I read with much interest your recent article (April 13) regarding the three sea lions found dead in Sunset Beach. Gill nets were blamed for these deaths.
Doris Allen’s Assembly Bill (gill net restrictions) does appear to provide additional protection to our wildlife resources. The problem is that commercial fisherman will suffer income losses. Allen’s bill proposes that California sportsfishermen should pay an extra $3 for a “Marine Resources Protection Stamp” in addition to the regular fishing license fees. The funds raised from this stamp would be given to the commercial fisherman in order to develop alternatives to gill net fishing.
Although I support wildlife conservation and protection, I object to being singled out to pay for the effects of this bill on the commercial fishing industry. When the government provides aid to grain farmers they do not ask people who bake their own bread to subsidize the program. Our natural resources are available for all to enjoy, we should all take the responsibility for their protection.
The benefactors of the commercial fishing industry are themselves and the public in general. If money must be provided to develop alternatives to gill netting, tax funds should be used. I suspect, however, that Allen knows it will be much easier to pass her bill than to raise taxes. She would rather upset a few fisherman than all of California.
I currently pay fishing license fees of $20.25 a year, I consider that a small amount relative to the enjoyment I get from fishing. An additional $3 will not bankrupt me, but there are probably some people who cannot even afford the current fees. By stopping the damage done by gill netting the bill will probably enhance sportfishing, but I cannot accept that sportfishing will have to pay for a commercial interest to find new ways to operate their business. Allen should seriously consider changing her proposal. Sportfishing involves more people than commercial fishing; most should be expected to react negatively to the proposed bill.