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Entries in Keep America Fishing (61)

Friday
May062016

Fishermen Arrested for Animal Cruelty? It Could Happen Like This . . . 

CLEWISTON, Fla. --- John Jones and Tom Smith were arrested on Lake Okeechobee Friday. Their boat was impounded and their children placed in foster care.

Jack McCoy, a court-appointed attorney for fish found in the livewell, said that he intends to prosecute both to the full extent of the law, under the new federal Animal Protection Act. "Fish have rights, legal rights, and we intend to make an example of these two for the cruel and inhumane way that they were behaving," McCoy said.

"Their fishing tackle, which is now illegal to possess, will be burned.  We hope that our actions will send a message nationwide that fishing not only is cruel, but those who participate will suffer the consequences of their barbaric actions."

*                   *                     *                   *                    *                  *

Think that can't happen here? Think again.

As anglers, we share this planet with a growing number of people who are divorced from nature and, as a consequence, reality. In addition, they are relentless in pursuit of what they believe is a kinder, gentler, and more enlightened world.

Our side, meanwhile, is populated by millions who just want to be left alone to fish; to idle into a flat cove at dawn, certain that a trophy lies waiting to explode on a topwater; to introduce their children to a peaceful and contemplative pastime that has been passed down from generation to generation; to feel the adrenaline surge as they step up to the weigh-in stand with a heavy bag.

They have no interest in the "issues" that sadly have become so much a part of recreational angling. In fact, a substantial number of subscribers to B.A.S.S. Times likely won't even bother to read this column. Instead, they'll focus on the techniques articles and tournament news, ignoring this topic in much the same way the grasshopper in an Aesop's fable continued to play instead of storing food as winter approached, and, as a result, found itself dying of hunger.

A bill that could lead to a scenario described above already has been introduced in the Canada Parliament. It follows in the wake of similar seemingly surreal, but all too real, legislation in European countries, where sport fishing as we know it no longer exists. And should such a bill ever become law in Canada, its proponents quickly would focus their collective efforts on the United States.

Keep Canada Fishing says this about the Modernizing Animal Protections Act: "Provisions in Bill C-246 clearly make it possible for someone who catches a fish to face criminal prosecution for cruelty to animals.  Even the act of baiting a hook with a worm would be considered an act of cruelty according to the bill."  

Ostensibly, the bill addresses the deplorable practice of catching and killing sharks for their fins to be sold in Asian food markets. It would prevent the import of fins and prevent finning in Canadian waters.

But a long-time observer of the animal rights movement in Canada and the United States says that's camouflage.

"Bills like this are brought forward under the pretense of protecting puppies and cats, or, in this case, preventing shark finning. These are things any reasonable people would oppose," says Phil Morlock, government affairs chair of the Canada Sportfishing Industry and director of environmental affairs for Shimano.

"But the devil is in the details. If this was only about shark finning, it would say that. But it goes far beyond that."

For example, it would mandate that anyone who kills an animal "brutally" or "viciously" is guilty of an offense, "regardless of whether the animal dies immediately." But it doesn't define those terms.

"For years, animal rights people have tried to portray fishing, hunting and trapping as brutal and vicious," says Morlock, who adds that, if an angler or hunter is charged under this bill, "you never know what a court will decide. Someone could face jail time for taking a fish home or shooting a duck."

Additionally, C-246 would move animals from the "certain property" classification to the Criminal Code dealing with offenses against persons. And there lies the ultimate agenda of the radical animal rights movement.

While they purport to advocate for animal welfare, they really are about giving legal rights to animals,  an action that would threaten not only recreational angling and hunting, but commercial fishing, agriculture, and medical research. In other words, they want court-appointed attorneys for bass to prosecute those millions and millions of us who now fish for them.

Whether we live in Canada or the United States, it's time for anglers to accept this new reality, that many people out there don't want us to fish, and they are not going to stop trying to make their dream our nightmarish reality. Occasionally, we must be willing to put our rods down to use the political process to oppose them. Otherwise, they will be taken from us.

(This column appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)

Saturday
Feb272016

Republicans Support and Democrats Oppose Sportmen's Act

The House of Representatives passed the Sportmen's Act yesterday, legislation that recognizes the importance of fishing and hunting to our nation. It passed 242-161. Curious as to who voted against it, and with no idea of what I would find, I went here.

This is what I discovered:

230 Republicans voted for it, and just 4 against it. On the other hand, just 12 Democrats supported it and 157 voted against.

If you hunt and fish, you be the judge as to who you should vote for in November.

Here's a summary of the bill.
*****
Also, if you fish and hunt, encourage your Senators to support the legislation.

Here's what Keep America Fishing says:

“Given all that is going on in the world of politics, for our nation’s sporting traditions to receive full consideration by the House of Representatives demonstrates that our Congressional leaders recognize the importance of recreational fishing and hunting to the nation.”

Wednesday
Sep162015

Marine Monuments Could Include Ban on Recreational Fishing

Does anyone remember  President Obama's National Ocean Council (NOC), formed early in his first term to "zone" uses of our oceans, coastal waters, and even inland. In other words, its intent is to tell us what we can do where, and, while it may start in blue water that few ever venture out to, that's not where it will stop. The inevitable result will be restrictions on where we can fish--- unless we fight back.

If you don't remember the NOC, check out this earlier post National Ocean Council Is an Executive Power Grab of Our Fisheries.

A more recent move to impose "fully protected" marine monuments is part of that same effort. It may not be Obama's intention to restrict or ban recreational fishing, but it certainly is the intent of many of those with whom he allies himself.

Keep America Fishing reports that some anti-fishing organizations are pressing for these bans off the New England Coast.

"The federal government is currently exploring this issue," it says. "There is the potential for all recreational fishing to be banned, even though there’s no evidence to suggest we pose a threat to the habitat or fish populations in these areas.

"It's time to make your voice heard above our opponents --- send a letter today.

Go here to learn more and send a letter.

Tuesday
Aug112015

Share a Recyling Location for Plastic Baits

Do you know of a recycling location or container for soft plastic baits? If so, mark it on the Fishidy map. Just click here or on the map to go to the link sponsored by Keep America Fishing.

Identified locations will feature the Pitch It logo, making it easy to find on a phone, tablet or PC.

While you are at the site, also please take the pledge to properly dispose of your used plastic baits. In othe words, "Pledge to pitch it!"

Tuesday
May052015

Pitch Those Plastic Baits Properly

I never tossed used plastic baits into the water. It just didn’t make sense to me. They are no more food for fish than the wrapper from peanut butter crackers or a soda can.

But I saw other people do it, including friends and even some professional anglers. If those discarded baits were in reach before they sank, I’d nonchalantly pick them up and stow them to throw away later on shore. Yet I never said anything to them for a number of reasons, including the fact that often I was fishing out of their boats.

Others, I suspect, have had similar experiences with their fishing buddies.

Why do people who wouldn’t otherwise litter think that it’s okay to pitch used baits into our lakes and rivers? I don’t think that they do. I believe that they just don’t think about it at all. It’s part of the age old problem that we have with using our public waters for trash receptacles--- out of sight, out of mind.

But those discarded baits show up eventually. They’re washed ashore. They’re exposed on the lake bottom during low water. Or, less commonly, they’re found in the stomachs of fish.

When people who don’t fish see this plastic litter, they shake their heads in disgust and view all of us as thoughtless slobs, even though in reality, only a few are responsible.

Still, this is an anglers only problem. We are the only ones who use those baits, and, consequently, we are the only ones who discard them.

And if we don’t take care of the problem on our own, non-anglers will, with possibly catastrophic consequences for those of us who love to fish. Foreshadowing of what could lie ahead nationally occurred in Maine last year, with an attempt to ban soft plastic baits.

Here and there, a few conscientious anglers have addressed the problem in recent years. Up in Minnesota, Mickey Goetting of the Minnesota B.A.S.S. Nation melts and molds used baits into new ones. Carl Wengenroth at Lake Amistad does the same with River Slung Lures.  And in Florida, state conservation director Eamon Bolten has founded ReBaits, a recycling program that he hopes to expand.

But we’ve needed more, and now we have it, thanks to Keep America Fishing (KAF), the grassroots angler advocacy arm of the recreational fishing industry. The new national campaign is labeled, appropriately enough, “Pitch It,” and it has no less than Kevin VanDam as a spokesman.

“There’s no excuse for throwing anything in the water that isn’t going to break down immediately,” said VanDam. “A crusty sandwich is one thing, but old plastics, fishing line, or any tackle should be carried to shore at the end of the day.

“We have to lead by example.”

Industry leaders at the American Sportfishing Association recognized the need for a national effort because of what happened in Maine, according to Liz Ogilvie, KAF director.

“However, we would like to extend the campaign beyond soft plastic baits to address trash of any type littering our nation’s waterways.

“Our industry has stepped up to take the initiative to tackle this problem head-on and demonstrate that recreational anglers are --- as always--- the best stewards of our nation’s waterways.”

Anglers also buy more than $490 million worth of soft plastic baits a year, nearly double the amount of the next most widely sold lure type, according to Southwick Associates. Additionally, more than 57 percent of those who bought lures in 2014, included soft plastics in their purchases. In other words, plastic baits are indispensable for both fishermen and industry.

On the negative side, University of Wisconsin students in 2009 calculated that 25 million pounds of baits end up in lakes, rivers, and streams annually, while Maine Inland Fisheries put the amount at 20 million pounds.

Both the positive and the negative stats underscore the importance of anglers supporting the Pitch It campaign. Please, go to www.pledgetopitchit.org and pledge to dispose of your used baits in a recycling canister or the trash, instead of the water.

And if you see someone throwing baits in the water or on the ground, speak up. We’ve been silent about this long enough.

(This column appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)