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Entries in Keep America Fishing (53)

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.

Wednesday
May012013

Help Protect Angler Access in Everglades

Which fishery will freshwater anglers lose first? Lake Erie? Lake Okeechobee? Lake Amistad? The Potomac River?

Unless we stand tall and push back assertively, we’re going to lose access to at least a portion of one of these or some other notable freshwater fishery in the years to come. You can count on it.

Preservationists and their close allies in this administration do not want us fishing on public waters, and they are going to use the National Ocean Policy and the National Park Service (NPS) to deny us access wherever they can.

Thus far, the focus has been on saltwater, notably Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Biscayne Bay.

But with this latest assault on access at Everglades National Park, they are moving their focus inland. A NPS proposal  for managing the park would prohibit combustion engines in about 80,000 acres of the eastern Everglades, south of the Tamiami Trail. In other words, it would create de facto no-fishing zones in much of Florida Bay.

“Boaters would be allowed to use push poles or trolling motors in these areas, but because many of these areas are several miles wide and lack channels or corridors for motorized access, many popular fishing areas would become virtually inaccessible,” says Keep America Fishing.

And the Miami Herald reported this:

“Said David Olsen, board member of the angling group CCA-Florida, to park officials at Tuesday’s meeting:

‘There’s growing concern in the angling community . . . a lot of people frankly believe you don’t want us there.’”

That’s correct. Disdain and/or disregard for recreational fishing permeate this administration.

What can you do about it? Speak out. Go here to do so.

Keep America Fishing offers this sample letter:

As an angler and conservationist, I fully support efforts to restore and conserve the magnificent natural resources in Everglades National Park. I want to ensure that current and future generations have the ability to enjoy this national treasure.

I am concerned, however, that the proposed management actions in the draft General Management Plan would unnecessarily restrict public access to large areas of the park’s waters far beyond what is needed for resource protection. In particular, the pole and troll zones proposed in the park’s preferred alternative are so large and lacking in sufficient access corridors that the majority of these areas would become de facto closures. Closing these prime fishing areas would burden anglers and hurt local recreational fishing-dependent businesses.

It is my understanding that several local fishing organizations have provided a detailed set of maps that identify existing boating access corridors in relation to the proposed pole and troll zones. I strongly urge you to incorporate these concepts for improved access into the management plan.

I am also concerned with complications that may result from the proposed mandatory boater education program. While I support improved boater education, rather than enacting a mandatory boater education program specifically for Everglades National Park that has different requirements from surrounding federal and state waters, I believe that federal agencies and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission should work to develop a boater education program that would apply to all appropriate federally managed areas in Florida.

Thank you for your consideration.

Go to this Everglades National Park website to learn more.