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Entries in conservation (160)


Feds Ban Fishing, Restrict Boating in Biscayne National Park

Not surprisingly, the National Park Service (NPS) has just announced that it intends to eliminate sport fishing and severely restrict boating in more than 10,000 acres of Biscayne National Park, as a part of its General Management Plan. 

“Today’s announcement confirms that Biscayne National Park officials never had any real interest in working with stakeholders or the state of Florida to explore compromise plans,” said Mike Leonard, ocean resource policy director for the American Sportfishing Association.

 “The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, one of the nation’s leading fisheries management agencies, has stated that a marine reserve is far too restrictive, and that other management measures can achieve resource goals while still allowing for public access. The only conclusion that one can draw from this decision is that the public is simply not welcome at Biscayne National Park.”

The move is not surprising because the NPS did much the same thing at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area about five years ago. Extensive areas were closed to the public, with off-road vehicle access severely limited at one of the premier surf fishing locations on the East Coast.

It’s long past time to wake up to the fact that the NPS is not a friend to anglers specificially and outdoor recreationists in general. A Washington, D.C. insider once told Activist Angler that the anonymous bureaucrats in that agency have no regard for fishermen and would like nothing better than to restrict public access in our national parks to auto tours.

Go here to sign a petition opposing the Biscayne fishing ban.

“America’s  recreational fishing community is disheartened by the National Park Service’s decision to implement a marine reserve at Biscayne National Park,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation.

 “We understand the importance of protecting our natural resources and the delicate balance needed to ensure that anglers and boaters are able to enjoy these public waters. However, the National Park Service has shown little interest in compromise and today’s announcement confirms a lack of desire to include the needs of park users and stakeholders in important decisions such as this.”

For the past several years, a large coalition of partners in the recreational boating and fishing community has submitted comments, attended public meetings and organized discussions with the leadership at the National Park Service in an attempt to balance the critical need for conservation with the need for recreational access to the park’s waters. Numerous fisheries management measures were presented to the National Park Service that would balance resource conservation with maintaining public access, including size limits, bag limits, quotas, permits, seasonal closures and gear restrictions.

“Anglers recognize that the condition of the fisheries resources in Biscayne National Park needs to be addressed, but we also know that once an area is closed, the public will never be allowed back in,” said Jeff Miller, chairman of Coastal Conservation Association Florida’s Government Relations Committee.

 “These decisions should happen only when clearly supported by science, and when all other management options have failed. By not giving other, less restrictive options a chance, the National Park Service has put Florida’s reputation as ‘Fishing Capital of the World’ at stake.”

To read the most recent public comments submitted by the recreational boating and fishing community to the National Park Service on this issue, click here.  


Bass Anglers Urged to Join Battle to Protect Saltwater Fishing

B.A.S.S. announced today, along with a large coalition of angler groups, the official launch of Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation (BASC), a new intuitive online advocacy system that allows fishing enthusiasts to write, call or tweet their legislators through prewritten engagements online.

“Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation is, at its core, an opportunity for fans of bass fishing and B.A.S.S. to channel their passion for all things fishing into good public policies that concern our sport,” said Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO.

“Right now, the fisheries policy battles in Congress are focused on saltwater fishing, but tomorrow these issues could spread to freshwater lakes, rivers, or countless other fisheries we love to fish.

“Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation was designed to give all anglers a voice and platform by which to contact lawmakers and advocate for the preservation and growth of recreational angling, and we are proud to support it. Through this new advocacy system, we hope to create a brotherhood of anglers that defends fisheries access for all anglers, regardless of where they fish.”

By accessing Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation,, fishing enthusiasts can simply fill out their constituent information and contact their legislators through the method they choose. BASC then automatically identifies the appropriate legislators and provides users with talking points for a call, a pre-written letter, or even a pre-written tweet based on the user’s preferences.

The timing of the debut of the website is appropriate, said B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland. He noted that the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act — the nation’s primary marine fisheries law — along with three key amendments to benefit recreational fishing.

“Opportunities to change federal fisheries management policy don't come along very often,” Gilliland said. “In this case the thousands of bass anglers who also fish in saltwater need to contact their congressmen today! Encourage them to vote in favor of greater recreational fishing opportunity.”

Professional bass anglers also are joining the push to get freshwater fishermen more involved on issues that threaten all types of sportfishing.

“Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation isn’t just for bass anglers,” said Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jeff Kriet. “Many of the anglers I know fish in both salt and freshwater. The issues our coastal fisheries currently face could easily translate into freshwater if we do not take action.

“In order to ensure that our children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy the same fishing experiences as the anglers of today, regardless of what they fish for or where they like to fish, we must raise a unified voice to the nation’s legislators. When the 33 million anglers in the U.S. come together for positive change, we are a force that cannot be ignored.”

The primary threat to the future of saltwater fishing is lack of access to thriving fish stocks. One example of this is the current situation with red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. Once considered one of the most prized fish in the Gulf, red snapper’s federal season was reduced to a mere nine days in 2014, and only 10 days in 2015. However, according to the National Marine Fisheries Services’ own numbers, the population of Gulf Red Snapper is nearing its highest level in decades.

Those who oppose recreational fishing are driving situations exactly like that of red snapper throughout America’s oceans, and may soon bring the battle to freshwater fisheries. If anglers stand idly by while this happens, the opportunities to continue the sport will be greatly endangered.

Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation provides a simple, easy-to-use tool for anglers to stand up against misguided policies. As policy battles move through Congress and the federal bureaucracy, anglers and recreational fishing enthusiasts will have the ability to contact their senators and representatives, as well as cabinet members and even the President of the United States with the click of a mouse. BASC will send action alerts to anglers who sign up for the newsletter, so that anglers everywhere can stay up-to-date on the policies that affect sportfishing.


Support Research About How to Properly Handle Bass

 We need to know more about how to properly handle bass, especially big bass. The following provides some compelling evidence.

On March 18, Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPW) posted this on its ShareLunker Facebook page:

“Three of this year’s five ShareLunkers have come in with broken jaws.Two have died. The other has been returned to the lake.The only explanation we have for the broken jaws is fish being held vertically by the lower jaw. 

“Broken jaws can kill fish in two ways. An infection can start at the break and invade other organs. Or, the fish may not be able to feed and will starve.”

TPW offers good advice on how to properly handle these trophy fish, but we need to know more about how to properly handle bass of all sizes and then we need to spread the word. If you doubt that, just consider the many photos you see of anglers improperly holding bass horizontally by the lower jaw. Even much smaller fish can be hurt this way.

Want to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem? Don’t hold bass horizontally unless you place one hand under the belly to support its weight. And donate to this important research in Florida.

The main objective is to test whether different handling techniques influence the jaw function of Florida largemouth bass. “We hypothesize that improper handling could influence feeding effectiveness and jaw mechanics, as well as fish survival.”

Your support is needed to fund a scholarship through the Fisheries Conservation Foundation for a graduate student to conduct the experiment in the research lab at the Florida Bass Conservation Center near Webster, Florida. “Your support also will go towards travel expenses to the hatchery for the student and outreach materials so we can communicate our results to the bass angling community.


Join the Pitch It Campaign to Keep Plastics Out of Our Waters


Please pledge to “pitch it” in Keep America Fishing’s (KAF) new campaign to prevent used plastic baits and other trash from littering our waters and  shorelines.

KAF says this:

“What happens when soft baits get torn or worn out? Too often, they are ending up as litter at the bottoms of ponds, lakes and rivers and that’s causing problems. Recently in Maine, a bill was introduced that would have banned the sale and use of soft plastic lures.

“That’s why Keep America Fishing created the Pitch It campaign to talk to fishermen about the proper disposal of worn out soft baits. By standing up against litter, we can protect our precious natural resources while taking away a powerful argument from those who want to regulate the contents of our tackle boxes. That’s a win-win!”

Go here to take the pledge and hear a short video by Kevin VanDam in support of the effort.

By the way, I started warning about the problems caused by discarded plastic baits back in 2011, first in B.A.S.S. Times and then at Activist Angler. Angler Joe Ford, who caught a large bass with a stomach full of discarded baits, and Carl Wengenroth at The Angler's Lodge on Lake Amistad first brought this issue to my attention. Here are a couple of those early articles:

Discarded Baits Could Be a Killer; Put Them in the Trash

We Have a Problem


Support Conservation With a Donation in Memory of Noreen Clough

If you're a bass fisherman and care about conservation and the future of our fisheries, please consider making a donation to the Noreen Clough Memorial Scholarship for Females in Fisheries.

Noreen was National Conservation Director for B.A.S.S. and died recently of pancreatic cancer. She was a role model for many, including the B.A.S.S. Nation state conservation directors.

"Noreen was inspiring to me, and I challenge all of you to make a donation. Do it in the name of your club, your state B.A.S.S. Nation organization, your family, or just you, but do it," said Lonnie Johnson, Oregon conservation director, who made a generous donation.

Whitney Jacobs, who served an internship at B.A.S.S. under Noreen, added, "My family also made a donation. Noreen would absolutely love this scholarship. I'm happy to support her the way she supported me!"