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Tuesday
Aug282012

Walmart Heirs Allied With Obama Administration in Anti-Fishing Agenda

Anti-fishing is well represented in President Obama’s administration, and, as I pointed out yesterday, its advocates will be even more aggressive should this President win a second term.

They will have plenty of support too. Not in terms of numbers; recreational fishing is viewed favorably by a vast majority of people. But in terms of finances; preservationists --- those who believe that we should exist apart from nature, as opposed to as a part of nature --- have deep pockets, and they are spending millions to keep us from fishing.

About a year ago, the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) pointed to the Walton Family Foundation as one of the worst, even though Walmart stores are eager to sell fishing tackle to anglers.

“Shopping for fishing equipment at Walmart is contributing directly to the demise of our sport, it’s supporting lost fishing opportunities and decreased coastal access for all Americans,” said RFA Executive Director Jim Donofrio.

 “I hope all RFA members across the country will remember that when it’s time to gear up, but I would also wonder if perhaps our industry can help spread the message and support our local tackle shops by also pulling product off Walmart’s shelves.” 

In the wake of that revelation, the National Legal and Policy Center explained Walmart ties to the green movement in an article with the headline “Walmart Heirs Fund Anti-Fishing Activists.”

Here’s an excerpt:

“The bulk of the foundation’s grants have gone to many of the usual suspects within environmental extremism: Environmental Defense Fund, World Wildlife Fund, National Audubon Society, American Rivers, Ocean Conservancy, and Marine Stewardship Council, among others. The New Jersey-based Recreational Fishing Alliance calls the substantive gifts an attempt to ‘fund the demise of both the recreational and commercial fishing industry,’ noting especially Ocean Conservancy’s desire to eliminate access.”

And there’s more. Much more. Stay tuned to the Activist Angler to learn what we’re up against.

Also, remember that a vote for President Obama in November is a vote against recreational fishing and a vote for the preservationist movement embraced by the Walton Family Foundation and other philanthropists whose views don’t reflect those of the majority of Americans.  

Monday
Aug272012

Four More Years Would Be Disaster for Recreational Fishing

 

Many in the outdoor media are critical of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for cutting or attempting to cut funds for various federal conservation programs.

I’m not one of them.

Yes, I would like that funding to continue. Yes, I believe that we could continue to finance those programs despite the budget deficit --- if we could eliminate the billions in fraud and waste perpetrated by corrupt politicians who are so adept at spending other people’s money. But that is as likely to happen as teaching pigs to fly so that we can save shipping costs for ham and bacon.

Republicans elected to the House in 2010 --- many of them supported by Tea Party affiliates --- went to Washington, D.C., with the intent of shrinking government, reducing taxes, and cutting back on spending.

I support that agenda and, sadly, realize that enacting it will mean reduced budgets for all if we are to avoid the collapse of our economy because of insurmountable debt.

On the other hand, four more years of Obama will push us to the precipice of economic collapse, with Greece providing us with a preview of what could happen here.

Meanwhile, many of those same folks in the outdoor media have been ignoring the threat that four more years of this president also will pose for recreational fishing.

Let’s start with funding. States finance their fisheries programs primarily with license fees and money collected as excise taxes on tackle, equipment, and motorboat fuel through the federal Sport Fish Restoration Program. If the first four years are any indication --- and I believe that they are --- a second term would be catastrophic for our economy and, by extension, the fishing industry. That could mean less money for fisheries management, as anglers cut back on discretionary spending to make ends meet. 

The National Ocean Policy is the 500-pound gorilla in the room. By-passing Congress with an Executive Order, Obama has created a massive bureaucracy that will tell us where we can and cannot fish through a strategy called “marine spatial planning.” In reality, it is death by a thousand cuts for angling, as one fishery after another will be shut down by nameless bureaucrats.

Catch Shares is a second strategy pushed by this administration to limit access. Supposedly, it is being done for conservation. In reality, it is a scheme to privatize a public resource, as “shares” of an ocean fishery are allotted to individuals and/or companies. Right now, mostly it is directed at species harvested commercially. But if incorporated into “mixed” (commercial and recreation) fisheries, it will limit participation, as the sport sector will be limited to the same fixed amount each year.

The National Ocean Policy and Catch Shares are brought to us by preservationists from environmental groups that Obama has brought into his administration. Special interests aren’t just influencing public policy; they are setting it. 

If this President gets a second term, look for de-emphasizing of sport fisheries programs within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal agencies, attempts to reduce access for anglers and hunters by establishment of land and marine preserves, and renewed boldness by anti-fishing groups that want to ban lead fishing tackle.

Also, look for this administration to continue “searching” for a solution that will keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, as it sides with Illinois in opposing the obvious solution --- closing the manmade connection between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basin. Eliminating that entry/exit not only would help keep carp out, but it would prevent other invasives from moving between the two systems.

I don’t know if Romney/Ryan would be any better about policy regarding this last issue. But I suspect that they would, given that Ryan, now a representative from Wisconsin, is both an angler and a hunter and would have a better appreciation of the value of the Great Lakes sport fishery. He also is a member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.

What I do know is that this President is not a friend of angling. He might not be personally against it, but many in his administration either have no regard for it or they do oppose it. That, combined with four more years of economic hardship for this country, would be crushing for recreational fishing.

Please keep that in mind when you go to the polls in November.  And if you are an angler who usually does not vote, I hope that this will motivate you to do so. 

Friday
Aug242012

Carp Are Doing Damage Even When You Don't See Them

These bighead carp were damaging a Missouri pond without the owner even knowing they were there. USGS photo.

The Journal Sentinel offers an in-depth look about the search for techniques to track Asian carp. But first, it presents this anecdote that typifies damage that invasive species can cause with little or no realization of what’s going on:

A fish pond in Missouri reveals just how stealthy Asian carp can be.

Maybe an acre in size, the pond had been stocked with catfish, bass and bluegills. The owner was pumping it full of fish food, yet the fish appeared to be starving. So in early 2010 the owner called in a consultant. 

"They came out with electrofishing gear, caught some fish and looked at them," said Duane Chapman, one of the country's leading Asian carp experts and a biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. "The fish were emaciated and he didn't know why. He said, 'There's something wrong here. We need to start over again.' They brought in rotenone and completely killed the pond."

Over the next week, the rotting carcasses of about 300 bighead carp surfaced. The smallest were 20 pounds. The big ones were a border collie-sized 35 pounds. Poisoned Asian carp, Chapman explained, are different from many fish species in that they typically don't surface unless the water is warm enough for gases to build up in their bellies, a process that can take a week.

"It was quite amazing there could be that much poundage in one small pond," Chapman said.

It turned out that a decade earlier the previous property owner had stocked the pond with bighead. They had flourished right under the nose of the new owner, who had smelled trouble - but couldn't see a thing.

I found the story especially interesting because grass carp --- illegally introduced by lakefront property owners who should be arrested --- have done the same thing to the small lake behind my house. Those carp, most of them 20 pounds and more, make up the majority of the biomass.

And just as an acre of land can grow only so many bushels of corn, a lake can sustain only so many pounds of fish. As a result, the bass and catfish in my little lake grow slowly, if at all, with the bulk of the bass being 12 inches or less.

Will what has happened in that pond and my lake also occur if/when Asian carp move into the Great Lakes?

Do we really want to wait and see what happens, endangering a billion-dollar sport fishery? The time is long past due to close the manmade connection between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basin. Right now, it provides an open door for invasive species to migrate from one system to another.

Friday
Aug242012

California Brothers Deserve Your Support for Fish-a-Thon

Recycled Fish 24 Hour Fish-A-Thon

 

On Sept. 7 and 8, more than 50 teams from around the country will participate in Recycled Fish’s 24-Hour Fish-a-Thon, an event designed to raise awareness about problems facing our fisheries, as well as funds to address those problems.

As they fish for 24 hours, participants will bring attention to the issues on their home waters, with money raised by pledges from their supporters.

Out in California, brothers Sean (14) and Ryan (11) Gage will participate on Lake Cunningham as Team Catch & Release.

Two youngsters taking the initiative to help this great cause should be enough to solicit support for them from around the country.

But here’s something else: They both have autism.

“They had no idea what they were signing up for other than, as Sean said, they want to help,” said Ben Leal III, program director for Recycled Fish.

“Not only are these two awesome young men willing to take on the challenge of fishing for 24 hours, raising awareness for the lake they frequent, but they have autism.

“They are high-functioning, but they face the challenges surrounding it. Ryan’s Mom said that he loves to fish and that is what he wants to do with his life.”

Upon learning their story, Ben and others already have contributed to Team Catch & Release, including My Little Buddy’s Boat, an autism awareness non-profit founded by my friend Eli Delany.

His son, Luke, also has autism. Eli learned early on the therapeutic power of fishing and boating for some with autism, and that inspired the name of his organization.

“The greatest joy in my fishing career is taking my son on the (autism) spectrum fishing with me,” added Anthony Larson, a Wisconsin guide and leader of his own Fish-a-Thon team. “Seeing the calming effects of being around and on the water is paralleled by no other treatment that he’s had.”

If you’d like to donate to the Sean and Ryan’s Catch & Release team, go here.

Autism is far more prevalent than many people realize, and is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in every 88 children has autism. Symptoms vary broadly, from problems with communication and interaction to limited interests in activity and play.

One of the best things that can be done to help these children is simply to recognize the disability and then assist them according to their needs. That’s why autism awareness is so important.

You can help the cause by buying a Fishin' With a Mission decal at My Little Buddy's Boat.

Thursday
Aug232012

More California Craziness Shows What's Coming if President Is Re-elected

Dan Richardson lost his job as chairman of the California Fish and Game Commission for legally hunting a mountain lion in Idaho.

Once more I am warning you: Anglers and hunters will pay dearly for their passiveness if Barack Obama is re-elected.

A second term will mean an administration controlled by preservationists and environmental groups who revile fishing and hunting as much as they hate fossil fuels and free markets. They will make it their mission to use Executive Orders and agency regulations to shut down both sports as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.

Certainly their views do not represent the majority of people in this country, but they are zealots with deep pockets. They can get what they want if we do not fight back with the power of the vote in November.

Sadly, California already has fallen to them, and it is the poster child for what they want to achieve nationally. The latest evidence is the removal of Dan Richards as president of the California Fish and Game Commission. Bowing to pressure from anti-hunting and animal rights groups, other commissioners unanimously voted him out.

His crime? Legally killing a mountain lion in Idaho and then posing for a photo with the carcass.

Of course, hunting mountain lions is illegal in the enlightened state of California.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation says this:  

“After the photo was published, anti-hunting state legislators circulated a letter threatening to remove Richards from the California Fish and Game Commission if he did not resign on his own. Undeterred and remaining steadfastly committed to standing up for California's recreational hunters and anglers, Richards refused to step down and legislators eventually abandoned their efforts to remove him from his post on the Commission.

“Despite being stripped of his leadership position, Richards has stated that he intends to remain on the commission through the remainder of his term which will expire in February 2013.”

Michael Bolton has a great piece about the difference between California and the rest of the nation at Al.com. His opening paragraph:

“California and Alabama aren't different states. They are different planets.”

And if we re-elect this President, we will suffer four more years of an administration pushing us to be more like California, which is totally alien to the values of most of us who fish and hunt.