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Recreational Fishermen Don't Threaten Reserves

September 06, 2002

Re "Conserve Now, Fish Later," editorial, Aug. 31: I agree that closing off areas to commercial fishermen will help the populations of both commercially important and noncommercially important fish (referred to as "bycatch") as well as protect the areas from potentially destructive commercial fishing practices, but closing these areas to recreational fishermen is misguided and counterproductive to ensuring that these areas stay protected.

Recreational fishermen target select species, use fishing procedures that do not catch large numbers of fish indiscriminately, practice catch and release, and aid fishery biologists by volunteering in tagging programs to track fish populations. To my knowledge, no species of ocean fish or ocean mammal is endangered because of recreational fishing pressure; unfortunately, the same cannot be said regarding commercial fishing practices.

Excluding recreational fishermen from these areas will eliminate a large group that favors the intent of the reserves and will prevent them from aiding in the enforcement of rules for these zones, as recreational fishermen will quickly report any commercial or private violation or damage in the reserves.

Applying the same rules to commercial and recreational fishermen for these reserves is equivalent to saying that hikers and commercial logging should be treated the same when it comes to their use of our national forests.

Kevin LaPierre

Coto de Caza

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