AB3030 and the definition of ‘protection’

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Guest Editorial by Chris Arechaederra, CCA Assistant Director

Late last year, we were all witnesses to the amazing and successful efforts by the fishing community, along with our greater coalitions and partners in all recreational industries all came together to defeat and derail Assembly Bill 3030 (AB3030), which called for 30% of all land, water and ocean in California to be protected by 2030.

Then, Governor Newsom issued an executive order shortly after, designating that California was going to be the leader in the 30×30 efforts for the rest of the country, as well as for the rest of the world. There is some good news though… he recognized the fishing community, and the fact that our industry contributes billions to the economy and employs thousands between manufacturers, tackle stores, landings and boats. In other words, we have a seat at the table.

Just in the last week or so, the World Surfing League and the Surfrider Foundation introduced the “We Are One Ocean” petition, asking their followers to sign their petition to show their support for the 30×30 movement, which sparked quite a bit of a nerve with both our community and theirs. If you are on any kind of social media, chances are you probably saw it and saw others reposting the flawed petition, telling people not to sign it. Since that petition was released, AFTCO has stepped up, asking both the WSL and Surfrider to come to the table and allow us to help them modify the petition with more detail that provides clarity with no blanketed fishing closures and a lack of scientific evidence to support those closures.

What’s important is that there is common ground here. We are always in support in protecting our resources, habitat, and biodiversity. A healthy ecosystem and thriving biodiversity is absolutely crucial to the future of our oceans and our way of life in sportfishing and ability to do it. We want to find real solutions to the issues we’re facing with biodiversity, climate change and ocean acidification. If we continue with the “us vs. them” mentality, we’re not going to get anywhere. Starting with common ground with these groups is critical. Common ground could be the Tijuana Sewage Spill that continues to dump sewage right on the border. I think we can all agree to get in on that fight, and then go from there.

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The overlying issue here with the 30×30 movement is, “How will the word “protection” be defined?” Something can be protected or managed and still allow sportfishing, not just shut down or closed to fishing forever. Under Governor Newsom’s executive order, we have until Feb. 1, 2022 to build the framework of how we are going to achieve this 30×30 goal, and most importantly, how we are going to define the word “protection.”

This 30×30 effort isn’t going away — it will only come into more and more of the spotlight in our daily lives, especially in sportfishing. It’s a global effort, which many other states in the US are starting to face right now with their own versions of the AB3030 bill that are being considered right now. The eventual goal is 50×50, which groups want to protect 50% by 2050. If you think about it though, with all of our existing efforts that are in place, California is already the model for the rest of the world. If you simply consider all of the closures, protected areas, and conservation zones in our state, we are pretty close to that 30%, if not already beyond that goal.

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