1,300 percent increase on the table, but some politicians are fighting the raise

California Gov. Jerry Brown needs to fix a $20 million shortfall in the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife budget and wants to raise funds by increasing landing fees for the commercial fishing fleet.

According to a budget summary from the governor’s office, current landing fees support less than 25 percent of the department’s program costs, and the fees have not been adjusted in at least 20 years. The increases would raise fees by 1,300 percent for an additional $12.4 million annually.

But both of the state’s North Coast legislators, Sen. Mike McGuire and Rep. Jim Wood, have spoken publicly in opposition to the proposal.

“We have to protect and preserve California’s fisheries, and we’re deeply concerned about the future based off of threats from the federal government and the exorbitant fees being proposed by the governor’s office,” McGuire said in a statement.

Wood, who serves as the vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture and a member of the Assembly who represents nearly one-third of California’s coastline, pointed out in a statement that commercial fishermen on the West Coast have had a rough go of it in the past few years, noting the toxic algae blooms that halted crabbing last year and the decline of the salmon population.

“Exacerbating the financial hardships of an industry that has so recently suffered these crises in order to address the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s budget concerns is unconscionable,” Wood wrote in a letter to committee.

The proposal is attached to the budget and would need to be approved by the California Senate and Assembly in June.

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Samuel Hill is the former associate editor for National Fisherman. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine where he got his start in journalism at the campus’ newspaper, the Free Press. He has also written for the Bangor Daily News, the Outline, Motherboard and other publications about technology and culture.

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