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Entries in access (33)

Tuesday
Jul012014

Loss of Access Threatens Future of Fishing

Anglers are losing access to their favorite fisheries.

Sometimes, it’s because of development or budget cuts. Other times it’s because government bodies or even private groups have shut down public launch areas.

The latter is happening with increasing frequency because of a fear that invasive species such as zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil will be accidentally introduced via contaminated boats and trailers. Sometimes the concern is legitimate. Other times, it’s simply an excuse to keep out the public.

This threat has grown so severe that one in five anglers surveyed by AnglerSurvey.com reported having to cancel or quit fishing a particular location in 2011 because they lost access to it. Most were able to shift their fishing to another location, but a third of affected anglers said that the loss caused them to quite fishing altogether.

“While access issues can often be overcome by fishing somewhere else, we are still losing some anglers each year due to problems with fishing access,” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which conducts the surveys at AnglerSurvey.com.

“When we add up the anglers lost year after year, whether as a result of marine fishery closures or dilapidated boat ramps, access remains a major long-term problem for sportfishing and fisheries conservation.”

You can help slow down this loss of access and possibly even reverse the trend.

First, be a responsible angler by making certain that you do not allow invasive species to hitchhike on your boat and/or trailer, and encourage others to do the same. When fishermen set good examples, those in power have less reason to try to deny access. Additionally, if you belong to a fishing club, encourage it to work cooperatively with lake associations and government bodies on plans to keep out invasive species.

Also, familiarize yourself with access issues, both locally and nationally. Attend public meetings when access issues are on the agenda. Write letters, send e-mails, and make phone calls to officials, emphasizing that quality access is important.

Solution: Make sure you leave every area better than you found it, be committed and vocal about preventing the spread of invasive species, and get involved locally so that angler interests are represented when decisions on access are made.

Check out five more threats facing fishing at Recycled Fish.

Friday
Jun212013

Anglers Fight to Save Fishing Areas in Australia

Australian anglers are fighting to save “iconic fishing areas” from “Greens and other anti-angling groups.”

Read the story here.

And anglers in the United States should pay attention. Although much of their business is conducted in the shadows, those who want to stop us from fishing are hard at work over here. Among others, their tools are the National Ocean Council and campaigns for Marine Protected Areas, as well as attempts to ban lead fishing tackle and restrict access on the pretence of preventing the spread of invasive species.

Tuesday
May282013

Freedom to Fish Act Passes Congress, Awaits President's Signature 

With bipartisan support, the Freedom to Fish Act has passed both houses of Congress and now awaits President Obama’s signature to become law.

Will he sign it? I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t. But with this administration, you never know what’s going to happen. It tends to like government regulations, lots of regulations. And it doesn't seem to care much for recreational fishing, as evidenced by the National Ocean Policy and the process used in creating it.

When/if the bill becomes law, it would remove access restrictions to recreational fishing along the Cumberland River in Tennessee and Kentucky.

The bill was drafted in response to a recent Army Corps of Engineers decision to restrict access downstream of 10 dams, citing safety concerns. Anglers didn’t like the proposal, saying they would lose some of their most productive waters. In addition, their respective legislative representatives criticized the Corps action, saying that it was overreaching.

“In this political climate it is refreshing to see a bill receive bipartisan support in the interest of recreational anglers and boaters alike,” said ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson, vice president of the American Sportfishing Association.

“While angling and boating access are important to the area’s economy, the proposed barriers along the Cumberland River were also unnecessary and counterproductive from a safety standpoint.

“Particularly concerning with these proposed closures was the lack of public input that went into the Army Corps’ decision,” noted Robertson. “If anglers had been provided an opportunity to weigh in on this proposal, Congressional action might not have been needed. It is critical that the public be allowed sufficient opportunities to provide input on any policy decision that might affect the public’s ability to access and enjoy public resources.”

The Freedom to Fish Act prohibits restrictive areas on the Cumberland River by the Army Corp for two years and also requires the Corps to remove any physical barriers that have been constructed since Aug. 1, 2012. Any future restrictions must be based on operational conditions that might create hazardous waters, and must follow an extensive opportunity for public input.

 More information on the Freedom to Fish Act and the Cumberland River issue can be found at Keep America Fishing.

Monday
Apr292013

Angler Involvement Critical if We Want to Keep Fishing

By nature, anglers don't want to get involved. They just want to go fishing.

I am angler, so I know.

But we must get involved if we are to maintain access to many of our waters.

The latest report from AnglerSurvey.com on public access is not good. Overall, the number of anglers who cancelled a fishing trip or stopped fishing because of lost access didn’t decline from 2011. But it didn’t improve much either.

What that means is that 15 to 20 percent of anglers have reported losing access during the past two years. Because more anglers fish freshwater than salt, most of that loss is inland. “Seventy-one percent of reported access problems involved freshwater anglers and 24 percent involved saltwater in 2012,” AnglerSurvey.com said.

“Despite these challenges, 22 percent of affected anglers said they actually fished more last year than the previous year, just in different locations, and at least 32 percent reported fishing at least as much. Still 39 percent reported fishing less frequently due to their lost access and 7 percent didn’t fish at all.”

While I’m pleased than more than half of anglers reporting said that they fish just as much if not more, there’s a downside to that as well. Combine that statistic with fewer places to fish, and you have more pressure on remaining waters. At some point, that’s likely to discourage even more from going fishing. And more lines in the water also can mean that some fisheries must be more intensively managed, with more restrictions, if they are to be maintained.

Why are we losing access?

Some closures are occurring because property owners associations around lakes are shutting down ramps and/or restricting them to specific hours because of concerns about invasive species. As anglers (and preferably as angling clubs) we must work with these associations, instead of standing back and doing nothing, or even worse, railing against them.

Also, we have to better police our own. Most fishermen don't litter. But those who do give us all a bad name.

Lots of recreational boaters, including some anglers, practice something called "sinking your empties." Instead of taking their empty beer cans and bottles back with them, they throw them into the water. Their excuse is that they don't want to get cited for DUI if they are stopped by law enforcement because they might "give the appearance" of being drunk because of all the empties in the bottoms of their boats. (Check out this link and this one to see what I mean.)

Finally, we must reach out more to state wildlife agencies, offering our assistance for research, cleanup, habitat, and access projects. As we become valuable resources for them, they will become invaluable allies for us.

Some closures are justified; many are not. But the overall trend certainly is in the wrong direction and angler activism is the only way to slow it down. Sadly, that is not happening nearly enough these days. We certainly have the numbers to change things. But strength lies in numbers only if that strength is recognized and acted upon. 

Monday
Mar182013

New Hampshire Latest Front for Loon-atic Assault on Fishing

In case you missed it, preservationists and their political allies in New Hampshire are pushing for a broader lead ban as part of an ongoing campaign to restrict recreational fishing. They profess that their objective is to protect loons. It is not, as no evidence indicates that loon populations are at risk because the birds ingest lead fishing tackle.

This is part of the same offensive that includes an attempt to ban the use of plastic baits in Maine, as well as implement “marine protected areas” in the nation’s coastal waters, where fishing would not be allowed. Some also are using concerns about the spread of invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels --- real threats--- as means to force restrictions on access to inland waters. 

Recreational fishing is under assault, no doubt about it. And you can either help defend it or stick your head in the sand until it’s too late.

New Hampshire Senate Bill 89 would ban the use of any lead sinker or jig weighing 1 ounce or less. That would make use of just about any small fishing lure illegal in state waters.

Keep America Fishing makes these points:

  • This bill would expand an already restrictive policy on the use of lead jigs with no scientific data to back up such a ban.
  • The ban would have a significant negative impact on the state’s economy and fisheries conservation, but a negligible impact on the waterfowl populations it seeks to protect. In fact, New Hampshire’s loon population is increasing.
  • This ban is more restrictive than the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s levels for lead in paint, children’s toys, plumbing fixtures and non-toxic shot for waterfowl hunting.
  • Technology does not permit manufacturers to supply alternative metals 100 percent free of lead so the practical impact of the legislation is to ban all sinkers and jigs less one ounce or less.
  • This size range represents the most commonly used sinkers.

And it adds, “By banning lead completely the state is effectively banning fishing!

“Join us by signing the petition and protect recreational fishing by stopping this overly restrictive and unrealistic ban on fishing tackle!”

 Go here to voice your opposition.