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Entries in National Ocean Council (59)

Wednesday
Oct292014

Council 'Shafts' Recreational Anglers as It Creates Sector Separation

As the Fishing Rights Alliance (FRA) so eloquently put it, recreational anglers “just got the shaft.”

That’s because the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council ignored the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) and massive opposition from the public to pass Amendment 40, which creates “sector separation” for the red snapper fishery.

The recreational quota for red snapper in federal waters now will be divided between “for-hire” and private anglers. And guess who’s getting the lion’s share of that quota?

“While the council's vote created the two new components, the recreational sector's 5.39 million-pounds share of the 11 million-pounds Gulfwide red snapper quota will not be split right down the middle,” says Al.com

“Preliminary estimates suggest the for-hire component will be allocated about 40 percent of the total, based on 50 percent of their landings between 1986 and 2013 and 50 percent between 2006 and 2013.”

In other words, if you are an angler with your own boat, you might as well forget about fishing for red snapper in the Gulf for at least the next three years.

"It's very disappointing that you have this level of opposition from anglers, elected officials, state fishery managers and even within the charter industry itself and it still wasn't enough to prevent this flawed management plan from moving forward," says Ted Venker, Conservation Director of the Coastal Conservation Association.

But not at all surprising, coming from an administration that wants to regulate every aspect of our lives, including when and where we can fish. That was evident early on when President Obama created the National Ocean Council, with the intent to “zone” uses of our waters, including inland. And when NOAA began pushing Catch Shares as a management strategy for our fisheries.

Catch Shares basically privatizes a public resource, and “segment separation” is a tactic that the feds used to divide and conquer the recreational sector, as some charter captains bought into the idea. (Catch Shares, though, isn't yet being used to manage red snapper.)

The FRA, however, says, “This ain’t over until we say it’s over,” and vows to fight the amendment. Go here to join the fight.

Here’s an excerpt of the CSC’s letter to the Council:

The suddenly accelerated speed at which the Council seeks to subdivide the recreational red snapper fishery into two individual components or “sectors” is unacceptable for an action that will likely have far reaching impacts on local communities, the economy, state-based conservation funding, thousands of recreational anglers, and ultimately the charter/for-hire industry for which it is meant to help.

A decision of this magnitude requires careful deliberation and calculated safeguards to ensure that the best interest of the American public is first and foremost. Furthermore, there are several concerns regarding

potential statutory violations that must be fully explored and resolved before moving forward with any such fundamental change to the interpretation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the way we manage marine recreational fisheries in the United States.

We fear thorough analysis of these concerns has not been sufficiently undertaken by NOAA Fisheries or the Council relative to Amendment 40.

It is difficult to understand why red snapper management is so unique that it requires such a radical departure from methods that have successfully managed the vast majority of our fish and terrestrial wildlife resources. Indications are that the red snapper stock is recovering well ahead of schedule, which suggests that the current problems with red snapper are not biological, but rather man-made.

It appears that some failure of our federal fisheries policy is producing a system in which access to a healthy fishery resource is being funneled through fewer and fewer entities. Unnecessarily restricting public access to a sustainable resource is an undesirable and untenable result for any wildlife resource management system, and one that should be avoided at all costs.

 

Thursday
Jul102014

Feds Slash Season for Red Snapper

“Environmental organizations, who have infiltrated our federal government -- they are hell-bent on reducing the fleet of fishermen.” --- Capt. Bob Zales

Back in 2009,  I started warning the nation’s anglers about the dangers posed to the future of fishing by the Obama Administration. Many of those threats center around the National Ocean Council and Catch Shares. But anti-fishing sentiment pervades this administration in general, as Zales, a Florida charter captain, points out in the aftermath of the feds reducing the red snapper season from 40 days to 9.

Zales made the comments in a Fox News article about the closure.

"I already had the boats sold out for the season and then I had to cancel those trips because I couldn't provide the service," added  Capt. Mark Hubbard.

From Fox: “Hubbard and other fishermen point out that the number of red snapper this year is the highest in decades, and say the regulation is purely bureaucratic and not really about protecting fish. The recreational fishing industry employs an estimated 150,000 people along the Gulf and pumps some $7 billion into the local economies, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. In 2012, more than 3.1 million recreational anglers took 23 million fishing trips in the Gulf of Mexico region.”

Here’s what I wrote in February 2010 for ESPN Outdoors:

Environmental groups enthusiastically support federal management of our fisheries, starting with the oceans, coastal waters, and Great Lakes. They now are pressuring President Barack Obama to by-pass Congressional oversight and public discussion and instead issue an Executive Order, endorsing the recommendations of his Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force and creation of a massive federal bureaucracy.

This should come as no surprise, since members in many of these organizations favor creation of “marine protected areas,” where all uses --- including recreational angling --- are banned. Almost certainly they envision these being an integral part of the “spatial planning” strategy created by the task force and to be enforced by a National Ocean Council.

What might come as a surprise, though, is that these same groups produced a “wish list” document, Transition to Green, shortly after Obama’s election. And what has happened since, starting with the President’s creation of the task force, suggests that this special interest group --- with little to no public input --- is controlling public policy on a staggering scale.

Who wrote that document and who is determining the future of fishing in federal waters these days? Here’s the list:

AMERICAN RIVERS - CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

CLEAN WATER ACTION- DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE - EARTHJUSTICE -

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA - ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND - FRIENDS OF THE EARTH

GREENPEACE - IZAAK WALTON LEAGUE - LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS

NATIONAL AUDUBON SOCIETY - NATIONAL PARKS CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION

NATIONAL TRIBAL ENVIRONMENTAL COUNCIL - NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION

NATIVE AMERICAN RIGHTS FUND - NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL - OCEANA

OCEAN CONSERVANCY - PEW ENVIRONMENT GROUP

PHYSICIANS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY - POPULATION CONNECTION

POPULATION ACTION INTERNATIONAL

RAILS-TO-TRAILS CONSERVANCY - SIERRA CLUB - THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY

THE TRUST FOR PUBLIC LAND - UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS

WORLD WILDLIFE FUND

Tuesday
Jul082014

Pew Accused of Using 'Fake' Anglers to Promote No-Fishing Zone

In Australia, preservationist groups have been accused of using “fake” anglers to endorse a massive no-fishing zone in the Coral Sea.  One of those is Pew, also an advocate for similar restrictions in U.S. marine waters.

If they are using this tactic, I am not at all surprised. For these people, the end--- imposing their Big Government world view--- justifies the means, and facts mean little. It’s all about appealing to emotion. It’s all about providing a place where fish “can have a safe home.”

According to Fishing World, Pew counters that the “anglers” featured in a brochure promoting the closure were volunteers.

“If they are also members or supporters of other environment groups, such as Greenpeace, it’s not something Pew is aware of and is really their choice,” a Pew spokesman said.

Read more here.

In this country, meanwhile, Pew, the Environmental Defense Fund, and others are coordinating efforts with the Obama Administration to restrict access through Catch Shares and “zoning” of uses in our waters by the National Ocean Council. You can learn more about both through the Activist Angler search window at top right.

Friday
May092014

Halibut Fishery Casualty of Catch Shares

One of the reasons that I founded this website back in 2011 was to warn against Big Government attempts to restrict/prohibit recreational fishing. The National Ocean Council, which will “zone” uses of oceans, coastal waters, and, eventually inland, is one of the cornerstones. The other is Catch Shares, which privatizes a public resource, limiting participation.

To learn more just do a search for those topics on this site and you will learn plenty.

I haven’t written about either for awhile. But Brian Bondioli recently penned a great letter in response to this article.  Thanks to the Florida Guides Association for alerting me to this.

Here’s the letter:

The privatization of the public resources through catch shares is a bad deal for everybody and everything. Here in AK, catch shares have resulted in hostility, animosity, and violence in our communities. Furthermore, and most importantly, catch shares have NOT resulted in a healthy sustainable halibut resource. They have allowed the commercial fishing fleet to absolutely destroy what was the last great fishery in the US.

The political energy of the Commercially dominated (98% comfish/2% rec) NPFMC and IPHC has been entirely focused on creating a financial investment market for the sole benefit of the longline fleet (and commercial fishing interests) and the detriment of the Alaskan communities, charter fishing businesses, and, most significantly, the halibut resource.

As the "regulators" have spent all of their energy eliminating nearly 50% of the charter fleet and soon 50% of the recreational angling opportunities, they have spent Zero effort to manage commercial fishing practices, resulting in a fisheries induced evolution toward exponentially fewer and smaller halibut.

As the "regulators" have spent all of this time manipulating "the process" under the guise of conservation, those same "regulators" and their cronies have been day trading halibut quota and making millions of dollars.

Interestingly, the same Linda Behnken mentioned in the article (when chair of the NPFMC) spearheaded the implementation of commercial quota shares in Alaska. She also submitted the first (and most of the subsequent) proposals/s to implement charter IFQs. She is/has been the president of ALFA (Alaska Fishermen’s Longline Association) as well as an advocate/employee/"unofficial lobbyist" for the MAJOR corporations in Seattle and Portland that own the majority of halibut quota shares in Alaska.

"We shouldn't be issuing control of our fisheries and access to our fisheries away from communities and to multinational corporations. It's a no-brainer," says Linda Behnken, the vice chair of the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, which works to strengthen fishing communities.

The real irony is that Linda Behnken has been the driving force behind "issuing control of our fisheries and access to our fisheries away from communities". She and her cronies have worked very hard to make sure that they have complete control over who can and cannot purchase quota share opportunities in Alaska.

The new Alaskan Catch Sharing Plan is designed around a program to reallocate recreational angling opportunities to force an artificial marketplace in which recreational anglers must pay longliners to harvest halibut. However, they only want to allow the new shift by their own rules.

For example, they have made sure to stress that those purchase/lease opportunities may only be done on a small scale to ensure that bequests or investments by wealthy recreational interests cannot get "an upper hand" to ensure the future of recreational angling for halibut in Alaska. It's OK for commercial fishermen to make millions day trading quota. It's OK for major corporations in Seattle/Portland to control and own the majority of halibut quota. Everything is OK, as long as recreational anglers and charter businesses struggle to survive and have to pay the commercial fleet to "get by".

It's OK for Linda's employers and cronies to make hundreds of millions while decimating the halibut resource.......as long as they are in control. There must have been a loophole somewhere that she didn't see coming.

Even though Magnuson/Stevens specifically prohibits outright ownership of a public resource, the Alaskan halibut IFQ program, the NPFMC/IPHC, and the new Catch "Sharing" Plan has done exactly that.

Catch Shares are a BAD deal. They are devastating to the communities, devastating to the resource and have pretty much completely destroyed everything except the commercial longliners and processors financial portfolios.

I shall forever be opposed to Catch Shares and will never personally support them.

I have personally seen the sector separation and quota share programs destroy many lives/communities/businesses and the resource. 

Sunday
Dec222013

Anglers Win Access Battle in Australia

Good news for anglers everywhere: Our brothers and sisters in Australia won a huge victory for public access.

And there’s an important message here for U.S. fishermen: Get involved in the political process. Aussie anglers wouldn’t have won if they had just gone fishing instead of fighting back.

Here’s an excerpt from the report in Fishing World, and please note the mention of Pew:

“We are pleased the Coalition Government has listened to Australia’s recreational fishers and are conducting a scientific review of the proposal, which will give a sensible balance for Australia’s unique marine environment,” said Allan Hansard of the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation.

“It was clear that the decisions to ‘lock’ recreational fishers out of vast areas of our seas by the previous government was not scientifically based and was done to meet a political agenda.”

The Government’s marine parks announcement marks an historic win by the recreational fishing sector against powerful international environment groups, including the US-based Pew organisation which spent millions of dollars in its failed attempt to ban fishing across huge swathes of Australian territorial waters.

Meanwhile, here’s things are not going so well in the United States. President Obama’s National Ocean Council is moving ahead with plants to “zone” uses of our oceans, telling us where we can and cannot fish. And in Maine, officials are considering a proposal by anti-fishing advocates who want to ban plastic baits.

Down in Georgia, a fishing editor said this:

Fishing is a way of life for millions of Americans. It’s a pastime all can enjoy, as well as a multi-billion-dollar industry through the sale of boats and motors, fishing tackle and even live bait.

The state of Maine, though, seems hell-bent on becoming the nation’s first anti-fishing state, according to a news release from Keep America Fishing.

Not long ago, the state legislature voted to impose restrictions and downright bans on the use of lead-headed jigs and lead sinkers, claiming the loon population was being adversely affected by ingesting that tackle while diving for bait fish.

Earlier this year, Maine’s Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife called for a study to determine the effects of soft plastic lures on fish. Maine’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department is using online research, ice angling reports and litter assessments to determine if there are adverse effects on fish . . . 

Legislation introduced during early 2013 legislative sessions called for the outright ban of soft plastic lures.

The state study also includes the impact of hooks! What a waste of time! If soft baits are banned, what’s next?

I’m glad I live where I live!