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Entries in Marine Life Protection Act (9)


Anti-Fishing Groups Attempt Power Grab in California

Based on the Civil War, states aren’t allowed to secede. But I’m wondering if we can evict them.

If so, I’d like to start with California. Considering what’s happening out there right now, on so many fronts, it would be best to become 49 states before the rest of us are further infected with Left Coast insanity.

That’s especially true for management of natural resources, including fisheries.

First, California enacted the Marine Life Protection Act. It has resulted in recreational fishing being banned --- with no scientific justification --- in many of the state’s coastal waters. And it serves as the perfect example of what the Obama Administration hopes to achieve with its National Ocean Policy.

Now, incredibly, the California legislature is considering two bills that would allow California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to partner with well-financed nonprofits, many of which have made it their mission to end recreational fishing.

Not coincidentally, these bills also would take away the Fish and Game Commission’s regulatory power over marine protected areas and listing of threatened and endangered species and give it to the now-compromised DFG. In effect, the nonprofit, anti-fishing groups would control fisheries management.

“This could result in nonprofit partners making important decisions that further limit fishing access to public waters without any public forum or transparency in the process,” according to Keep America Fishing (KAF)

The bills originally were intended to improve how the department operates. “But special interest groups have succeeded in amending the bills to include provisions detrimental to anglers,” KAF added.

And the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans says this:

“SB 1148 and AB 2402 were strategically designed as companion bills to deny California’s recreational anglers a voice in fisheries management and conservation. These bills remove an important part of the checks and balances that are integral to the policymaking process, and grant unaccountable department employees unrestricted powers currently reserved for the California Fish and Game Commission.

“The Commission is a body represented by members of the public appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the California State Senate. Through monthly meetings and extensive public review processes, the Commission operates in a transparent manner and its members are accountable to the public.

“Should this power grab occur, recreational anglers and boaters will no longer have a public forum at which to petition their government on controversial issues such as Marine Protected Areas, fish stocking regulations, endangered species and other issues that have a profound impact on sportfishing.

“These two bills combined make significant changes to the mission and scope of the DFG, and reduces the transparency and openness of the Department.”

If you’re a California angler, go here to oppose this power grab by anti-fishing groups.

And if you live in another state, be warned: What starts in California eventually will threaten your fisheries as well. 


Opposition to National Ocean Policy Welcomed

Check out this piece in Roll Call about the House trying to slow down implementation of the National Ocean Policy, a Big Government scheme that could limit recreational fishing.

Here’s an especially interesting excerpt:

Ocean Conservancy’s May 24 Roll Call op-ed referred to a “gross overreaction” among those who support a time-out and suggested that concerns about prohibitions on fishing activity are unfounded.

Concerns about the potential for the policy to lead to new and unnecessary marine access and use restrictions, however, are real and based in part on past experience.

In California, Ocean Conservancy played a big role in the implementation of the state’s Marine Life Protection Act, a marine zoning process that resulted in about 20 percent of our state waters becoming marine reserves or other forms of marine protected areas.

Most of the funding for this process was provided by large nongovernmental organizations and foundations, and many direct participants observed that this led to excessive NGO influence on policy interpretation, inadequate scientific peer review, the refusal to integrate MPA proposals with existing fishery management and the failure to screen science team members for conflicts of interest.

Given that Ocean Conservancy touts the supposed benefits of “highly protected marine reserves, where fishing is prohibited,” it is not surprising that it pushed for the maximum closures and largely disregarded the needs of fishermen and coastal communities.


If I Wanted America to Fail . . .

I would transform the environmental agenda from a document of conservation to an economic suicide pact.  I would concede entire industries to our economic rivals by imposing regulations that cost trillions.  I would celebrate those who preach environmental austerity in public while indulging a lavish lifestyle in private.

The paragraph above is from an essay (both in print and on video) at Free Market America. Check it out.

It speaks to the same mentality that threatens the future of recreational fishing via the Marine Life Protection Act in California and the National Ocean Council and Policy nationally.

Those who follow this ideology believe that we exist apart from nature instead of as part of it, and they want to preserve it from human intrusion. If they have their way, you’ll see more and more “marine protected areas,” “marine preserves,” and “no fishing zones” on our public waters.

Here’s some background about the essay:

“Based on Paul Harvey’s seminal essay, ‘If I were the devil,’ Free Market America’s provocative video-letter to America rings with the same thoughtful intensity.  ‘If I wanted America to fail’ addresses the perilous side-effects of hitching our nation’s economic well-being to the bandwagon of environmental extremism.”


Congress Tries to Slow Big-Government Takeover of Public Waters

Some in Congress are standing up for anglers and against a Big-Government power grab that would restrict public access to our oceans, Great Lakes, and even inland waters.

In the latest move in this high-stakes chess game, the House National Resources Committee has asked the Appropriations Committee to include language in each appropriations bill to prohibit funding for the National Ocean Policy (NOP).

“The Natural Resources Committee has undertaken oversight over this far-reaching policy and the lack of information provided by the Administration raises serious concerns --- particularly about the funding for the implementation of the policy and the negative impact on existing activities by agencies implementing the policy,” wrote Washington Rep. Doc Hastings, chair of the Natural Resources Committee.

“The President’s policy is especially alarming due to the fact it will not only affect the oceans and coastal areas, but also stretches far inland, following rivers and tributaries upstream for hundreds of miles.”

Implemented without Congressional approval, the NOP provides the blueprint for a massive top-down bureaucracy that will oversee “spatial planning” of our aquatic resources, starting in offshore and coastal waters. 

In other words, it will zone uses, telling us where we can and cannot fish, among other activities.

Stated intention is to reduce user conflicts. In reality the NOP is just one more attempt by this administration to control as much of our lives as possible, and, it if it is allowed to stand, will be death-by-a-thousand-cuts for recreational angling. Slowly but certainly, one fishery after another will be closed by federal edict, similar to what is happening now in California as the Marine Life Protection Act is implemented.

 “As you know, a number of our colleagues have significant concerns with the National Ocean Policy, which was created through an Executive Order and without specific statutory authority,” Hastings began in his April 2 letter.

“The increased bureaucracy created by the Executive Order is astonishing,” he continued, and then listed the following: 

  • A 27-member National Ocean Council
  • An 18-member Governance Coordinating Committee
  • 10 National Policies
  • 9 Regional Planning Bodies --- each involving as many as 27 federal agencies as well as states and tribes
  • 9 National Priority Objectives
  • 9 Strategic Action Plans
  • 7 National Goals for Coastal Marine Spatial Planning
  • 12 Guiding Principles for Coastal Marine Spatial planning

“In addition, the draft National Ocean Plan Implementation lists more than 100 outcomes, actions, and milestones for federal agencies to comply with beginning in 2011 and 2012,” Hastings said.

This latest move to slow down the NOP steamroller follows an attempt by Hastings to extend the time for public comments on the policy by 90 days. When the Obama Administration refused, Hastings issued the following:

“President Obama issued an Executive Order imposing a new bureaucracy to zone the oceans that threatens to deter new economic investment, suppress job creation, restrict even recreational fishing, block energy development, and stretch far from the shore to affect farmers and inland communities.

“Given the high economic stakes, the vast amounts of new red-tape set to be unrolled, and the fact that some 15 agencies spent over two years devising this scheme, it’s unreasonable that the Obama Administration won’t allow the American people more than just 75 days to review and comment on it.

“This refusal to allow a thorough and open review of the plan to carry-out the President’s Executive Order is another example of the Obama Administration prioritizing its job-destroying agenda over the livelihoods of Americans from coast to coast.”

Meanwhile, a coalition of fishing organizations issued its comments regarding the plan on March 27, making essentially the same recommendations that it has been making since 2009, when the Obama Administration created the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, a precursor to the National Ocean Council.

Mostly, those requests on behalf of recreational fishing and the North American system of conservation funding have been ignored throughout the process that has followed. But occasionally bureaucrats have feigned interest in what the American Sportfishing Association, the Coastal Conservation Association, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and others have to say.

Among those recommendations: 

  • Recognize recreational fishing as a priority use.
  • Recognize that anglers and boaters are leaders in fisheries conservation through the excise taxes that they pay on equipment and fuel to fund the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund.
  • Clarify the difference between recreational and commercial fishing.
  • Improve data system for stock allocations.

“As a coalition of recreational fishing conservation organizations, we are deeply concerned with the current political climate surrounding our nation’s waters. Recreational fishing and boating are longstanding American traditions with numerous benefits to offer our nation,” said the coalition, which also includes the Center for Coastal Conservation, the International Game Fish Association, The Billfish Foundation, and the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

“We hope that you will consider our comments and incorporate changes to reflect our concerns in the final Implementation Plan.”

While I admire the coalition for its relentless efforts to defend recreational angling by working through the system, I doubt that the Obama Administration will pay much attention to its concerns. The people in power now are pursuing an ideologically driven vision of the United States, in which Big Government rules and people should exist apart from nature, not as a part of it.

In short, they don’t want us fishing, just as they don’t want us drilling, don’t want us eating fatty foods, and don’t want us thinking for ourselves. The only way to stop them is to vote them out in November.




Angler Support Needed to Save Fishing in California

The Partnership for Sustainable Oceans (PSO) and other sport fishing advocates are continuing the fight against recreational fishing closures established by California’s Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA).

On Jan. 30, the California Court of Appeals ruled in favor of allowing a challenge by the Coastside Fishing Club to go forward.

In response, lawyers for the California Fish and Game Commission asked the court to dismiss Coastside’s appeal on grounds that it was premature. The court denied the commission's request without comment.

"Now that the MLPA regulations have gone into effect in Southern California, I hope anglers fully recognize the significant threat these unwarranted closures pose to the future of saltwater fishing in California,” said John Gaebel, chairman of United Anglers of Southern California.

“Fortunately the battle is not over yet, as the legal challenge continues to move forward in the Court of Appeals. Now, more than ever, we need folks to step up and contribute as much as they can to help us keep up the fight.”

To raise funds for the legal challenge, the PSO is urging anglers, boaters and anyone interested in a fair legal process to visit Save CA Fishing and contribute to the effort. Under the “Donate” section of the site, individuals can contribute $5 or more a month on a recurring basis, or make a one-time donation. All proceeds will directly support legal action to keep California’s healthy and abundance coastal waters open to sportfishing.