California Bill Would Bring Dungeness Interests to Table
A bill passed by the California Senate last week seeks collaboration between sport and commercial crab fishermen to solve problems in the state's Dungeness crab fishery.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa), would form a committee of commercial fishermen from eight ports, sport fishermen, environmental groups and tour boat operators. The group would meet for two years to develop recommendations to improve safety and sustainability.
"California has some of the most robust crab fisheries in the world," says Wiggins. "But looming pressures, such as declining salmon runs, are increasing competition for this valuable resource. This competition also results in unsafe conditions on the ocean and puts fishermen at risk."
But some commercial fishermen believe the arrangement would give other groups undue influence on fishery allocation and other issues, even though 17 of the 27 seats would belong to commercial fishermen.
"It's not sitting too well around here," Mike Cunningham of the Humboldt Fishermen's Marketing Association, told The Times-Standard.
The legislation was sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund and is supported by the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, California Fisheries and Seafood Institute and the Coastal Fishboat Owners Alliance.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has 30 days to sign or veto the bill.