Controversial California Bill Clears Hurdle in Senate

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A controversial California bill focused on conservation — which was opposed by the recreational marine industry — has passed the California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water, clearing a hurdle as it makes its way Senate Appropriations Committee.

AB 3030 passed 6-2 Aug. 12 with one senator abstaining.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association had sought amendments around language in the conservation measures the group deems vague. Weeks of negotiations between the bill’s author and a coalition of recreational boating and fishing groups, including the NMMA, did not result in amendments that would retain existing fishing access — absent a need to protect biodiversity — from specific harm.

Under AB 3030, the state would have a goal to protect 30 percent of California’s coastal waters and land by 2030 in order to enhance biodiversity and respond to climate change; “30x30” is an international effort that calls for protections in all countries.

About 30 percent of the state’s coastline is already protected, the NMMA said, with about 16 percent designated no-take zones for fishing and the remainder under other highly managed protections.

“NMMA strongly supports conservation initiatives, including the international ‘30x30’ effort,” said David Dickerson, NMMA’s vice president of state government relations. “We believe California’s 30x30 legislation would provide worthwhile aspirational goals if it is amended to ensure that protections allow for recreational angling except in specifically defined circumstances and include existing protections as part of the 30 percent of ocean waters that are protected.”

Two senators asserted during the committee hearing that the bill should be held over until the 2021 session to allow for the time needed to craft a strong, well-researched law that will enhance biodiversity under clear definitions and guidelines.

Some senators that supported AB3030 termed it “aspirational” and lacking specifics, according to NMMA.

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