Enviros Push California to Buy Ocean Areas and Fishing Boats

Environmental groups, buoyed by their success in channeling government money to buy large swaths of California coast to protect it from development, have set their sights on the Pacific Ocean. They hope to secure funding to buy boats, fishing permits, and even plots of ocean floor off the California coast in an effort to mitigate the destructive effects on the ocean of overpopulation, pollution, and overfishing. What the groups — including the Natural Resources Defense Council and Oceans Conservancy — are after is money set aside by the state’s Proposition 50, a $3.44 billion bond measure passed in 2002 to protect California’s coastlines and wetlands. The groups hope to expand the measure’s bailiwick to include tracts of ocean off the coast. To succeed, their proposal to expand the bond measure’s scope would have to pass the Senate and Assembly by June and be approved by California voters in November. The measure is opposed by oil companies and commercial and recreational fishers. Ron Aliotti, owner of a 34-foot fishing boat, said angrily, “They want to keep it all pristine, just like God made it.”