GOLD BEACH Fishermen feeling the pressure of too much competition in the live fish fishery received support Monday from the Curry County Commissioners.

The commissioners approved a letter supporting the use of the Developmental Fisheries Board to design a limited entry program for the fishery.

Commissioner Lucie La Bont said live fish are popular in California restaurants, where diners select them out of tanks, like they do with crabs or lobsters.

California, however, licensed its live fish fishermen and limited their number. La Bont said California fishermen locked out of the fishery are now putting pressure on the open access fishery off the coast of Curry County.

She said 11 fishermen fished for live fish off Gold Beach last year. That number rose to 25 this year.

She said Oregon cant stop California boats from coming here and getting licenses, but it can limit the number of fishermen participating in the live fish fishery.

La Bont attended meetings with fishermen in Bandon and Port Orford and said they agreed unanimously that there needs to be a limit on the fishery.

She said there is concern too many fishermen might damage the Rogue River reef and diminish the size of the fish caught.

She said the fishermen also agreed the Developmental Fishery Board should take the lead on the issue.

La Bont said Brookings fisherman Linda Brown is a member of that board. She said Brookings fisherman Pete McHenry and Gold Beach fisherman Scott Boley have also been working on the issue.

La Bont said fishermen are divided, however, on whether licenses should be granted only to those who were participating in the fishery in November, 1999, or should also be given to those who have joined since.

The commissioners letter asked the Developmental Fisheries Board to work with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and fishermen to establish a fair cut-off date.

La Bont said she would feel more comfortable with a 2001 cut-off date, but that the fishermen would have to decide.

She said Boley went to the legislature and learned the limited entry program could be established through administrative rules.