Assembly Bill 3030, which proposes to protect at least 30 percent of state and national waters, now heads to appropriations committee despite opposition by boating and angling interests.
Editor’s Note: The Senate Appropriations Committee announced AB 3030 would not move forward this year. This bill is off the docket, for now.
SACRAMENTO—A proposal to implement protections for at least 30 percent of California waters and 30 percent of the ocean off the state’s coast was approved by a committee in the State Senate, Aug. 12 – despite vocal oppositions by dozens of recreational boating and fishing interests.
Members if the State Senate’s Committee on Natural Resources and Water approved Assembly Bill 3030 (AB 3030) by a 6-2 vote, allowing the proposal to move forward to the upper house’s Appropriations Committee.
Several organizations have actively campaigned against AB 3030 during these past few months. The Coastal Conservation Association of California and Angler Chronicles regularly posted messages in opposition of AB 3030 on their respective Facebook pages. Both organizations were also part of a larger coalition of groups who wrote a letter to State Sen. Henry Stern in mid-July, asking the legislator from Southern California to vote against the bill.
Stern was one of the six members on the Committee for Natural Resources and Water to vote in favor of AB 3030.
The bill itself was introduced earlier this year by Assembly Member Ash Kalra, D-San Jose. AB 3030, colloquially known as the 30×30 bill, would specifically require California to protect at least 40 percent of the state’s land areas and waters, while also advancing 30 percent of the nation’s oceans.
Organizations such as BoatUS, Sportfishing Association of California, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Recreational Boating of California, Coastal Conservation Association of California and Angler Chronicles have consistently argued the bill, as currently proposed, is too restrictive of recreational fishing activities.
AB 3030 could cause fisheries to shut down, the coalition of angling and boating interests have argued. They also state California already has ocean conservations measures in place: the system of Marine Protected Areas. Allowing AB 3030 to pass and become law, the coalition of angling and boating interests are arguing, would make (what they believe is) an onerous system even more challenging for recreational boaters and fishers.
The coalition’s July 17 letter to Stern stated AB 3030 is “not a bill identifying specific threats to biodiversity or deficiencies in California’s robust environmental framework.”
A statement issued by the Coastal Conservation Association of California stated AB 3030 lacks clarity, particularly in use of the term “protection.”
“[AB 3030] uses the term ‘protection’ but does not specify what exactly that means,” the Coastal Conservation Association said in a published statement. “The bill also states that the current protections are inadequate but fails to specify why.”
Coastal Conservation Association staff added California already has 146 Marine Protected Areas in place and operating as fish habitat and national sanctuaries. These areas, according to Coastal Conservation Association and their allies, are “the most restrictive marine environmental policies in the world.”
AB 3030 would be even more restrictive, according to Coastal Conservation Association, by forcing fishing closures and taking space away from anglers and boaters.
“Fishing closures will reduce state revenues from fishing licenses and boating fees, and in turn reduce much needed funds for scientific study and fisheries enforcement,” according to Coastal Conservation Association’s published statement. “AB 3030 would severely restrict recreational activities at a time when more, not less, open space is necessary for the enjoyment of all Californians.”
The State Senate’s Committee on Natural Resources and Water conducted a legislative analysis of AB 3030 on Aug. 10 and acknowledged there is no uniform definition of “protection,” and use of the term in implementing various conservation-themed policies are conducted on a “sliding scale.”
“It is a complicated task to determine how much of the state’s land, water, and ocean resources are already protected, in part because there is no one uniform definition of “protection” in state law. These and similar terms can represent a sliding scale depending on the types of restrictions and allowable uses, including the degree of human access,” the Aug. 10 legislative analysis of AB 3030 stated.
“Providing an appropriate definition for ‘protection’ under a 30 x 30 goal is also a complicated task,” the legislative analysis continued, pointing out the varying definitions of “protection” implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Center for American Progress and the South Carolina legislature (in proposing a similar 30×30 bill).
Implementing the goals of AB 3030 isn’t a straightforward practice, either, the legislative analysis pointed out.
“In some ways, the bill appears to be aspirational in that it does not provide much direction on how to achieve the goals,” the Aug. 10 legislative analysis stated. “There are no responsible entities, planning requirements or processes, interim goals or targets, standards or metrics to measure progress, or defined opportunities for stakeholders or the public to influence the process. Little direction is given on how the state should prioritize areas for protection. The bill gives the administration broad authority to engage internationally with little guidance.
“[AB 3030] gives the administration sweeping authority to implement this bill according to its own process, timeline, and priorities with no transparency or accountability,” the legislative analysis continued.
Lack of clarity now could open the door to AB 3030 doing more harm than good, according to the legislative analysis, as the goals outlined in Kalra’s bill would have to be accomplished by 2030 – which is a little more than nine years away.
“Given the relatively short nine-year time frame to reach the goal, a decision to delay a more defined process could negatively impact the state’s capacity to achieve the goal,” the legislative analysis stated.
Kalra and other supporters of the bill, however, say time is of the essence and something needs to be on the books now.
“There is an opportunity for coordinated global action, with scientists calling upon countries to protect at least half of the planet’s natural areas by 2050 with a step goal of 30 percent by 2030. California already is a leader, with around 22% of its land area protected and a globally recognized network of MPAs covering roughly 16% of coastal state waters,” the legislative analysis stated, explaining the position of the bill’s sponsors. “With AB 3030, California can continue to lead, setting an example for the rest of the country and the world.”