The California legislature is considering a bill to protect at least 30% of the state’s lands and waters by 2030, which includes all terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments. The management directive in this legislation is misguided and will have a detrimental impact on hunters and anglers through diminished public access. AB 3030 is modeled after a global initiative to protect at least 30% of the planet by 2030, known as “30 by 30.” The bill’s sponsors claim that protecting 30% of California’s terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments will mitigate the rapid loss of natural areas and biodiversity in California. However, when asked what areas would be protected under the bill and what is meant by “protection,” the sportsmen’s community could not get a direct answer.
The sportsmen’s community as a whole remains very concerned about the broad and sweeping nature of the bill and its ambiguity. California has arguably the most stringent environmental protection laws already in place to conserve our natural resources and it is not clear if those areas will be included in the bill’s 30% goal, or if the bill intends to protect an additional 30%, which would threaten significant hunting and fishing access. Further restricting recreational hunting and angling opportunities could set the stage for another contentious fight, such as during the Marine Life Protection Act process, where vast areas of California’s coastline were closed indefinitely to recreational fishing in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) joined the sportsmen’s community to represent both the recreational fishing and hunting community, in a meeting with AB 3030’s author and the bill’s sponsors, to voice our concerns with the bill and to offer recommended amendments ahead of its hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Without assurances that the bill recognizes existing protections and supports hunting and fishing opportunities on protected areas where compatible, the sportsmen’s community had no choice but to oppose the bill, unless amended. An “oppose unless amended” letter was submitted by both the recreational angling and the hunting conservation community, including CSF.
In the Assembly Appropriations Committee, AB 3030 was placed on the suspense file but was pulled from the file the next day and passed with amendments out of the Committee on a party line vote (13-5). The amended version of the bill makes it clear that the intent of the bill is to increase MPAs, demonstrating the clear risk to loss of fishing opportunities. Fishing and take are not allowed in state managed MPAs in California. CSF will continue to oppose this bill until fishing and hunting opportunities are recognized as compatible conservation activities.