarding which they made life and death decisions." Because task force members serve a limited function, Goehring adds, "They don't even have to live with the consequences of their decision." Instead, the CFC recommends actively engaging all stakeholders to achieve support of MLPA recommendations, funneling all private funds to the Department of Fish and Game with no controls set by the funders, screening all advisors for conflicts of interest and assigning an independent arbiter in state government (outside of staff) to the MLPA Initiative process.
The CFC is requesting that in light of the flaws found in the Central Coast MLPA Initiative process, the Fish and Game Commission acknowledge their "lessons learned" and choose to implement a more balanced set of MPAs. The CFC believes and supports the full implementation of a MLPA that is intended to protect all aspects of the marine environment, improve knowledge and understanding of marine ecosystems, and maintain representative and unique habitats in an undisturbed an unpolluted state.
CALIFORNIA FISH & GAME COMMISSION OPTS FOR POLITICAL SCIENCE OVER BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (August 16, 2006) - The California Fisheries Coalition (CFC), a group representing 26 commercial and recreational fishing organizations, seafood processors, kelp harvesters and coastal communities was greatly disappointed yesterday during the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) hearing in Monterey.
Late yesterday evening during the hearing on the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), the Commission selected a group of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) for CEQA analysis. The Commission's preferred alternative resulted from a combination of Fish and Game staff's recommended alternative, "Package P," and the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force alternative, "Package 3R."
Vern Goehring, CFC manager said, "The Commission is obviously rushing to provide the Governor with a claim of ocean protection, choosing to clearly put political science ahead of biological science. The CFC encouraged the Commission to move forward with a plan balanced soundly on environmental, sociological and economic benefits, not bad science and political rhetoric."
The CFC is concerned that the Fish and Game Commission has conducted no modeling and has used questionable and inadequate science to quantify the impacts or benefits of their preferred plan. The CFC's scientific review of the MLPA, conducted by three of the most highly respected and renowned marine scientists, concludes that larger marine reserves only provide larger "illusions of protection." The scientists agreed that, "The MLPA science advice recommended a collection of quantitative prescriptions about size and spacing of MPAs. It appears to us that those prescriptions were pulled out of the air, based on intuitive reasoning." The Commission has been presented with no scientific evidence or impact projections that have warranted taking away vital fishing grounds. They have received testimony from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) that overfishing is not taking place, fishing efforts are already down and fish stocks are up. NOAA found that new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are not needed to rebuild the several stocks of groundfish.
Tom Hafer, of the Morro Bay Fisherman's Organization said, "It's not fair trying to protect the ocean entirely on the backs of men, women, families and small businesses. We are being used as a scapegoat, a political pawn and cover up to divert attention from pollution and development."
According to David Crabbe, a Monterey-based squid fisherman and vice president of the California Wetfish Producers Association, "There is a tremendous amount of inequality taking place. MPAs (areas allowing limited and no fishing) are the only ways being evaluated to conserve the oceans. The 1999 Marine Life Protection Act seeks to integrate environmental AND fisheries management issues. The Commission seems to have ignored that comprehensive fishing regulations are already in place. CFC fishermen have shown their willingness to comply with existing regulations and support full implementation of the MLPA. There is no such thing as a fishing 'free-for-all' anywhere in California warranting such extreme regulations."
There is still hope for the fishermen as the Commission has included Package 1, "the fishermen's package," in the CEQA analysis. The CFC is confident that the analysis will result in Package 1 showing the least environmental, social and economic "unintended consequences" of all packages being considered. Goehring concluded, "It's important to note that following the CEQA process, the Commission can correct this misguided action."
FISHING INDUSTRY, COMMUNITIES, JOBS IN PERIL
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (August 3, 2006) - Yesterday the California Fish and Game Commission (CFGC) conducted a nearly 12-hour hearing on instituting a new system of marine protection areas (MPAs) along California's coast. Representatives from the research, conservation, business, legislative, recreation, and fishing communities testified on the impacts of establishing systems of state marine reserves, parks, and conservation areas in seven coastal regions.
During Wednesday's hearing, representatives from the California Fisheries Coalition (CFC) spoke to the commercial, recreational, and environmental benefits of their recommended system, known as Package 1 or the "fisherman's package." CFC members and supporters were present at the hearing in relatively equal numbers to those in favor of the most restrictive packages known as 2R and 3R. CFC advocates presented sound arguments based on the goals of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) and the science guidelines established by the MLPA Initiative's Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF). The BRTF has already certified that Package 1 meets all of the goals and science guidelines required the MLPA. In some regions, CFC members spoke in favor of the state Fish and Game Department staff's recommended alternatives known as Package P.
Enforceability, economic impact, and lack of true science data on the effectiveness of MPAs were among the arguments waged against the most extreme packages, known as 2R and 3R. Speaking on the issue of enforceable boundaries, Fish and Game Deputy Director Sonke Mastrup opined, "If you can't hold people accountable, you can't live by it." Fish and Game Commissioner Richard Rogers agreed. "We can't set up our anglers to fail," said Rogers. CFC commercial fishermen, represented by David Crabbe, a Monterey squid fisherman and vice president of the California Wetfish Producers Association, advocated flexibility in enforcing compliance with the proposed marine reserves and new regulations. Ultra-conservative regulations are putting small businesses under extreme pressure and stress. For instance, the fleets for recreational fishing boats (party boats) in Morro Bay have dropped from four boats to one and from 14 boats to five in Monterey.
Tom Hafer, a Morro Bay nearshore and spot prawn fisherman, was accompanied by his wife and young son. Hafer pleaded for the commission to consider his small business and his family livelihood. "If you close this area to fishing," he said, referring to a lightly fished but productive spot prawn area off the coast of Big Sur, "I might as well just sell my boat and move." His son, Benjamin Hafer, testified, "My dad is a commercial fisherman and I want to grow up to be a fisherman."
CFC members and supporters, present at the hearing in relatively equal numbers as those in favor of the most restrictive packages, also raised complaints about the MPLA Initiative process. Many individuals and groups were either excluded from the MLPA Initiative's public process, not invited to provide input on the placement of proposed MPAs, or seem to have had their concerns completely ignored by the commission. Ultra-conservative regulations are putting small businesses under extreme pressure and stress. The CFC continues to play an active role. "You can't keep people out of the process just because of their financial status," said David Edlund of the California Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), speaking on behalf of sustenance fishermen. Mike LaRocco, also of the RFA, requested support of Package 1, calling it the "working man's package."
The Fish and Game Commission's next public hearing on the MLPA Initiative is scheduled for Tuesday, August 15, in Monterey. For more information on the MLPA Initiative and the California Fisheries Coalition, visit the CFC website at www.cafisheriescoalition.org.
CALIFORNIA FISHERMEN WORK TOWARDS
BALANCED MARINE INITIATIVE
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (July 31, 2006) - This Wednesday, August 2, 2006, the California Fish and Game Commission (CFGC) will be conducting a public hearing in Sacramento to discuss the addition of a new network of marine protected areas (MPAs) to the state's Central Coast region via the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. The CFGC is reviewing six MPA proposal packages and is slated to make its final selection by November 2006.
At Wednesday's hearing, the California Fisheries Coalition (CFC) will be presenting a commissioned, scientific peer review report, which shows that restrictions in five of the six proposed packages will needlessly suffocate California's $5 billion commercial and recreational fishing industry. The presentation and hearing will take place at 10:00 a.m. in the First Floor Auditorium at California State Building 9, located at 744 P Street in Sacramento.
Major findings of the CFC report will be presented at the hearing by one of the three scientists that conducted and authored the study, Dr. Carl Walters, a fellow of the Pew Oceans Commission. Dr. Walters and his fellow scientists found that each of the packages before the CFGC will benefit California's marine species about equally. However, two proposals recommend closing 40 percent or more of the most productive fishing grounds, leaving Package 1 as the only proposal that integrates California's strong existing protections with systems to monitor effectiveness.
Package 1, known as the "fisherman's alternative," is the result of an unprecedented partnership between fishing industries and marine scientists. The system of MPAs presented in Package 1 take into consideration existing ocean policy, regulations, protections, and socio-economic impacts and their related costs.
The CFC's objective is to see a full and balanced implementation of the MLPA. Highly respected scientific peer reviewers found that the science guiding the MLPA implementation offers only the illusion of protection, in part because the assumptions and theories were never tested. In recommending acceptance of Package 1, the CFC is asking the CFGC and supporters of the other packages to give adequate consideration to "real costs" of imposing fisheries regulations.
The Sacramento-based CFC consists of 26 ocean-dependent recreational and commercial fishing associations, seafood processors, abalone growers, kelp harvesters, harbor officials, and coastal communities. Coalition membership encompasses more than 14,000 commercial fishermen, in excess of 4,000 fishing vessels, several million recreational anglers, more than 200 seafood companies, and coastal communities spanning the entire state. Approximately 172,000 people are employed by CFC partner businesses. The CFC asserts that if the CFGC elects to institute additional regulations, communities that rely on the fishing industry could be decimated, while offering no additional protections to marine life populations. The designation of new managed areas could restrict and, in some cases, eliminate many ocean-related activities including commercial and recreational fishing, threatening an estimated $5.5 billion impact on the state's economy.
REVIEW FINDS CALIFORNIA FISHERY REGULATIONS MEET GOALS OF MARINE LIFE PROTECTION ACT
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (June 13, 2006) - The release this week of a scientific review brings
positive news to Governor Schwarzenegger in his work to create a balanced
network of marine protected areas (MPAs) off California's coast.
The review comes as the state considers designating new managed areas that
could restrict many ocean-related activities.
A key finding of the review-commissioned by the California Fisheries Coalition
and released to the public today-is that existing marine fisheries regulations have
already accomplished much of the ecosystem protection mandated by the 1999
Marine Life Protection Act.
Any effort to protect California's coastal environment must therefore incorporate
the state's existing protections, instead of simply layering new regulations on top,
the review finds.
To fulfill the goals outlined by the MLPA, the state is working to implement a
network of MPAs along a stretch of the Central Coast later this year. The peer
review corrects certain assertions made by the Science Advisory Team (SAT), a
group of scientists advising the state as it narrows the list of MPA network
The list has been reduced to three, and the peer review finds that each package
will benefit California's marine species about equally. However, two proposals
recommend closing 40 percent or more of the most productive fishing grounds,
leaving Package 1 as the only proposal that integrates California's strong existing
Package 1 would therefore ease the impact of fishery closures on coastal communities, which draw much of their
economic lifeblood from commercial and recreational fishing. A successful MPA network must take full account
of socioeconomic factors, the scientific review observes. Marine conservation efforts around the world have
taught the lesson that MPAs implemented without broad community support invariably fail.
In his 2004 ocean protection plan, Governor Schwarzenegger supports California's ocean-dependent economies.
The state's fishing industry carries a long and storied history, and should be allowed to maintain its role in
satisfying the state's healthy appetite for fresh seafood.
Existing management is based on the best available science, and has triggered significant recoveries among
fisheries that were suffering the effects of overfishing several years ago-including the state's lingcod fishery,
which was declared rebuilt by the Pacific Fishery Management Council in November.
The review states that maintaining these regulations, in place for more than 50 years and strengthened in the past
decade, is crucial to any effort at protecting California's marine environment.
"It is clear that the impact of MPAs is minor relative to the fisheries management actions taken by the PFMC
(Pacific Fisheries Management Council) and State," the review concludes.
The review was conducted by three respected West Coast fisheries biologists: Ray Hilborn of the University of
Washington, Carl Walters of the University of British Columbia and Richard Parrish, who retired this year from
the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The process now moves to the Fish and Game Commission, which is slated to select one of the three proposals by