That bastion of rational thought, PETA, is taking advantage of two recent shark bites to ramp up its campaign against fishing. At both Manhattan Beach in California and Okaloosa Island in Florida, it has been using a plane to fly a banner that says, “Keep Hookers Off Beach--- No Fishing.”
Yeah, it is just so clever with word play, equating anglers with prostitutes.
The incident in California does seem to call for a compromise of some kind regarding who can use the pier and adjoining beach and when they can use it. PETA and other zealots, meanwhile, want an outright ban on sportfishing.
At least Manhattan Beach Mayor Amy Howorth is seems to be the voice of reason.
“I don’t like that we’ve demonized fishermen because one guy was behaving seemingly very horribly,” she said. “I certainly want to make it safe for people to enter the water and water sports.”
She added that the city is considering limiting hours for fishing on the pier.
What did or did not happen when a swimmer came too close to the pier, where an angler was fighting a white shark--- and was attacked--- remains the object of debate. The angler has vigorously defended his actions, and the state has declined to prosecute him.
In Florida, meanwhile, a tourist was bitten by a small shark that likely mistook his foot--- or toes--- for fish or shellfish. The media reported that someone was fishing nearby, and PETA took it from there with its anti-fishing campaign.
Almost certainly the shark was a young hammerhead or nurse shark, both of which browse along the bottom in shallow water. Or it might have been a blacktip or spinner, common fish-eating sharks in that area.
The truth is that sharks are common in the shallows all along the coasts of Florida, but the vast majority of them are not man-eaters. Still, I wouldn’t go swimming at night, and I’d always keep a lookout for dorsal fins when I’m in the water during the day. And common sense would tell me not to swim near fishermen.
To show you what I’m talking about, here is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies--- Growing Up With Nature, which will be published later this year:
A couple of years passed before I once again was given the chance to figuratively see the light. This time I was fishing with live shrimp along a low seawall near a beach. “Jaws” had come out that year, and many people were afraid to swim in the ocean.
The 10 or 12 people down to my right, however, either had not seen the movie or didn’t care. Through their yelling and splashing, they left no doubt that they were having a good time.
As I watched them and waited for a bite, I saw a dorsal fin cutting through the water between the beach and the swimmers. “No, it couldn’t be,” I said to myself.
It was. A large shark cruised through the shallows, on its way toward me. I considered yelling to warn the people. But I decided against it, since the predator didn’t seem to be interested in them.
As it neared me, I saw that it was an 8- to 10-foot nurse shark, which is not a man-eater. But it was my first opportunity in a long time to finally catch a big ocean fish.
I cast the shrimp a few feet in front of the shark and waited. I was not disappointed. The big fish took, and I set the hook. In an instant the shark accelerated from a leisurely feeding pace to light speed, as it headed toward deep water.
It ran, and ran, and ran, until it had pulled all the line off my reel. Then the rod bent double, the butt slammed into my stomach, and the knot popped. The shark was gone.
(If you like fish stories, you’ll enjoy my latest book, Why We Fish--- Reel Wisdom from Real Fishermen.)
Starting this fall, Florida will implement a saltwater version of its two-year-old TrophyCatch program, which reward anglers for catching big bass. The announcement was made recently at the ICAST fishing industry show in Orlando.
The “Life List” will include 71 species with four levels of achievement, based on the number of fish that anglers catch, document, photography, and release.
Additionally, fishermen will be recognized for various types of “grand slams,” including inshore (redfish, sea trout, and flounder) and blue water (dorado, sailfish, and wahoo).
The “Reel Big Fish” portion of the program will reward anglers who catch memorable, but not necessarily state- or world-record fish. For example, an amberjack of 50 inches or longer would qualify, as would a mutton snapper of 38 inches or more.
Four levels of prizes, ranging from novice to master angler, will be awarded.
“Our tradition is that of the first man who sneaked away to the creek when the tribe did not really need fish.” --- Roderick Haig-Brown, about modern fishing, A River Never Sleeps, 1946
“People who fish for food, and sport be damned, are called pot-fishermen. The more expert ones are called crack pot-fishermen. All other fishermen are called crackpot fishermen. This is confusing.” --- Ed Zern, 1947
“Even if you've been fishing for three hours and haven't gotten anything except poison ivy and sunburn, you're still better off than the worm.” --- Author unknown
“Every night before a day of fishing is like Christmas Eve when you were a kid: You can’t wait for morning to see what you will get.” --- Robert Montgomery
“Fishing is boring, unless you catch an actual fish, and then it is disgusting.” --- Dave Barry
Recreational fishing for red snapper in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico could become a thing of the past if anglers don't stand up and voice their outrage over a proposal by the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council. Even worse, if the council is not stopped, a precedent will be set and a model established for privatizing other sport fisheries in public waters.
This is the good ol' Catch Shares scheme that Activist Angler has been warning about for several years.
Here is what the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation has to say:
Federal management of Gulf red snapper is allowing only nine recreational fishing days in 2014 for a variety of reasons, including overly rigid statutory requirements, lawsuits and political influence by commercial and environmental organizations.
Rather than work to develop real solutions to the challenges facing recreational red snapper management, the Council is proposing to create further division and infighting among stakeholders by subdividing the recreational sector. The recreational fishing community has a small window of time to stop this troubling amendment from moving forward, but we must organize and act quickly.
And here's a joint statement from the sportfishing industry:
The Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council is currently moving ahead on a proposed amendment that will pit segments of the recreational fi shing community against each other without addressing the fundamental problems with recreational red snapper management.
Amendment 40, also known as “sector separation”, will divide the recreational angler’s 49% share of the snapper fishery roughly in half between private recreational anglers and charter-for-hire and head boat owners (even though many charter boat owners don’t support dividing the recreational catch).
Federal management of Gulf red snapper has been brought to such an abysmal point of only 9 recreational days in 2014 for a variety of reasons, including overly rigid statutory requirements, lawsuits and political influence by commercial and environmental organizations. Rather than work to develop real solutions to the challenges facing recreational red snapper management, the Council is proposing to create further division and infighting among stakeholders by subdividing the recreational sector. The recreational fishing community has a small window of time to stop this troubling amendment from moving forward, but we must mobilize and act quickly.
Call to Action – The next two Gulf Council meetings will decide the fate of our access to our fishery, and these meetings are our last chance to turn the tide. You need to be there for the day of the public hearing (TBD) and speak out against sector separation. Visit Keep America Fishing for updates on the day and time for the critical public testimony.
August 25 - 29, 2014
875 Beach Blvd.
Biloxi, MS 39530
October 20 - 24, 2014
Renaissance Battle House
26 N. Royal Street
Mobile, AL 36602
When it comes to Council decisions, personal testimony at the meetings can be the deciding factor. Attend the public hearings and speak against dividing the recreational component into two different sectors because:
• Dividing the recreational sector further by expanding the commercial model to half of the recreational sector isn’t a solution, it’s a recipe for more hardships with many charter boat owners and all private recreational anglers. The solution is not to divide the recreational community, but to collectively push for a system of management that is appropriate for the entire recreational sector.
• Despite what the commercial industry and environmental groups proclaim, recreational anglers (both private and for-hire components) have been “accountable." We abide by the regulations and do what we are asked to do. It’s the federal system of fisheries management that has been “unaccountable” and failed the recreational community as a whole.
• This type of management philosophy, for all practical purposes, will effectively eliminate the red snapper recreational season in federal waters for the private angler. It will be nearly impossible for someone to trailer their boat to the Gulf or schedule vacation around what will likely be two or three days of snapper season.
• NOAA Fisheries has failed to provide any credible analysis of the economic impacts of this course of management.
• This isn’t just a threat for Gulf of Mexico red snapper anglers. If the red snapper recreational component in the Gulf is allowed to be divided and privatized, it will set a precedent and create a model for other popular sportfish fisheries in the Gulf and along a coast near you.