Coastal Post Online

August 2001

No More Bolinas Fish

"Marine Protection Areas" At a Very High Price

By Josh Churchman

There is little room for debate when it comes to protecting the environment from ourselves. The only questions are: how much protection is required and what are we trying to save?

The town of Bolinas is as close to a self sustaining community as can be found in Marin. If the current plan for Marine Protection Areas goes through as planned, Bolinas will lose most of its fishermen and the fish they provide, forever.

Commercial fishing around Bolinas is not done with huge vessels using miles of net. It is a "fleet" of ten or so boats who all use fishing rods and barbless hooks. Hardly a threat to any fish populations. In fact, the three hundred plus seals in the Bolinas Lagoon eat more fish than the "fleet" ever catches on any given day.

Ed Uber, one of the scientists on the panel for the Marine Protection Areas, said the proposed sites for protection are "fish nurseries." However, the fact is that the Bolinas Lagoon itself is the nursery, not the outside coastline.

The irony lies in the idea that the same agencies that support Marine Protection Areas are the same ones that are dragging their feet and preventing the restoration of the dying Bolinas Lagoon. To let the true nursery die and protect the adjacent area instead may be a form of management, but it makes little sense to me.

There are no public meetings planned for Marin County and yet the "Plan" calls for the closing of nearly five miles of Marin's coast. The proposed line goes down the middle of the Bolinas Channel, so a person standing on the right side can not fish while on the wrong side you can. There has always been a rivalry between Stinson Beach and Bolinas, but this is downright absurd.

Mr. Uber also said that people tend to not like "change." We now have Fish & Game Wardens, Open Space Rangers, Park Rangers, and County Sheriffs all watching over this area. Now we will have another federal enforcement division writing federal citations to people for catching a fish in their local area. Is that the kind of change we want in Marin?

The kind of change we need is toward less bureaucracy, not more.



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