Too many in this country, especially anglers, fail to recognize that the anti-fishing movement is strong and going stronger, not only in private organizations such as PETA, but in federal government. Right now, anti-fishing elements in both groups are strategizing together about how to establish National Marine Monuments that would prohibit recreational fishing off the New England coast
The National Park Service (NPS) already has closed portions of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and now it's going after a recreational fishing ban on part of Florida's Biscayne National Park, under the pretense of protecting coral.
But because its decisions affect just one part of the country at a time, outrage regarding its actions usually is limited to those personally affected by the loss of access and the fishing industry in general, which tries its best to awaken anglers to this threat.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen exposed how anti-fishing proponents have corrupted NPS management in her recent critique of its proposal.
"Putting a no-fishing zone at the forefront of Biscayne’s coral-protection strategy would seem to suggest that NPS believes fishing is the primary threat to our reefs," she said.
"But scientists have determined that poor water quality and periodic extreme water temperatures are responsible for most coral losses in Biscayne over the last two decades. Furthermore, overfishing is just one of five major threats to Biscayne’s coral reefs that NPS has identified, including reduced freshwater flows into Biscayne Bay, invasive species, water quality/pollution and climate change.
"Knowing this, how can NPS propose that eliminating fishing in 7 percent of park waters will vastly improve the state of park reefs?"
She also correctly contrasts that political move to impose an preservationist ideology with how NPS managers at Everglades National Park properly developed a management.
" Everglades’ GMP (general management plan) has gone through the same tortured process that Biscayne’s has, yet when the final plan was recently released, it was rightly praised by fishermen and environmental groups alike because it was grounded in a consensus-based plan that balanced ecological protection and public access. The plan vastly expands pole/troll zones across Florida Bay to protect vital seagrass beds from boat motors while allowing folks to enjoy fishing and boating in their public waters via dozens of new, marked access routes."
That plan, she correctly pointed out, supports both fish habitat and fishing.
"In Biscayne, the plan lays out a false choice between fish habitat or fishing," she said. "It’s not too late for the Park Service to develop a GMP for Biscayne that can actually deliver the conservation benefits it’s designed to provide, and do so with the support of all stakeholders in our community — the type of GMP that neighboring Everglades National Park recently proposed."