Thursday, February 28, 2008

Honor Private Property Rights – California Marine Sanctuaries

My parents with my brother and I moved to Point Arena in 1949. We would go with Pop “rock picking” abalone, and I remember how Pop had to work hard wading among the rocks to find legal-sized abalone. I also remember how good abalone picking was on the Pedretti and Stornetta ranches where we were often invited by the owners to pick abalone and to fish from the rocks.

The reason fishing was so good was so few people were allowed by the land owners to fish and pick abalone on their property. In essence, landowners like the Richardsons, Ratcliffs, Stornettas, Pedrettis, Leporis, and others, were operating their own marine sanctuaries. Their families and friends didn’t take enough fish and abalone to make a difference. They constantly repaired fences damaged by trespassers, patrolled their properties to chase away poachers, and were far more effective and less costly to taxpayers than an army of game wardens.

The difference a change from private to public access can make is obvious on the Stornetta property turned over to the Bureau of Land Management. Abalone were rapidly depleted, and the land trashed. What the Stornettas did without cost to taxpayers, the government can’t afford.

Now the public wants fishing restricted on private lands, and not on public. This makes no sense. The private owners take very little from the ocean resources, pay large property tax bills, and spend their own money to reduce damage caused by the public. Restricting them on their own property would deprive them of valuable property rights they have enjoyed, and paid taxes on, for a very long time.

It would make more sense to make marine sanctuaries primarily in areas now open to the public, because those are the areas that have suffered the most over the years.

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