The Laguna Beach City Council has caused quite a stir across Southern California with its recent 4-1 vote to ask the state Department of Fish and Game for a ban on all fishing, running the length of the city’s seven-mile coastline and extending three miles offshore. This ban would effect all recreational and commercial fishing activities within the area.
The lone dissenting vote came from Laguna Beach Mayor Kelly Boyd, who happens to be a recreational angler. Boyd told the members that the closure would be largely unenforceable – even if it were to be approved by the state – particularly at a time when California is billions in debt.
Among the more than 50 people who spoke at the council meeting were many recreational anglers. The council seemed unmoved by the lack of evidence or science indicating that recreational or commercial fishing is having any adverse effect on local fish populations, choosing instead the tact that a fishing ban has to be a good thing because, well, it just is. “Let the ocean lay fallow,” commented Councilmember Toni Iseman. “I’m asking for a time out.” Iseman authored the measure.
Many are concerned by the precedent this type of action sets, especially at a time when Southern California is immersed in the implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) and is right now evaluating different plans for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Anglers may like or dislike this process, but it is a process in which they can be involved and have a say. “Any suggestion of this type must be scientifically validated so that the stakeholders can receive that input and participate in designing a science-based solution,” said Steven Fukuto, president of United Anglers of Southern California. UASC is based in the Long Beach area, a nearby coastal community to the north of Laguna Hills, and is actively involved in the Southern California MLPA decision-making process.
Boyd has organized an email campaign designed to let council members know how Southern California anglers feel about the resolution to ban fishing. Emails can be sent to Mayor Boyd at [email protected]. Direct communications with council members can go to Jane Egly at [email protected], Toni Iseman at [email protected], Elizabeth Pearson at [email protected], and Verna Rollinger at [email protected].