For at least the next two years, the greatest threat nationally to the future of recreational angling will come from the federal government. More specifically, it will come from Dr. Jane Lubchenco and her National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce.
If President Obama is re-elected, then that threat likely will not only persist but grow because of the structure that Lubchenco and her environmental stalwarts are putting in place. If he is not, the structure still will be there, meaning the threat will be as well, although possibly on a lesser scale.
One leg of that structure is the National Ocean Council (NOC), borne from the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force. (See post below: A Ban on Recreational Fishing? Not Yet . . .)
The other is Catch Shares, a strategy that is supposed to be about conservation, but really is about federal management and control. But while the NOC would allow federal intrusion into all waters, Catch Shares is directed at marine fisheries, both commercial and recreational.
At the American Thinker, Mike Johnson presents a revealing piece about Lubchenco, NOAA, and Catch Shares. The introduction should be enough to hook you:
“Barrack Obama came to office with an agenda to fundamentally change America. An element of his agenda is a plan, known as Catch Shares, to restructure the nation’s fishing industry. The author of his plan is Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the environmentalist rock star and former vice chairperson of the Environmental Defense Fund. When it comes to the oceans, the protection of fish, and the punishment of the evil fishermen, Dr. Lubchenco is as extreme as Obama’s former green jobs czar, Van Jones.”
What are Catch Shares? The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) can explain.
As I pointed out at ESPN Outdoors, “Traditionally this management tool has been used primarily for commercial fisheries, along with a few mixed, such as for snowy grouper in the South Atlantic.
“In that context, 'catch share programs set a biologically based annual catch limit for each fish stock and allocate a specific portion of that catch limit to entities, such as commercial fishermen and cooperatives or communities,’ ASA (American Sportfishing Association) explained. 'When designed correctly catch share programs help eliminate the commercial race to fish, reduce overcapacity and by-catch, and improve economic efficiency.’
“Shares can be used, sold, or leased for the right to harvest a set percentage of the yearly allocation for a fish stock.”
Historically, once that allocation was set, it rarely, if ever, was changed, with the number of shares locked in as well.
That aspect of Catch Shares is one of the most troubling for advocates of recreational angling. They point out that using this tool for recreational fishing would trap a potentially infinite number of anglers into chasing a stagnant allotment of fish, resulting in shorter seasons and tighter restrictions.
Considering that sports anglers harvest less than 5 percent of saltwater finfish, yet contribute just as much to the nation’s economy as commercial fishing (more than $80 billion annually), utilizing Catch Shares in a recreational fishery seems exactly the wrong thing to do. It would both discourage participation and cost coastal communities millions of dollars, while doing nothing to “rebuild” fisheries.
Intervention by ASA, CCA and others seems to have slowed down the Catch Shares freight train, at least on the recreational side. “Our No. 1 victory seems to be that the new policy says that Catch Shares has no place in recreational only fisheries,” said Jeff Angers of the Center for Coastal Conservation.
But as long as Lubchenco is leading NOAA, fishermen --- recreational and commercial; freshwater and salt --- should be concerned about the NOC and Catch Shares.
Sports fishermen should educate themselves at sites such as Keep America Fishing and Coastal Conservation Association. And they should tell their representatives and senators that they don’t want recreational angling to join banks, auto companies, home financing, college loans, and health care under federal management
Bureaucrats can’t improve a day on the water. But they sure as hell can ruin it.