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February 2002

Editorial - Hooks Banned For Fishing

By Kordell Banks

Recent legislation passed by the Department of Fish and Game has made fishing with hook and line a thing of the past. In the year 2002, the large net boats who fish for "shelf rockfish" or Red Snapper will enjoy a twelve month season, while a hook and line boat can fish two months with more limitations. The tuna fish industry offers consumers a choice of "dolphin safe" hook and line caught tune. But in California, for Red Snapper, it is net fish or nothing for the future.

Throughout history, there has been a battle between fishermen who use hooks to catch their fish and those who use nets. It is called "gear conflict," and in the old days, the disputes were settled out at sea without the assistance of law and order.

Today, the wars are fought at council meetings and the decisions are made over nice lunches at quiet restaurants. The fishermen are seldom present for these decision-making luncheons. Only State and Federal people will decide who will fish and who will not.

A fisherman's measure of success is not how much you can catch, it is now a matter of who gets the most allocations. It is very much like sharing a pie with some people you haven't met. The government cuts the pie and this year, if you are a hook and line fisherman, you should bring a very small fork and very little appetite.

Is a net really better than a hook when it comes down to protecting the environment or having a sustainable fishery? Common sense says no.

Is there new scientific information that justifies the elimination of the fleet of small hook and line fishermen in California's Red Snapper fishery? Possible, but not probable.

Our tax dollars paid the bill for these decisions. Another case of the big guy beating out the little guy. The result of this could mean that the only boats fishing in California's future will be big, factory-style net boats.

All the pretty little harbors up and down our coastline will have sail boats and yachts rather than the fishing vessels that give a port like San Francisco its flair.

Is the small commercial fisherman the wave of the future or a thing of the past?

To voice your opinion to the people who wrote the new regulations, call: L.B. Boydstun, Groundfish Coordinator, (916) 653-6281, email: <[email protected]>.

 

 

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