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Entries in Keep America Fishing (55)

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.

Tuesday
Apr162013

Anglers Achieve Access Victory in Maryland

Keep America Fishing is calling Maryland’s recent passage of HB 797 “a tremendous victory for anglers.”

That’s because the bipartisan legislation requires state and local transportation departments to consider providing, where reasonable and cost-effective, waterway access in roadway construction or reconstruction projects.

“Maryland’s 10,000 miles or rivers and streams, as well as its 4,000 miles of tidal shoreline, can be difficult to access because adjacent roads and bridges can lack safe shoulders, pull-off areas or parking,” KAF said. “These areas often were constructed without regard to access and angler safety. Oftentimes access can be provided at minimal or no cost, but is not incorporated in project planning.”

Learn more here.

Monday
Mar182013

New Hampshire Latest Front for Loon-atic Assault on Fishing

In case you missed it, preservationists and their political allies in New Hampshire are pushing for a broader lead ban as part of an ongoing campaign to restrict recreational fishing. They profess that their objective is to protect loons. It is not, as no evidence indicates that loon populations are at risk because the birds ingest lead fishing tackle.

This is part of the same offensive that includes an attempt to ban the use of plastic baits in Maine, as well as implement “marine protected areas” in the nation’s coastal waters, where fishing would not be allowed. Some also are using concerns about the spread of invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels --- real threats--- as means to force restrictions on access to inland waters. 

Recreational fishing is under assault, no doubt about it. And you can either help defend it or stick your head in the sand until it’s too late.

New Hampshire Senate Bill 89 would ban the use of any lead sinker or jig weighing 1 ounce or less. That would make use of just about any small fishing lure illegal in state waters.

Keep America Fishing makes these points:

  • This bill would expand an already restrictive policy on the use of lead jigs with no scientific data to back up such a ban.
  • The ban would have a significant negative impact on the state’s economy and fisheries conservation, but a negligible impact on the waterfowl populations it seeks to protect. In fact, New Hampshire’s loon population is increasing.
  • This ban is more restrictive than the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s levels for lead in paint, children’s toys, plumbing fixtures and non-toxic shot for waterfowl hunting.
  • Technology does not permit manufacturers to supply alternative metals 100 percent free of lead so the practical impact of the legislation is to ban all sinkers and jigs less one ounce or less.
  • This size range represents the most commonly used sinkers.

And it adds, “By banning lead completely the state is effectively banning fishing!

“Join us by signing the petition and protect recreational fishing by stopping this overly restrictive and unrealistic ban on fishing tackle!”

 Go here to voice your opposition.

Friday
Feb222013

Anti-Angling Bias in D.C. Remains a Threat

As they quietly go about their business behind closed doors in Washington, D.C., politicians and bureaucrats within the Obama Administration pose a significant threat to the future of fishing. It’s not easy to keep up with what they’re doing, but fortunately the Activist Angler has a trusted source for information about the anti-fishing movement.  

He has just provided me with a disturbing reminder that those who want to tell us where we can and cannot fish in public waters remain colossally ignorant and/or colossally disdainful of recreational angling.

They remain so despite attempts at educating them about the importance and value of recreational fishing by the American Sportfishing Association, Center for Coastal ConservationCongressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, and other organizations.

What’s the latest evidence?

It resides within the National Marine Protected Areas Center website maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which has been pushing a preservationist, anti-fishing agenda for four years. Much of that agenda focuses on zoning uses of our oceans and the waters that connect to them, courtesy of a National Ocean Policy created by Executive Order.

In categorizing those uses, anonymous bureaucrats have come up with four general categories: Recreation & Culture; Fishing, Hunting & Gathering; Energy; and Other Maritime Activities.

Now, “recreational fishing” is called that for a reason. It’s a form of recreation, with minimal harvest and minimal impact on fisheries stocks. Additionally, nearly 60 million Americans call themselves anglers, and they spend hundreds of millions dollars annually pursuing their pastime, with much of that money benefiting fisheries conservation.

Fisheries advocates have been hammering this message to the administration since President Obama took office. But blindly following their preservationist ideology, the bureaucrats pay lip service to the distinction and then go on about their business of ignoring it.

In other words, recreational angling is not listed in the Recreation & Culture category. Instead, it is paired with commercial fishing in the Fishing, Hunting & Gathering category.

“Only NOAA could lump fishing with a rod and reel into the same category as dredging and trawling – and to think we pay for this!” says my source.

And we’re going to pay additionally for it with reduced access unless we unite in advocacy through Keep America Fishing and other groups and unless we make sure that our members of Congress are educated and stepping up to protect our rights.