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Entries in Keep America Fishing (56)

Friday
Nov092012

Action Alert! Urge Your Senators to Support Sportsmen's Act

Your help is needed now.

During the next few days, U.S. Senators are expected to vote on the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S. 3525). Designed to benefit sportfishing as well as recreational shooting and hunting, it’s the most comprehensive package of legislation related to the outdoors community in recent years.

The Hunting, Fishing, and Recreational Shooting Protection Act, the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act, and the Making Public Land Public Act are some its most important provisions.

“From improving habitat conservation to increasing public access to protecting the use of traditional fishing tackle, this bill would have monumental impacts on anglers and hunters and maintain our conservation heritage,” says Keep America Fishing.

Go here to learn more and to send a message to your senators, urging them to support the proposed legislation.

Tuesday
Sep252012

Feds Set to Steal Fisheries Funding

As if we needed another reminder that our federal government is broken, the Office of Management and Budget came up with this:

Cut $34 million from the Sport Fish Restoration (SFR) and Boating Trust Fund to help reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion, as required by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

Now, I’m one who believes that virtually every program, including those related to conservation and natural resources, should be on the table to help us get the massive federal debt under control.

But the problem with this recommendation is that the SFR fund is not financed by taxpayers, as are all those other federal expenditures. Anglers pay for this one themselves with excise taxes paid on fishing tackle and motorboat fuel.

To deny any of that money to the states for fisheries management, as it was intended, is theft.

“The angling and boating community was shocked to learn that for the first time in its 62-year history, the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund – the backbone of fisheries conservation in the United States - is recommended for a cut under sequestration totaling $34 million,” said Gordon Robertson, vice president of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA).

 Established in 1950 with the support of industry, anglers, and state conservation agencies, SFR “is an outstanding example of what good government should be and is the backbone of the user-pay model of funding conservation in this nation. It is essential that it remain untouched,” Robertson added.

The Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950 placed a federal excise tax on all recreational fishing equipment, which manufacturers pay and is then incorporated into the cost of the equipment that anglers purchase. In 1984 the Act was amended to include that part of the federal gasoline fuel tax attributable to motor boat use. The total annual value of the Trust Fund is approximately $650 million. The monies from the fund are apportioned to state conservation agencies for sport fish restoration, boating safety, angler and boater access and other fishing and boating programs.

“When anglers and boaters pay the equipment tax or the fuel tax they are doing so with the understanding that this money is going to a trust fund dedicated - by law - to the resources they enjoy,” said Robertson.

“Withholding funds from this essential program at a time when state fishery programs are already struggling to ensure the best quality service to anglers and resource management will only cause fishery resources to suffer even more and cause job losses associated with the loss of recreation fishing boating programs.

“The sportfishing and boating industries, as well as anglers and boaters themselves, fail to understand how cutting a user-pay trust fund helps the economy.”

Recreational fishing adds $125 billion each year to the nation’s economy and supports more than one million jobs. Since its inception, SFR has pumped $7 billion into habitat restoration, access and boating safety programs.

SFR’s hunting counterpart, the Wildlife Restoration Act of 1936, is slated for a $31 million freeze. That program is funded by hunters and men and women who engage in the shooting sports and archery, who pay a similar tax to support wildlife restoration.

“This level of cuts to conservation programs that pay their own way is unprecedented and all anglers, hunters and shooting sports enthusiasts must speak up to prevent these cuts,” Robertson concluded.

Along with these two cornerstone conservation acts, many other critical conservation funds are also listed for significant cuts. Congress, with the cooperation of the Administration, must address the sequestration schedule and this will not occur until after the elections and possibly not until early 2013 and with a new Congress.

Visit Keep America Fishing regularly to keep current about when Congress may act on the SFR recommendation and other fisheries programs and when you should speak up.

And keep this in mind: Many in Washington consider fisheries and conservation “easy marks” for budget cuts. Some don’t recognize their importance. Others believe that anglers simply are not a constituency to be feared or even respected, for that matter.

The only way that the latter will change is for us to show them otherwise.

Tuesday
Sep182012

Candidates Shares Views About Recreational Fishing

Activist Angler sends a respectful “thanks” to Keep America Fishing for asking both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney how they would address fisheries conservation and angler access issues.

“We asked these questions to inform and empower anglers to be active advocates for the sportfishing community” said Gordon Robertson, vice president of the American Sportfishing Association.

 “Anglers represent a huge voting block that can significantly impact the 2012 presidential election. It is vital to the future of sportfishing that anglers are informed and use their vote as a voice.”

The questions addressed to both candidates are good ones. But, alas, both men (or their staffs) answered mostly in generalities and platitudes.

As you can read for yourself, neither man is an angler. But on the plus side for Romney, his vice president running mate, Paul Ryan, is an avid hunter and angler and a member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.

Also on the plus side for Romney, he favors smaller government and less federal intrusion into matters that can be handled by the states. The states have shown remarkable success in managing our fish and wildlife, but Obama’s National Ocean Policy (NOP), if/when fully implemented, could end all of that for fisheries.

Of course, Obama does not view his NOP, fully embraced by preservationists and environmental groups, as a threat to recreational fishing.

“My administration is working to responsibly manage our nation's oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes to ensure that fishermen can access the local waters they care most about and that those waters support healthy, vibrant populations of fish,” he said.

But that “responsible management” includes a huge top-down management system in which federal bureaucrats tell us where we can and cannot fish.

“There has been a lot of talk surrounding the National Ocean Policy, so let me set the record straight: the new policy in no way restricts any ocean, coastal, or Great Lakes activity,” the President also said.

And, you know what? He’s right. The same can be said of California’s Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). It has in no way restricted recreational fishing in that state’s coastal waters.

But you know what else? Those administering the MLPA have used it to shut down fisheries. And the same almost certainly will happen with the NOP if Obama wins a second term.

On the Republican side, Romney was asked about his intent to divert fishing and hunting license fees to other programs when he was governor of Massachusetts. Not a good thing.

His answer was a good one. Here is a part of it:

“I reconsidered the decision to divert license fees after I received input from local stakeholders, both anglers and others, who expressed to me why this decision should be reconsidered,” he said.

“Once I understood what this diversion of funds will do, I reversed course and found another way to leave my state with a $2 million rainy day fund when I left office.

“This is the same attitude I will bring to the presidency. I have a plan to get this economy back on track, but I also understand the importance of hearing our state and local agencies and fishermen themselves when these types of decisions are made."

Read the full interviews here.

Friday
Sep142012

Encourage Your Senators to Support Sportsmen's Act of 2012

Your U.S. senators are expected to vote next week on one of the most comprehensive packages of sportsmen’s legislation in years. Please go here to encourage their support.

“This historic legislation provides for increased access, habitat conservation, and improved fish and wildlife management,” says Keep America Fishing.

Introduced in September, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 includes 19 bills that will benefit sportfishing, as well as hunters and recreational shooters.  It originally was proposed as an amendment to the Farm Bill, but was appropriately ruled non-germane to that legislation.

Now Sen. John Tester of Montana and eight other co-sponsors have introduced this bi-partisan legislation as a stand-alone bill.

Some of the specifics are as follows:

Making Public Lands Public Act – Increases access for angling, hunting and recreational shooting on federal lands by directing 1.5 percent of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to ensure access to fishing, hunting and other recreational activities.

The Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Protection Act – Blocks ongoing attempts to federally ban lead in recreational fishing equipment and ammunition by amending the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Billfish Conservation Act – Conserves declining billfish populations by prohibiting the commercial sale and importation of billfish throughout the U.S., with exceptions for Hawaii and the Pacific Insular Area islands to preserve traditional fishing practices.

National Fish Habitat Conservation Act – Authorizes the National Fish Habitat Partnership, the most comprehensive effort ever attempted to conserve, restore and enhance fish habitat on a range-wide scale.

Artificial Reefs in the Gulf of Mexico – Requires the Department of the Interior to coordinate federal and state efforts in order to maintain idle drilling platforms as valuable artificial fish reefs.

Thursday
Sep132012

Anglers Win, Lose in California

The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) reports good news and bad news from California.

The good news is that strong resistance from California’s recreational fishing community forced lawmakers to remove provisions from state Senate Bill 1148 that would have been devastating.

“Initially introduced into the California legislature to improve how the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) functions, the bill was hijacked by anti-fishing groups and would have striped the DFG of its authority for fishery management in marine closures and placed authority of marine closures in the hands of the Ocean Protection Council, a body effectively controlled by anti-fishing groups who would seek ever greater closures,” ASA says.

“This significant threat was averted thanks to the thousands of anglers who made their concerns known to their legislators through Keep America Fishing.

The bad news: Despite strong opposition, a bill --- AB 2402 --- did pass that will allow private organizations to directly fund programs within DFG. that's an open invitation for corruption and management of public resources by special interests.

See my post from Aug. 12 --- Anti-Fishing Groups Attempt Power Grab in California --- to learn more.