An Opinion On AB3030 With State Senate Set To Meet

After a postponement last week, California’s Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee will ponder state bill AB3030, which has been mostly condemned by sportsmen and -women groups as a threat to the state’s fishing and hunting areas.

Here’s some commentary on the bill from Doug Lasko, Okuma Fishing’s president.

AB3030 Threatens Recreational Fishing Access and Critical Conservation Funding from Anglers
By Doug Lasko

On August 12, the California Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee will hear Assemblymember Ash Kalra’s AB3030, which aims to protect 30 percent of the state’s lands and waters by 2030. Senator Bob Hertzberg should oppose AB3030 in its current form.

For starters, AB3030 ignores that more than 30 percent of California’s coastal waters are already protected through a web of management approaches such as Marine Protected Areas (145 of them!), National Marine Sanctuaries, and other protections. Further, the bill lacks a specific definition for “protection” leaving California’s anglers fearing more fishing closures will be implemented if this bill becomes law.

While proponents of AB3030 publicly claim the bill will increase recreational access for all, they continue to block amendments that would safeguard sustainable recreational fishing access for all. As America’s original conservationists, anglers support protecting biodiversity. We don’t just talk the talk. We walk the walk. Recreational anglers foot the bill for conservation and management of our natural resources through license fees, excise taxes on fishing equipment, donations to conservation organizations, and practicing good environmental stewardship when on the water.

California’s more than 1.6 million certified licensed recreational anglers provided $63.07 million in funding for state management of our natural resources last year, which put the state number one in national rankings. The state also received an additional $17.6 million in federal aid in 2019 for state conservation and recreational access projects from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. These funds are generated from excise taxes on fishing equipment and boat fuel, but they are used to help conserve fish and aquatic habitat, provide clean water and maintain access for the public at large, not just anglers.

With these funds, California has built and maintained 1,498 fishing and boating access sites; giving public access to 1,100 miles of coastline, 4,955 lakes and reservoirs, 103 major streams and 74 major rivers. The state cannot afford to lose funding from recreational anglers. AB3030 needs to clearly secure existing recreational fishing access.

I strongly urge Senator Hertzberg to oppose AB3030, unless amended to safeguard recreational fishing access and in turn the conservation funding that comes with it.

Doug Lasko is president of Okuma Fishing USA based in Ontario, Calif.