|CLOSURES MAY IMPACT SOUTH COAST FISHERMEN|
|June 20, 2002 11:00 pm|
By BILL LUNDQUIST
Fishing closures announced Thursday by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) will hurt some fishermen a lot more than others, according to a local expert.
News articles across the state and on the Internet said the PFMC approved measures to rebuild dwindling stocks of certain rockfish species.
The measures will ban California sport fishermen from fishing in water deeper than 120 feet.
They will also ban commercial trawling off the Oregon and Washington coasts in water from 600 to 1,500 feet deep.
Brookings sport fisherman Jim Welter, a member of the PFMC's Salmon Advisory Subcommittee, said he would have to read the actual paperwork from the San Francisco meeting before he could guess what the effects of the decisions would be.
"It's not as draconian as a lot of people think," he said.
Welter said the closures will affect specific groups of fishermen. He said the California closure of water deeper than 120 feet may not hurt sport fishermen because they catch rockfish in shallower water.
He said it would affect the California charter boat industry, which often fishes in water as deep as 300 feet.
The Northwest commercial ban, he said, would not hurt trawlers badly, but would put long-line trollers and "pot" fishermen out of business. He said it could also hurt shrimpers.
Welter said the big trawl boats could go farther out to water deeper than 1,500 feet and still catch plenty of fish in their nets.
The closed area, from 600 to 1,500 feet deep, he said, is exactly where the smaller commercial boats fish.
"It's almost as if the trawlers were putting the long-line fishermen out of business," he said.
He noted there were trawl fishermen on the PFMC and said, "They're taking fish from one group of fishermen and giving them to another. It will hurt a select few."
The PFMC approved the closures to protect bocaccio, and yelloweye, canary, and darkblotched rockfish, which federal scientists say are at critically low populations.
Welter said, however, the federal data is flawed, what little of it there is.
He said Brookings commercial fisherman Ralph Brown has been reappointed to the PFMC, and will travel to Washington from San Francisco to attend orientation.
Welter said Brown will speak at a public meeting in late July or early August about the PFMC decisions and their effects.