Fishermen call for delay in rules until outcome of lawsuit is determined
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the California Association for Recreational Fishing (CARF) announced its opposition to new regulations being unveiled at the March 3rd California Fish and Game Commission hearing being held in Los Angeles.
For the first time in over 30 years, new regulations will require fishermen to purchase fishing licenses to catch privately stocked fish on private property as well as private fee for fishing lakes. In addition, these new regulations will impose crippling costs on an annual basis to perform genetic and disease testing on every single fish hatchery and pond in California. These unprecedented regulations could cost property owners thousands of dollars annually for even the smallest body of fresh water and even more for fish hatcheries.
"California businesses grow some of the healthiest fish in the world under existing regulations," said Craig Elliott, an owner of a catfish farm and several recreational fee for fishing lakes located in Southern California. "Jobs will be lost when costly regulations lead to fish hatcheries closing and fish ponds simply abandoned all together. Denying recreational fishermen access to their favorite fishing hole will harm California tourism and our economy."
At the hearing, CARF will ask the Commission to delay the rule making process pending the outcome of CARF's lawsuit against the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG). As a result of a 2006 lawsuit filed by environmentalists against the State of California's fish hatcheries, the State drafted an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) including private aquaculture in its regulations. CARF contends in the lawsuit filed in June of 2010 against the California DFG that the previous lawsuit and ruling only applied to state facilities, and not privately held fish hatcheries and stock ponds.
"Just because the State did not manage their hatcheries responsibly, thousands of California employers should not have to endure the consequences of crippling regulations that threaten jobs," said Ken Beer, owner and operator of The Fishery, Inc., a Galt fish farm. "Private hatcheries and stock pond owners have been responsible stewards of the environment. Our livelihood is dependent on delivering safe and healthy fish to market and to fishing lakes. It is premature to impose these costly regulations only to have a judge overturn them later."
In addition to a request to postpone the adoption of any new regulations, CARF will request that when released the public should have a minimum of 120 days to review any regulations, rather than 60 days which is customary for less impactful regulations. Sufficient time is required to measure the true impact these costly regulations will have on every private hatchery, stock pond, and homeowner association with lakes, golf courses and parks. With fewer fish provided by private hatcheries and stock ponds, recreational fishing will decline, threatening California's outdoor industry and communities dependent on recreational tourism, namely, sporting goods companies and retailers, boat sales/manufacturing, marinas, bait and tackle shops, restaurants and grocery stores. Moreover, the DFG has not been able to demonstrate how they intend to monitor and permit tens of thousands of bodies of fresh water with limited staff and resources.
A legal synopsis of CARF's lawsuit and additional information can be found at www.SaveCalFishing.org.
CARF is a non-profit, grass-roots organization of fresh water recreational fishermen and California employers dedicated to protecting a $2.4 billion industry in California that creates jobs and recreational opportunities for millions of Californians and tourists.
SOURCE California Association for Recreational Fishing