California Fishermen Go To Court Over Island Closures

A coalition of commercial and recreational fishing groups have gone to court against the California Fish & Game Commission and the Department of Fish & Game (DFG) in an attempt to halt massive closures at the Channel Islands, which were slated to begin on the first of the year. The coalition, led by the Ventura County Commercial Fishermen's Association and attorney Ilson New, one of the state's most effective fisheries-regulation litigators, filed a petition of writ of mandate and a complaint for declaratory relief against the commission and the department with the Superior Court, County of Ventura, in December. Representing sport fishing interests in the lawsuit are United Anglers of Southern California (UASC), the Recreational Fishing Alliance/Southern California, and the Sportfishing Association of California (SAC). Bob Fletcher, president of SAC, said they were petitioning the court for "a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction and permanent injunction enjoining the respondent, the California Fish & Game Commission and the real party in interest, the Department of Fish & Game, from taking any action to enforce, set up, operate, maintain or proceed with setting up the Channel Islands Marine Protected Areas." Fletcher and others were also disturbed to learn that the department's assurances at the commission hearings that there would be adequate money available for enforcement and monitoring of the reserves had been refuted by California governor Gray Davis, who proposed significant budget cuts for the DFG.

Anglers can contribute to this legal effort by sending a check to the Sportfishing Association of California, 1084 Bangor St., San Diego, CA, 92106 with a note that the money is to be earmarked for the Channel Islands Marine Reserve legal fund.