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Shouting, shoving at meeting on Southern California fishing restrictions

November 10, 2009 | 12:39 pm

Tempers flared this morning as a state blue-ribbon panel inched its way toward a final vote on landmark fishing restrictions for the 250-mile-long Southern California coastline designed to create a network of protected havens needed to replenish the surrounding seas.

The five-member panel, which convened at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at Los Angeles International Airport, was discussing which areas should be closed to fishing when kayak fishing enthusiast Charles Volkens, 44, stood up and angrily shouted at the five members of the panel.

"You have not listened to us throughout this whole process!" Volkens said.

When a panelist asked him to quiet down, Volkens screamed, "Come outside and tell me to shut up!"

At that point, a man believed to be among dozens of environmentalists in the audience charged at Volkens and pushed him. That man was ushered out of the hotel ballroom by security officers.

Later, Volkens said he was frustrated that the panelists were even considering the idea of fishing closures in what he described as "the places left in the area where we can fish for white sea bass."

The panel is expected to take a final vote this afternoon. Their recommendations will be forwarded to the California Fish and Game Commission in December for final approval.

--Louis Sahagun

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