The San Clemente-based Surfrider Foundation came out strongly against underwater seismic testing off the Central California coast, an industry reaction to Japan's nuclear nightmare after a destructive earthquake.
But in a case of groups at times strongly at odds finding common ground (or water, actually), sportfishermen also oppose the tests to assess the susceptibility of the Diablo Canyon
Nuclear Generating Facility to seismic activity.
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Surfrider, which was founded by surfers who grew tired of getting sick after riding polluted waves, and various lobbying groups for sportfishers have been strongly at odds over the California Fish & Game Commission's network of 36 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Southern California. Surrider loves 'em, fishermen not so much.
But, to hear Surfrider spokesman Matt McClain tell it, his nonprofit environmental group has been on the same page as fishermen on a water or ocean-life issue more often than casual observers might realize.
“Over the years, we've been on the same side of the fence on a lot of things and worked together on some,” said McClain, Surfrider's marketing and communications director.
The two sides came together, he noted, to promote the recent of removal of Elwha Dam in Washington state, restoring the salmon run there, and to oppose plans for a wave-energy project elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest, over fears ocean intake will lead to massive fish kills.
The same fears prompted Surfrider and fishermen to oppose desalination projects along the California coast, according to McClain. They also joined together to fight restoration of Matilija Dam in Ventura, where a steelhead trout run is threatened by sediment.
Both now oppose Pacific Gas & Electric's seismic tests, which blast loud noise into the ocean from Cambria to the Santa Maria River so sound waves that penetrate several miles into the Earth's crust
and reverberate back to the surface can be researched. The problem, as Surfrider and the fishers know, is such tests kill marine life, from whales to porpoises to sea turtles.
Currently, a California Coastal Commission hearing on the tests has been postponed, at PG&E's request, to the regular November meeting in Santa Monica. Perhaps fishermen and Surfrider members will save seats for one another in the hearing room. After all, both opposed the extension of a private tollway into South Orange County and perceived threats to pristine Trestles beach and temporal San Mateo Creek, where steelhead have been spotted.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.