Saltwater anglers across California are about to be hit with some of the most extensive sportfishing closures in history, when new Marine Life Protection Act-authorized Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are scheduled to take effect next month. South Coast region MPAs are set to close more than 15 percent of the Southern California coastline to sportfishing — including some of the region’s most productive fishing spots.
“What’s next?” you may be asking yourself.
Well, what’s next is an attempt to regulate freshwater lakes on private property. And plans are in the works to impose these new regulations very quickly.
The California Fish and Game Commission has scheduled a public hearing on “fish stocking regulations” for 8:30 a.m. Dec. 15 at Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute, 2595 Ingraham St., in San Diego. At that hearing, the commission will discuss plans to require all owners of lakes and ponds that stock hatchery-raised fish to perform environmental impact surveys that are estimated to cost as much as $100,000 for each body of water.
The state of California has more than 24,000 ponds and an estimated 3,000 lakes and reservoirs — all of which would be subject to the new regulations, according to the sportfishing organization Keep America Fishing. Under the proposed regulations, private landowners who want to stock and manage ponds and lakes on their own property would have to bear the high cost of producing endless environmental studies.
These studies would be designed to prove that the introduction of hatchery-raised fish does not produce some unforeseen negative impact — on even the smallest private body of water. Never mind that the planting of hatchery-raised fish in both private and public lakes has been going on for more than 130 years, without any significant complaints.
“Businesses that offer fishing on private lakes will likely either be put out of business by the fees associated with these rigorous protocols, or will be forced to significantly increase the cost for visiting anglers,” according to a Dec. 5 statement from Keep America Fishing.
What can you do about it?
Plan to attend the upcoming Fish and Game Commission meeting, and make your voice heard. And if you can’t attend the meeting, visit thelog.com and click on the “Take Action” icon, to send a message voicing your opposition to onerous regulation of private fishing lakes and ponds.