ASA president joins battle vs. MLPA

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ASA president joins battle vs. MLPA

November 29, 2001

By DAVE STREGE. The Orange County Register

Saltwater anglers in California spent an estimated $2.5 billion in 2000 pursuing the sport they love.

Think about the impact on them and the businesses they patronize if fishing areas along our coast were closed under the Marine Life Protection Act.

Sure, certain fish stocks are over-fished and in need of proper management.

But we need to understand how many fish are out there, how many fish anglers can take to sustain the fishery and how to take them in ways that won't damage the environment.

This is the message Mike Nussman, president of the American Sportfishing Association, based in Virginia, will deliver to the Fish and Game Commission at its meeting next Thursday and Friday in Long Beach.

Nussman is helping United Anglers of Southern California in the battle against massive fishing closures proposed under the MLPA.

Nussman will offer a national perspective on protected marine areas while urging the commission to consider the economic impact of such closures.

The science is not there to issue a "one size fits all" plan that closes huge areas to fishing, Nussman said.

"As we go forward to craft a solution to our fishery management woes, we need to keep mindful of the fact that if we choose a tool, it needs to be a tool that works, and that has as little impact on the public and on jobs as is necessary to get the job done," he said.

While Nussman's presence represents some heavy artillery, UASC isn't expecting as large a turnout of anglers at this meeting as in the past for one reason:

The commission will not receive comments on the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary issue as originally scheduled.

The Department of Fish and Game and the sanctuary have produced a range of plans from a no-plan option to closing 29 percent of the areas around the islands.

Commission executive director Bob Treanor said the postponement is because the regulatory language for each of the proposed plans and the environmental documents are not finished.

UASC president Tom Raftican , in an open letter to the commission, is requesting that when the commission is ready to move forward in the decision process, it does so at the April meeting in Long Beach so the impacted anglers can attend.

The commission meeting in February is in Sacramento and in March in San Diego.

Probably the hottest item on the agenda next week is how the commission will rule on the rockfish closures, which could range from four to eight months.

Also, the Nearshore Fisheries Management Plan will not be adopted at the meeting because the plan needs rewriting so anglers can better understand it.
 
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