California: Commission to Consider Anti-Sportfishing Measure

At their August 24-25 meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) will consider a proposal to drastically reduce the population of largemouth, smallmouth, and striped bass in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its tributaries.

The groups behind the petition have argued that as there is less water and habitat available to native fish, wildlife managers will have to find other ways to relieve and reduce stress on native fisheries that have faced decline in recent years. The proposal to “fish out” bass in the Delta and elsewhere is predicated on the hypothesis that these sportfish have a significant negative impact on salmon populations – an assertion that has not been substantiated by the scientific community.

Under the proposal, the size limit on largemouth and smallmouth bass would be reduced from 12 to 8 inches, and the bag limit would be increased from 5 to 10 fish per day. The daily limit for striped bass would be increased from two to six fish and the size limit would be decreased from 18 to 12 inches. If approved, this plan would, in effect, sanction the end of one of California’s most treasured outdoor sporting traditions.

This will be the second time in recent years that such a proposal has been considered by the Commission. In a 2008 vote, the Commission unanimously rejected a similar plan, arguing that degraded habitat, not sportfish, was to blame for the decline in native fisheries.

While the initial public comment period for the upcoming Commission meeting has been closed, comments submitted by 12 noon on August 19 will be marked late and made available to Commissioners at the meeting. Otherwise, 10 copies of written comments must be brought to the meeting. All materials provided to the Commission may be made available to the general public.

California’s 1.6 million anglers spend more than $2.3 billion each year, generating more than $334 million in state and local taxes. Through the American System of Conservation Funding, excise taxes on outdoor equipment funnels money to state natural resources agencies, including the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. This money, paired with the more than $60 million spent on fishing licenses in the state each year, is vital to conservation efforts across California and the United States. 

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