NEWPORT BEACH : 40 Attend Debate on Gill Net Fishing

About 40 people gathered Wednesday evening at a Newport Beach restaurant to hear a debate on a proposed 1990 ballot initiative to ban gill net fishing along the Southern California coast.

Speaking for Assemblywoman Doris Allen (R-Cypress), legislative assistant Tony Nelson told the group that the nets are “indiscriminate” and harm marine mammals along the most vulnerable parts of the coast. Allen has spearheaded the effort to restrict gill net fishing.

Nelson also quoted statistics about how the nets have depleted the supply of fish for sport fishermen, who are among the strongest supporters of the gill net ban.

Tony West, vice president of the Gill Netters Assn., spoke against the initiative, called the Marine Resources Protection Act.


West disputed the statistics on marine mammal impact. He also used samples of gill nets to explain that there are a variety of nets and that a ban would be “a broadax approach” to the problem.

The proposal calls for a ban on gill net fishing along a three-mile strip off the coast from Point Conception north of Santa Barbara to the Mexican border, starting in 1994. The initiative also includes a provision to compensate commercial fisherman who would no longer be able to use the nets and would require the state Department of Fish and Game to establish four new “ocean water” ecological reserves for marine research.

Wednesday night’s discussion was organized by Speak Up Newport, a nonprofit community group.