Local sport fishing industry going belly up? - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Local sport fishing industry going belly up?

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Boat owners speak out about new rules that have left our local sport fishing industry floundering.

San Diego's most popular sport fishing charters are being threatened by new regulations. Some boat owners say they are frustrated that there's nothing they can do about it.

The problem is relatively new regulations put in place by Mexican officials.

Three quarter day fishing charters that used to fish near the Coronado Islands, about five miles south of the border, can no longer fish in Mexican waters without first getting a visa from Ensenada.

Congressional leaders sent a letter in October to urge Mexican officials to change their policy. That letter was signed by then congressman Bob Filner.

Fishermen point out that keeping boats out of Mexico doesn't just affect San Diego's economy but Mexico's too because passengers on those boats pay $15 per person for a Mexican fishing license.

"We paid our crew visa. Every crew member had a work visa, fishing permit and our passengers paid a daily fishing permit. All of the money went to Mexico, so it isn't like we were just down there taking from the system," says Harlan Berk, a former boat owner. "We were paying to be down there."

The problem is that the money goes to Mexico's federal government and the local government wants a cut. Charter operators say fine, tax us an extra $5 per person and everyone wins but so far Mexico says no deal.

"It's very frustrating, very frustrating. We pay our bills, we support our families, we feed our children with the money we make on these boats and to be told out of the blue that you cannot fish there anymore -- It was quite a setback," says boat owner Ryan Bostian.

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