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Entries in Keep America Fishing (54)

Thursday
Sep192013

In Defense of Fishing

 

Photo by Robert Montgomery

At the bank the other day, the teller told me that I had shortchanged myself a thousand dollars on my deposit slip.

I know why it happened. Each of the checks that I was depositing included a fraction of a dollar. I was so concerned about getting the pennies correct that I neglected to devote sufficient attention to the dollars.

In other words, I focused too much on minor details and completely missed the big picture.

That’s an easy thing to do. Most of us have done it at one time or another, and, fortunately, consequences usually aren’t catastrophic. We have spouses, friends, and friendly tellers to set us straight.

But too many of us are missing the big picture right now regarding the future of recreational fishing, and consequences could be catastrophic.

As the administration leads the country in a direction that the majority of Americans oppose, those who dislike recreational fishing or, at best, are indifferent to it, are using their White House alliances to push for massive federal control of public waters. And here’s the dangerous part:

As conservationists, anglers believe in sustainable use of fisheries, while protecting habitat, opposing pollution, and preserving the resource for future generations to enjoy.         

By contrast those pushing an anti-fishing agenda are preservationists who believe in “look but don’t touch.” They assert that humans exist apart from nature, rather than as a part of it. They think that we act immorally when we manage or alter it in any way.

Consequently, the big picture is that a concerted effort is underway to deny us access to a public resource, and, in so doing, to deny and destroy a significant portion of our history, culture, and economy --- not to mention our right to enjoy a day on the water with friends and family.

Granted, the movement is only now gaining momentum. Chances are, if you live inland, you might not see any closures in your life time. But the snowball has begun to roll downhill.

Arguably, it began when environmentalists convinced President George W. Bush to designate two remote areas in the Pacific as marine reserves. It has strengthened with the recently created National Ocean Council, which has been given authority to zone uses of our oceans, coastal waters, and Great Lakes, as well as the option to move inland to rivers, lakes, and reservoirs.

Also, it’s taking shape via the Magnuson-Stevens Conservation Act and  a “catch shares” management strategy in which recreational participation would be capped.

And as preservationists seek to “protect” oceans from anglers, lake associations want to do the same on inland waters. Knowing a good excuse when they see one, they insist that closures of public access areas are needed to prevent spread of invasive species.

Inland access might seem unrelated to the ocean management. But they are two fronts of the same battle.

You need only look to California to see what is coming our way. Fisheries are falling one after the other, like dominoes, as emotion trumps science-based fisheries management.

Mostly the closures are coming under the auspices of the state Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA).        But they’re also occurring through local regulations. Four out of five members of the Laguna Beach City Council supported a five-year moratorium on recreational fishing along its 7 miles of coast.

“There’s no such thing as a five-year moratorium,” said dissenter Kelly Boyd. “You turn something over to the state and you’ll never get it back.”

Dave Connell, an angry angler, added, “We’re fighting a fad, an environmental extremist wacko fad about closing the ocean. I do not know what their agenda is, but it is not to save the fish. It is not to keep the ocean clean.”

For our side, the fishing industry is spearheading a Keep America Fishing campaign. In particular, member Shimano deserves recognition. Along with donating $100,000 a year and considerable staff time annually to the cause, it has been one of the most outspoken critics of the way in which the MLPA has been implemented.

As a consequence, it has been the target of the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups, who have deep pockets with which to voice their zealotry. Filled with invective and inaccuracy, the Shame on Shimano website is but one example.

"The 'Shame on Shimano' campaign by NRDC is an outrageous misrepresentation of the facts about a company who has led the outdoor industry in supporting scientific research, habitat improvement, youth programs and fishery conservation efforts across North America for twenty years," said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF).

Starting to see the big picture yet?

Tuesday
Jul092013

Keep America Fishing Strengthens Its Angler Advocacy Program

As Keep America Fishing supporters exceed 1 million, the angler advocacy program is introducing a new membership option and a new website.

“These are exciting milestones for Keep America Fishing. Our new membership program and website will help us reach the next million anglers and increase angler influence on policy issues affecting sportfishing,” said Gordon Robertson, vice president of the American Sportfishing Association.

Kathryn Powers, director of Keep America Fishing noted, “We are looking forward to providing our members and advocates with useful policy tools and benefits that will create a fun experience and inspire them to take action on policy issues. Launching the Membership program and new website is just a first step. Look for great things to come.”

Go here to learn more.

And get involved. Now, more than ever, anglers must be activists, if our sport is to endure. We face unprecedented threats at every level, from federal to local, from the National Ocean Council and the Asian carp invasion to lake associations that want to deny public access and anti-fishing groups that demand unwarranted bans on lead fishing tackle.

Thursday
Jun202013

Inactive Anglers Are Embarrassment in Fight for Bristol Bay and on Other Issues

Sadly, environmentalists and fishermen, who are conservationists, don’t have much in common these days. That’s because of much of the environmental agenda is inherently anti-fishing. 

Much of that stems from enviros refusal to differentiate between recreational fishing and commercial fishing.

As a matter of fact, anglers were among the first “environmentalists” because of their concern for clean water and healthy fisheries. Today, they contribute hundreds of millions of dollars annually for resource management through license fees and excise taxes on fishing tackle. And, unlike commercials, they keep only a tiny fraction of what they catch.

But stopping Pebble Mine near Alaska’s Bristol Bay is one thing that enviros and anglers--- both recreational and commercial-- agree on. Its creation would lead to the devastation of one of the world’s few remaining unspoiled salmon fisheries.

More than 925 angling and hunting groups, as well as related businesses, now are on record as supporting EPA’s assessment of the danger and asking that agency to take the necessary steps to deny permitting for the mine.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post newspaper reports the following:

“Almost all the comments urging the EPA to block the mine have been generated by major environmental groups . . .

“The Natural Resources Defense Council produced 83,095 comments, more than any other group in favor of EPA action, while the Pew Charitable Trusts came in second with 41,158 comments.”

Now here is where you come in. You have until June 30 to voice your opposition to the mine. Go here to do so, and, in the process, enter a contest to win a fishing trip to Bristol Bay.

Thus far, the enviros have done most of the heavy lifting in producing comments. As of May 18, only about 6,000 sportsmen had participated.

In a nation where 60 million people describe themselves as anglers, that’s beyond pathetic.

“Sadly, fishermen have lagged, but not by any lack of effort,” said Scott Hed, director of the Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska. “Keep America Fishing sent out two notices to their massive list. Many other groups and businesses sent action alerts and posted to their Facebook groups, whose collective number of followers is in the millions.”

So, what all of this tells me is that sometimes enviros and anglers can agree on an issue, and that’s a good thing. Maybe one will lead to more.

But it also suggests that we’re going to lose when we oppose them on any issue that requires grassroots support. Almost certainly we outnumber them, but too many anglers are content to just go fishing and leave standing up for our sport to someone else.

Mark my words: Eventually, that’s going to bite us in the butt big time.

Tuesday
Jun042013

Tell Congress That You Support Access Act for Fishing, Hunting

We’re losing our waters. Both development and government regulations--- pushing by anti-fishing groups--- are taking them away. In fact, one in five anglers has lost access to a favorite fishing spot during the past year, according to surveys.

That means federal properties --- lands and waters owned by all of us--- are more important than ever for recreational fishing.

In early 2013, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI) introduced the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act (S. 170, H.R. 1825) into both chambers of Congress. This bill would facilitate the use of, and access to, federal public lands and waters for recreational fishing, hunting and shooting. 

Keep America Fishing says, “To help ensure that current and future generations are able to access and fish in our nation's federal lands and waters, please send a message to your legislators today urging them to co-sponsor this important legislation.”

Go here to take action through Keep America Fishing.

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.