Striped Bass Eradication Bill Defeated
AB 2336 Gutted and Amended by Assembly Committee
By John Beuttler, CSPA Conservation Director
April 15, 2010 -- In a move designed to avoid complete failure, Assemblymember Fuller (Bakersfield) struck the entire contents of her bill during the hearing held by the State Assembly’s Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on April 13 that would have sent the estuary’s striped bass fishery on a path toward oblivion.
Fuller’s gutting of her bill is good news for the state’s sport fishing industry and anglers. This legislative attack on what was once one of the state’s premiere sport fishery was aggressively supported by two dozen water districts, corporate agricultural interests, and some valley politicians who have cloaked their attack on striped bass behind pseudo - biology and the facade of protecting endangered species.
That their effort did not succeed given the money and power behind these political forces is a testament to the latent power of recreational anglers when they stand their ground to protect their fisheries.
An estimate one hundred anglers attend the hearing in the state capitol. Many of them had to take a day off of work, and no one paid them to show up and make a stand to save the fishery. While the CSPA Conservation Director spoke in opposition to bill during the hearing along with Dr. Tina Swanson of the Bay Institute, the battle was won days prior to the hearing with hundreds letters sent to the Committee from the public and an additional forty five letters of opposition from some of the state’s sport fishing organizations.
Our success was due to grass roots action of anglers and sport fishing groups effort to form an alliance to oppose this extremely divisive legislation. All those who engaged in defending the striped bass fishery deserve credit for their volunteer efforts to protect this fishery. The striped bass population has declined to it lowest level in history as has many of the other fisheries in the estuary that they have co-existed with for 130 years.
The peer reviewed science that has studied predation in the Bay-Delta estuary makes it clear that striped bass do not impact the population levels of salmon or Delta smelt, but AB 2336 alleged that the fishery posed a serious risk to these species. The bill’s remedy was the elimination of fishing regulations that protect the fishery from excessive harvest. Had it passed, it would have ushered in area of resource management mandated to destroy “non-native” sport fisheries that compete with native fishes.
CSPA opposed some of the new amendments presented during the hearing with support from the Bay Institute. However, Committee Chairman Jared Huffman told the hearing audience that he had previously met with Assemblymember Fuller and advised her that he could not support her original bill. When she agreed to jettison the language in that bill, he agreed to support her amendments that would send the issues of estuary’s fishery declines to be reviewed by Delta Stewardship’s Council “Independent Science Board”. He noted that he would be happy to work with us to try and address our concerns.
We greatly appreciate the support of the Chairman to take a strong stand for good natural resource management and not bow to the political pressure generated by misguided political forces that place corporate profits above the welfare of the public and the viability of our fishery resources.