Resurgence in Morro Bay
If we can turn our attention away from trying to figure out what NBA city LeBron James will deign to call his basketball home for a moment, there's some good news coming out of the storied fishing community of Morro Bay, Calif.
Good news has been in short supply there in recent years. A decline in Morro Bay's fishing industry began in the mid-1990s. And then in 2005 came the biggest blow: a federal restriction on trawling in some 3.8 million acres of water off California's Central Coast. Officials asserted trawling caused unacceptable levels of environmental damage.
But the Morro Bay fishermen didn't fold up their tents and go home. Instead, they switched to fish traps and hook and line gear to catch fish. Catch limits and other restrictions were also subsequently loosened.
The upshot is the Morro Bay fleet's landings have been steadily improving the last three years. The catch has risen from 910,000 pounds in 2007 to 3.5 million pounds in 2009, according to California Department of Fish and Game statistics. Blackcod harvests are driving the resurgence.
Mind you, that 3.5 million pounds is a far cry from the 15 million pounds Morro Bay notched in 1985. But it's not the '80s anymore; the fishing landscape has changed. And the Morro Bay fishermen — like fishermen elsewhere around the country — have recognized that they will benefit by changing with the times.
Thank you for your time.
Senior Editor, National Fisherman