Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

A veto pen stabbing the lobster fishery

Assemblywoman Lori Saldana had proposed AB571 to establish a Lobster Management Enhancement Supplement fee - 300 bones - that commercial lobster fishermen and women would be required to pay for lobster management activities. It would have lasted only until 2015.

Governor Schwarzenegger veteoed the bill, saying: "In addition to increasing by almost 90 percent the cost of a commercial lobster permit, thereby potentially driving some permitees out of the fishery, the bill would also impose new mandates and obligations upon the Department that still would not be adequately funded."

Except, it seems the industry supports it. It's not a big fishery: 140 people. Going after these guys:

Here's a signed letter to the editor on the topic, from July, from the San Diego U-T:

Contrary to the implications of your editorial [opposing the legislation], Assembly Bill 571, by Assembly member Lori Saldaña, is a bill that is aimed at sustaining a viable lobster-fishing industry and the jobs and economic benefits associated with it.

Because there are 140 lobster fishermen in California contributing millions of dollars to the state’s economy, this legislation will have considerable economic impact locally. A healthy and sustainable lobster fishing industry helps generate money and jobs for regional wholesale, retail, food service and fishing support and supply industries.

As president and members of the California Lobster and Trap Fishermen’s Association, or CLTFA, we feel that is why our industry sponsored and supports AB 571, and that is why we feel its support by the Legislature in these tough economic times is something that should be commended rather than condemned.

San Diego

Santa Barbara

The Environmental Defense Fund supported the bill as well. The legislations tated as its goal the creation of a sustainable lobster fishery and pursuing Marine Stewardship Council certification for it.

That's a challenging goal. And since California doesn't have the money it seems the fishery got together with environmentalists or conservationists or whatever you want to call EDF to try to kick-start things.

It's a strategy that's worked in other places where the stakes were multimillion dollar revenues even higher than this fishery yields.

I don't know whether the governor was right to veto this bill. But his veto message doesn't seem to address the issues this fishery is concerned about. National and international efforts increasingly concentrate around cooperative local management for sustainability. Is California doing enough to promote this in its nearshore waters?

(A California Spiny Lobster. Photo above courtesy Magnus Kjærgaard via Wikimedia Commons.)