By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

A plan to ban or limit commercial fishing in proposed coastal zones is on a fast track toward approval.

This is too much information for most people to absorb in one sitting, said commercial fisherman Kenyon Hensel. Its 11 chapters and three-inches thick. Each chapter has many alternatives, which includes Fish and Games preferred alternatives, and alternatives can also be any combination of the lot.

The Nearshore Fishery Management Plan plan was mandated by state legislation and has been two years in the making by Fish and Game, Hensel said.

Statewide, it proposes areas where commercial fishing will be limited or banned. In Crescent Citys case, a zone that stretches along most of the coast will be off limits to commercial fishermen but not sport anglers. An area surrounding St. George Reef is proposed to a complete ban on fishing.

These areas were put together by people down south who may have a reason for them, said Del Norte County Supervisor Chuck Blackburn. But up here, you have to take into account how many months of the year you can fish. They keep talking about science instead of common sense. Unless you are a biologist with a degree, they wont listen.

The Marine Protection Act requires protected zones be established throughout the extent of Californias coastline.

Hensel agreed the zones are based on problems occurring further south that are spilling into northern waters.

Why bother to create these zones when theyve already reduced the catch so much? Hensel asked. Its very possible there are areas in the state that need to be dealt with like this, but this isnt one of them.

Hensel said he worries that most local people wont be able to read through the plan, digest it, and be able to give solid comments to the state by the Oct. 5 deadline.

How can we possibly comment on all the things in this plan in three minutes if they give us three minutes? Hensel asked. Of course you can always write to them a 7-page letter, but you cant expect them to sit down and read a 7-page letter.

Hensel said he hopes fishermen will read as much of the proposed plan as they can and attend the coming public meeting.

Its very important for people go to the meeting, even if they havent had time to form opinions about the proposal, Hensel said. People need to show support for Del Norte fishing rights.

The northern California public meeting will be from 7-10 p.m., Sept. 27, at the Eureka Marina, Wharfinger Building, Great Room, 1 Marina Way, Eureka.

Written comments should be mailed to the Fish and Game Commission, Draft Nearshore Fishery management Plan, 20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100, Monterey, Calif. 93940. Faxes can be sent to (831) 649-2917.