Follow the Science

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Mr. Reckas’s article “Scientists, Anglers’ Views Cloud the Route Towards a Marine Reserve,” Dec. 25 edition,  took a lot of space to say our fisheries are depleted.  After reading the story, I got out my calculator and found out only 25 percent of our white sea bass population is left despite the picture of Bill Shedd catching a 51-pounder. 

The article is contradictory by purporting that Mr. Shedd is the new marine protection spokesman, owner of American Fishing and Tackle Company, one of the largest such companies in North America.  Surely he is hardly an impartial source for assessing the healthy condition of our fisheries?   Mr. Shedd’s enthusiasm for catching the big, beautiful 51-pound sea bass pictured in the article ignores the fact that he has killed an important part of the ocean’s breeding stock. He even acknowledges the larger the fish the larger the larvae produced. Is this being a good steward of our ocean?

“Responsible” spear fishing is a goal, but as our Councilperson Elizabeth Pearson points out irresponsible behavior goes on. To the south of Shaw’s Cove is 1000 Steps Beach where dozens of small dead fish can be seen floating off the bottom that have been spear fished for the chase of it and then released to die by irresponsible spear fishermen.  This kind of abuse leads to the depletion of our calico and sand bass and is currently a species of concern by scientists.

By focusing on two individuals, Mr, Menne and Mr. Shedd, the article misses the point.  We aren’t dealing with the impact of only one or two fishermen.  Every day there are thousands of Bryan Mennes and Bill Shedds impacting our coastal fisheries. This is not the 1950s! Then the (county’s) human population was 200,000 but now it has multiplied to more than 2.8 million in 2000, hardly a valid comparison.

But, the most important point in the article was saved for last.  70 percent of the world’s fisheries are either in decline or vulnerable and Mr. Shedd admits that he cannot claim that even a healthy white sea bass fishery exists.


Yes, Mr. Reckas, this is not a simple matter, so why not make it simpler by being on the side of our coastal fisheries and protect them for a while by following the science?  Your article causes me to believe a marine reserve for Laguna is what makes the most sense.

Christine Hynes, Laguna Beach

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