Contact: Aoibheann Cline, Western States Coordinator
On December 11, proposed updates to California’s Delta Fisheries Management Policy and Striped Bass Policy were once again before the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission). After hearing from the three expert scientists, one legislator representative, five industry representatives, including the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s Western States Coordinator, Aoibheann Cline, and forty-three public commenters from the sport-fishing community, the Commission voted to postpone the adoption of the Delta Fisheries Management Policy and potential amendments to the Stiped Bass Policy to a future meeting and directed Commission and Department staff to continue to work with stakeholders on additional policy amendments.
The proponents of updating of these Policies are interested in diverting water away from the fishery for municipal and agricultural uses outside of the Delta region. Thus, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has been heavily engaged in the process of updating of these Policies to ensure that habitat for sport fish (both native and non-native) is appropriately considered, and does not unjustifiably misdirect the blame for threatened and endangered species population declines to the Delta’s non-native and popular sport fisheries.
CSF submitted a comment letter when this issue was considered at the August Commission meeting, strongly opposing the Commission’s repeal of the Striped Bass Policy and encouraged California anglers to attend the public meeting and voice the sportsmen’s community’s collective opposition to the repeal of the Striped Bass Policy. The Commission unanimously elected to delay the vote on revisions to the Delta Fisheries and Striped Bass Policies until its meeting in December and directed Commission and Department staff to work with stakeholders on updating the policies.
CSF and other recreational fishing advocates urged the Commission to delay any further action on the policies until the December meeting, so that the critical fisheries management decisions could be made in Sacramento, where impacted members of the public would have a chance to speak before the Commission.
Between the August and December Commission meetings, CSF participated in stakeholder meetings with Commission and Department staff, the proponents of the update, and recreational fishing stakeholders to ensure that efforts to eliminate or reduce the striped bass and black bass populations, that would have an irreplaceable detrimental effect on recreational fishing and the economies of local communities surrounding the Delta, were not successful. CSF submitted additional comments throughout the process, committed to our efforts to protecting recreational fishing in the Delta.
Finally, CSF encouraged members of the public to attend the December Commission meeting to oppose the proposed changes to the policies because the latest version of the Striped Bass Policy would have a detrimental effect on recreational fishing. CSF organized a social media action alert aimed at California anglers, and CSF’s Western States Coordinator appeared on the CA Sportsmen’s Radio Show to talk about the Policies and encourage the public to attend the meeting. Efforts to encourage the fishing community to attend were successful and the Commission meeting room was standing room only.
CSF will continue to monitor the updates to the Delta Fisheries Management Policy and Striped Bass Policy and provide input at future stakeholder meetings leading up to the next Commission meeting in February.
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