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Gill Net Ban Defended

January 05, 1994

In reading the Dec. 26 article titled "Local Gill Netters Hope Court Will Rescue Industry," it appears that your reporter is extremely gullible, in addition to having an abysmal lack of knowledge about oceanography and fishing. He states that "although gill netting will be permitted outside the three-mile limit, most of the boats are too small to safely operate that far from shore during harsh weather."

Has he ever seen a gill-netting boat? Most of these are no smaller than 40 feet in length and capable of handling most seas found in our offshore waters. In addition, the waters within the three-mile limit are traditionally more turbulent because of a phenomenon called "wave reflection." This occurs where the swells are reflected off the beach and cross the incoming swells. Does he realize that the gill netters set their nets and then go home to sleep while the storms are raging? They don't have to go out in "harsh weather," and the Ventura coast is not the North Sea.

Gill netters are unhappy because they are about to be barred from the inshore spawning grounds and fish nurseries. For decades, they have depleted the spawning stock of bass, white sea bass, barracuda and halibut that swim into the shallows to mate and lay their eggs.

Your reporter is correct in one observation: Gill nets are "walls of death" in which any species caught is killed. Some of these nets are more than five miles long and extend from the surface of the ocean to the bottom. The gill netters have refused conservationist alternatives as "too expensive" and continue to catch and kill undersized and otherwise illegal fish. They do not realize that the fish will disappear if you indiscriminately kill the spawning stock.

Yes, gill netters are entitled to earn a living, but not in the spawning grounds. They are not being put out of business but are just going to have to stop "shooting fish in a barrel" within shooting range of the beach. Let's face it, three miles out is not even one-eighth of the way to Anacapa and Santa Cruz islands, where most commercial fishing boats go, but it is out of the spawning grounds where they can set their death nets and catch everything indiscriminately.

MARVIN KAPELUS

Westlake Village

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