Before Hollywood, before biotech, before container shipping, before international tourism, even before the Navy – the economy of coastal harbors was tied to fishing. Sardines, tuna, swordfish and seabass were caught and processed by the ton, supporting thousands of jobs.

Now fishing and seafood processing is a global enterprise, but San Diego, San Pedro, Monterey, Bodega Bay, Eureka and many other communities to this day support fishing and processing enterprises and hundreds of jobs.

But what international competition hasn’t defeated, the state of California just may.

Last month, the California Legislature sent to the Governor legislation that would require superfluous labeling of seafood. The effect of the bill wouldn’t be only to irritate and confuse consumers, but upend the state’s fish processing and retail businesses for a California-only requirement.

I love seafood. I’ll eat almost any preparation – and I want to eat what I ordered off the menu or from the fish merchant’s counter. But guess what – fish fraud is already illegal under several federal and state laws. SB 1138 closes no legal loopholes nor adds any new investigative or enforcement resources.

Instead, SB 1138 requires that fish processors, retailers and restaurants identify the “common name” of the seafood on the label or menu. Which is not actually the familiar name of the fish.

For example, popular “mahi-mahi” must be identified as “dolphinfish.” No chance consumers might think they are being sold a Flipper steak, right?

Did you know there are 32 species of “snapper?” You would if you knew your common names of the fish. Under SB 1138, a seafood merchant would have to separate his “bloodred snapper” from his “blubber lip snapper” to ensure correct packaging and labeling. Actually, it’s more likely the company would decline to deliver the product to California in the first place, given the cost of identifying, segregating and labeling the different species – and the risk of criminal penalties and civil lawsuits if it makes a mistake.

For many years, the federal Food and Drug Administration has required seafood labeling using either the market name or the common name. The market name is what’s familiar to consumers; the common name is used by ichthyologists – and by few others. SB 1138 would treat us all as fisheries experts.

A fishmonger selling ordinary whitefish as “Chilean Seabass” will not be deterred from his crime by a new requirement that the seabass be labeled as Patagonian Toothfish.

As a “fishianado,” I appreciate Sen. Alex Padilla’s sincere effort to improve consumer protections. Unfortunately, this bill instead makes matters much worse – confusing customers and burdening processors and retailers. A far better approach would be to prioritize enforcement and crack down on the bad actors.

Governor Brown should throw this bill back.