We need the beach break

Hello, state Assembly member Toni Atkins and state senator Marty Block.

I am writing this letter to ask you to submit legislation to modify the Marine Life Preservation Act of 1999, as it concerns shore fishermen and surfboard fishermen (and, of course, women). Specifically, we would like the act to be changed to always allow shore fishing and surfboard fishing in these Marine Life areas. We believe that if you can catch a fish in a location in the ocean without using gasoline or electricity to get there, then you should be able to fish there.

As ethical surfboard fishermen, we have always been extremely careful to make sure any fish we keep is of legal size. In fact, we probably only bring back 10% (or less) of what we catch. What bothers me most is the heckling I get from people on the beach when I land my surfboard at Tourmaline Surfing Park.

Let me explain. The northern boundary of the South La Jolla State Marine Conservation Area is at Diamond Street in Pacific Beach. There is a sign posted there (and also at the Tourmaline Surfing Park parking lot) that says No Fishing.

Because most of Pacific Beach and Mission Beach is beach break, it is dangerous to launch or land a surfboard outside of the Marine Life area. When you have a fishing pole and gear, and hopefully some fish on your surfboard, it is very difficult to land if there is even a small swell. The only safe place to launch or land is at the rip (ocean current) right at the end of the Tourmaline parking lot. What the average person does not understand is the line demarking the south end of the Marine area at Diamond Street does not go out in a straight line. Most people assume the line is parallel to Crystal Pier. But it is not. It goes out at an angle towards P.B. Point. When I am fishing in a legal area outside of the Marine area, people think I am fishing in that area. When I come back to the beach I am often accosted by people accusing me of being an unethical fisherman. That hurts.

Sometimes it helps to go back to the very beginning to understand how far away we have gone from the original premises of our California Constitution. Article 1, section 25, states, “The people shall have the right to fish upon and from the public lands of the State and in the waters thereof….”

We understand there might be a few specific species of fish that should always be returned when caught, but not even allowing fishing in such large swaths of ocean seems inherently contradictory to our Article 1 Declaration of Rights. We do know that subsequent court rulings have said the legislator has the right to close areas for fishing. We are asking you to change those rules, via legislation, to allow the little fishermen back into the ocean.

I bought my condo in North Pacific Beach specifically because it was across the street from the ocean, and I am a surfboard fisherman. The condo cost about $100K more than what the same place would be on the other side of town. Now the state has taken away the primary reason for my living next to the ocean, without compensation.

Can you please fix this?


— Russell Goltz, a regular voter

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Thanks for doing your part to keep public access to our shore line.

It's sad to think that our laws cannot see a difference between a dude with a pole on his board, and a mile long commercial net. One is a sportsman, the other is vacuuming the sea empty of life.

I like your reminder that mother nature (the shoreline) and a line on a map don't always agree. The pier juts out from the shoreline, as it must. Some line drawn by a bureaucrat is less important. I hope our fellow citizens on the pier will lay off.

If we changed the signage to reflect the truth, that you can access the ocean from, and return through, the restricted areas to fish outside of those areas, then It might make it a little more clear to those who think they are in the right to 'harass' anglers utilizing the safe approach spots for human-powered vessels. I think, citing the abundance of and expansive growth in popularity of, SUPs and fishing kayaks, that they need stay out of the reserves. Bummer to lose such a good spot, but it will benefit the area around the reserve in the long run. There is still lots of good fishery to enjoy and the fight, though costly and lengthy to this point, has settled in a good balance for the angler and the environment. If opened to human-powered boards and 'yaks only, the new stealthy fleet of vessels would pick the reserves clean. With increased population and effect on the environment, we need to change with the science if we wish to leave this great fishery to our grandchildren.

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