The California Fish and Game Commission today voted unanimously to temporarily give California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton Bonham the authority to surgically close recreational fishing in areas of California if angling activities in those areas pose a public health risk in the face of COVID-19.
This authority will only last until May 31st, 2020, just 46 days from now.
CDFW had asked the Commission to consider granting Director Bonham the power to enact emergency regulations to close recreational fishing in certain areas after receiving inquiries from multiple California counties on adopting immediate closures in their communities to help protect their residents from COVID-19.
“We appreciate your reiteration that you have no intention of a full closure which is why anglers have been expressing concern,” said Wayne Kotow, Executive Director of the Coastal Conservation Association-California (CCA-Cal). “We understand the need for public safety, so we do support short term surgical or target closures based upon medical recommendations to reduce close contact and overcrowding. But, we need to be able to get outside, as you have stated, and enjoy nature as long as we are responsible and follow all guidelines.”
Both members from CDFW and the Fish and Game Commission repeatedly stated that there is no intent to close all recreational fishing in California.
“What we are experiencing is the lack of public trust,” Kotow added. “We hope that we can use this event to start to build that trust back. We want to make sure this is only temporary and end dates don’t move and that restrictions don’t increase. We look forward to the Commission and CDFW helping the angling community to open fishing everywhere as soon as possible, especially our boat ramps, bays, and marinas.
“There is no better social distancing than being on the water, especially on the ocean,” Kotow continued. “We want you, to work with us, on solutions with our counties to lessen the current restrictions that seem extreme and hurt many of us that are responsible and understand and abide by the health guidelines. CCA California looks forward to working with you to accomplish this goal.”
For more information regarding future Fish and Game Commission meetings, please visit www.fgc.ca.gov.