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Response to Petition to ban fishing in parts of Monterey Bay

We are fortunate to call the Monterey Bay area our home, where the ocean’s health directly impacts our well-being. Recently, our club members became aware of petition 2023-33MPA, pushing for new no-fishing zones around Pleasure Point and off the coast of Natural Bridges State Beach. While protecting kelp forests is a commendable goal, the proposed fishing ban has raised concerns in our community about potential threats to our fishing rights.  Personally, I joined the club because I wanted to learn how to fly fish the surf and I know a lot of club members that enjoy fishing from the beach as well as fishing the kelp beds from a kayak.

The heart of the debate revolves around assessing how fishing activities may affect kelp ecosystems in Santa Cruz. Advocates for the petition, primarily environmental groups from Southern California, argue that implementing no-fishing zones is crucial to safeguard these fragile habitats. However, opponents of the petition, including members of our club, question the necessity and effectiveness of such broad fishing bans. We argue that the conditions in Santa Cruz’s kelp forests may differ significantly from those in other regions, such as Southern California, where fishing restrictions might be more warranted. This article in Santa Cruz Local and its links give a good explanation of the issue.

During our recent Club Board meeting, we discussed the issue and decided to take a stance of patience and proactive engagement. The California Commission of Fish and Wildlife is currently handling numerous petitions, including 2023-33MPA. In solidarity with those opposing the petition, I have sent letters on behalf of SCFF to key opponents, including Supervisor Cummings, UCSC Professor Zavaleta (a member of the California Fish and Wildlife Commission), and the All Waters Protection and Access Coalition. These letters express our readiness to collaborate and provide assistance in finding sustainable solutions that balance environmental protection with community interests.

Although there is no specific deadline for the commission to decide on the petitions, we are committed to remaining informed and actively participating in the ongoing dialogue. We encourage members with experience or insights into navigating such petitions to share their expertise with the club.