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Entries in National Ocean Council (58)

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!

Friday
Sep272013

Help Keep America Fishing

Surf anglers at Cape Hatteras. Photo from Outer Banks Preservation Association.

As a kid, I didn’t just love to fish.

I lived to fish.

Over the years --- and usually fishing --- I’ve met many who felt the same way about their childhood.

Reading comments on Facebook and in fishing forums, I can see that many adults never outgrow that feeling. That’s good.

In fact, the world would be a better place if more people felt that way.

I’m not talking about forsaking a family, giving up a job, and throwing away responsibility to go fishing 24/7. I’m talking about recognizing the value of fishing for relaxation, enjoyment of nature, and as a dangling carrot to get you from Monday to Friday. I’m talking about time spent with children and grandchildren that allows you to share knowledge and experience, as well as pass on the passion for a wholesome activity that has brought you so much happiness.

Sadly, many who do not fish are rising to power in all levels of government. They come from a background that says preservation --- look but don’t touch --- is better than conservation --- sustainable use of a resource through good stewardship. Some are adamantly anti-fishing, with close ties to extreme environmental groups. Others simply give no thought or value to recreational fishing and would consider its demise an acceptable loss for implementation of their agendas.

What can be we about this? Well, we could take them fishing. That really is the best solution. But we might have to abduct some of them to get them out of their cubicles, and that could get complicated and messy and charges might be filed.

The alternative is to organize and stand strong for recreational fishing. I know, I know: Fishing is your escape from things like organizing and standing strong. It takes you back to childhood, when living to fish was pure and uncomplicated.

I understand and respect that feeling. But I also know that neglecting to defend what you love against an overzealous enemy is the surest way to lose it.

The irony is that those of us who fish --- about 40 million annually --- far outnumber those who would take it away. But the latter are committed to a preservationist agenda, while we who fish are committed to fishing more than we are protecting our right to fish.

Or at least that’s the way that it has been.

“We’re the biggest recreational sporting group in the country, but we’ve hardly been organized enough to tie our shoes,” said Bob Eakes, owner of Red Drum Tackle in Buxton, N.C.

Eakes and his business were among the first casualties in this war against recreational fishing, where many of the early volleys are being fired at saltwater anglers. Under the guise of protecting birds and turtles, the National Park Service (NPS) elected to side with three environmental groups and shut down access to nearly half of the world-famous surf fishery at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The battle to reclaim that fishery is still going on, but there’s no doubt that the NPS is no friend to recreational fishermen.

“Twenty-one national parks are waiting to see how this plays out,” Eakes explained. “And we’re starting to see issues in freshwater as well.”

On inland fisheries thus far, recreational fishing is being attacked mostly by groups who want to ban lead fishing tackle and associations and municipalities who use concerns about the spread of invasive species to shut down access.

But more is on the way. By executive order, the new federal National Ocean Council can decide where you can and cannot fish on oceans, coastal waters, and the Great Lakes, and it has the authority to extend its reach inland to rivers and lakes.

That’s why your support for the Keep America Fishing  campaign is so vitally needed. “No one has been trumpeting the message that the public’s right to fish is at stake. But with Keep America Fishing (KAF), we now have a way to do that,” said Eakes.

Garnering more than 43,000 messages of opposition from anglers, KAF helped defeat an attempt to impose a national ban on lead fishing tackle in 2010.

Go there to learn about the issues, get involved, and make a donation. Also, buy KAF’s “FISH!” stickers from your favorite retailers.

“Keep America Fishing is helping keep anglers informed about what matters to us all,” said Phil Morlock, director of environmental affairs for Shimano.

“Ninety-four percent of Americans approve of fishing, but some folks want to stop it,” said Gordon Robertson of the American Sportfishing Association.

“We have to fight to protect recreational fishing and Keep America Fishing gives anglers a way to help do that.”

(A variation of this article was published previously in B.A.S.S. Times.)