Many Californians are not aware of a very serious and looming threat to recreational fishing. Fish farmers who stock California lakes and grocery stores are threatened by a legal case moving through the courts as well as the costly regulations being drafted by the California Department of Fish and Game.
As a result of a lawsuit several years ago against California's fish hatcheries, the department staff drafted an environmental impact report to include private aquaculture in its regulations, even though the lawsuit and ruling only applied to state facilities, and not privately held fish hatcheries and stocking ponds.
Given that California grows some of the healthiest and safest fish in the world under existing regulations, one can only assume that the state's actions were not motivated by a public need, but merely by a political agenda, one that anglers know has led to significant limitations on ocean fishing off the coast of California.
As a result of new regulations being drafted by Fish and Game, fish stocking could be a thing of the past once costly regulations are mandated for every fresh water hatchery, fish farm and stocking pond, imposing crippling regulatory costs annually on California businesses to perform all kinds of inspections and monitoring for various species, many of which are not even endangered or threatened. Such costs will lead to businesses closing and popular fishing ponds and lakes simply abandoned altogether.
And for the first time in more than 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 such as Corona Lake.
If private fish hatcheries become a thing of the past, who will stock California's many lakes and ponds? Simply put, when there are no fish, there will be no fishing. Without fresh water fishing, California's $224 billion outdoor industry will take a hit, and so will its tourism industry as fewer vacations are planned and fewer outdoor sporting goods are purchased.
This threat also impacts communities dependent on recreational tourism, namely sporting goods companies and retailers, boat sellers/manufacturers, marinas and bait and tackle shops. Moreover, the price of fish at your favorite restaurant or grocery store will go up as fish is imported from other states or countries.
Californians need to contact Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators and ask them to urge the Fish and Game Commission to abandon new regulations that threaten a lifestyle shared by some 1.7 million recreational fisherman and an industry that protects California's jobs.
Craig Elliot is president of the California Association for Recreational Fishing and the operator of Corona Lake.