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Entries in President Obama (14)


Obama to Provide More Protection for Multi-Tasking Fish in Pacific

It’s edifying --- and not a little bit frightening --- to check in occasionally on what’s happening with the true believers regarding environmental preservation and animal rights. Incredibly, I found an article online that deals with both.

1. President Obama is going to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument by tenfold, banning fishing and just about any other activity across 782,000 square miles.

By the way, President George W. Bush created this preserve in 2009, but he exempted sport fishing from the ban. That won’t be the case with this president, whose National Ocean Policy is all about “zoning” uses of our oceans, coastal waters, and even inland. In other words, unelected bureaucrats and their friends in the environmental groups with anti-fishing agendas are going to tell us where we can and cannot fish.

Depressingly, I could find only one piece online that voiced concerns for U.S. fishermen--- and that was from an Australian publication, Fishing World. Everything else is glowing PR favoring expansion.

2. Fish can multi-task!

No kidding! I read it in the same article.

Before I explain, allow me to congratulate the person who wrote the headline for this piece. It’s my favorite part of the article. Here it is:

Fish found to have cognitive & cooperative abilities perhaps superior to those of Members of Congress

You’ll get no arguments from me on that.

But then consider this:

“Various studies demonstrate, according to Brown, that fish can ‘perform multiple complex tasks simultaneously,’ an ability that was until recently considered to be uniquely human; ‘have excellent long-term memories,’ including of times, places, locations, social experiences, and aversive situations;   ‘live in complex social communities where they keep track of individuals and can learn from one another, a process that leads to the development of stable cultural traditions…similar to some of those seen in birds and primates’;   ‘show signs of Machiavellian intelligence such as cooperation and reconciliation’; use tools; and ‘use the same methods for keeping track of quantities as we do.’”

That Eisteinian assessment of bass, catfish, and carp comes from Dr. Culum Brown, a biology professor in Australia.

So. . . what else do you suppose that big largemouth was doing at the same time it spied your frog twitching across the surface? Was it playing cards --- I’ll refrain from naming the game --- with friends? Was it picking up its fry from school? Was it also considering a very enticing Texas-rig lizard that your friend was retrieving?

The next time that I catch a bass, I think that I'll ask her.


Feds Join Assault on Bass in Northwest

No evidence exists that big smallmouths like this have contributed to the decline of salmon in the Northwest. But anti-bass bias persists.

That haze you see above the White House is from the smoking gun of anti-angling bias.

Most alarmingly, this time the shot was fired at bass fishing.

That’s right. No longer are saltwater anglers the only ones under assault from an administration just beginning its second term. Now the danger has moved inland, and “plausible deniability” is going to be far less convincing with this latest assault.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is encouraging the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to remove size and bag limits for bass in the Columbia and Snake Rivers and their tributaries. Additionally, it says that an alternate proposal to remove daily limits but limit harvest to three fish over 15 inches “would imply a desire by WDFW to maintain a healthy population of large, non-native predators.”

And, no, we must not have that. Never mind that the Columbia River arguably is one of the top two or three smallmouth bass fisheries in the United States.

And never mind that 25 to 30 percent of anglers in the Northwest now fish for non-native warmwater species, including walleye and channel catfish, as well as bass.

“What we’ve seen the last 20 to 30 years is a noticeable shift in anglers who prefer warmwater fish,” says Jeff Dillon of Idaho Fish and Game. “It was 10 percent.  Now, on a statewide basis, it’s more than 20 percent and, in some regions (southwestern) it’s closer to a third.”

And never mind that anglers who fish for bass recreationally and competitively support Northwest economies by spending millions of dollars annually on tackle, boats, tow vehicles, and travel.

No, no, we must eliminate these non-native fish, even though they have been established in the rivers for decades and even though no evidence exists that they harm native salmon and trout populations through predation. NMFS Regional Administrator William Stelle Jr. says as much in his letter:

“While it is difficult to quantify the magnitude of predation by these species on salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act, predation by these species was noted as an increasing threat in NMFS’ recent 5-year ESA status reviews.”

 He also admits that the outcome from waging war on popular warmwater species is questionable:

“The extent to which a regulation change will affect the harvest of these species and thereby reduce predation rates on at-risk salmon and steelhead population is uncertain . . .”

But, hey, let’s do it anyway, even though stomach surveys of bass show that salmon smolts “don’t even make the top 10” among prey species, according to Mark Byrne, conservation director for the Washington B.A.S.S. Nation.

In truth, dams, development, and agriculture have caused the decline of coldwater fisheries by destroying habitat, degrading water quality, altering flows, and blocking migrations. But bass and bass anglers are high profile and easy targets.

No, no bias here.

Just as there is not in the National Ocean Policy, which would “zone” uses of our oceans and Great Lakes, telling us where we can and can’t fish. Just as there is not in heavy-handed enforcement of the Magnuson-Stevens Marine Fishery and Conservation Act, which has devastated coastal fishing communities. Just as there is not in Catch Shares, a scheme to privatize a public resource and, inevitably, limit access.

In truth, none of these are directly anti-fishing. Neither is the NMFS letter. But what all of them reveal is a disregard for the popularity and importance of recreational fishing and a willingness for sportfishing to be collateral damage in the imposition of a preservationist ideology.

President Obama, meanwhile, told Keep America Fishing:

“My administration is committed to maintaining fishing opportunities for America’s fishermen.”

But that does not seem to be the case for the National Park Service, which has limited angler access at Cape Hatteras National Seashore and now is attempting to do the same at Florida’s Biscayne National Park.

And it certainly does not seem to be the case for the National Marine Fisheries Service, which would like to obliterate one of the nation’s best bass fisheries.

Someone probably should tell the President that.

(A variation of this opinion piece appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)


President, Congress, Supreme Court Also Deserve Blame for Asian Carp Threat

Writing in the Great Lakes Echo, Gary Wilson makes a great point about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers being a convenient scapegoat for fact that Asian carp are perilously close to entering the Great Lakes --- or might have already:

We’re rapidly approaching the three-year anniversary of the discovery of Asian carp environmental DNA past electrical barriers designed to keep the carp out of Lake Michigan. That event triggered massive fish kills, lawsuits, a call for separation of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River and a flood of media exposure that shows no signs of abating.

Since then, the Army Corps of Engineers, proprietors of the barriers, insists they’ve been effective. Lawsuits brought by Michigan and other states requesting definitive and quicker action by the Army Corps continues to wind its way through the legal system. And studies to determine the feasibility and cost of physical separation are in process.

Through it all there has been one consistent theme: Blame the Army Corps of Engineers. Everyone needs a scapegoat it seems, and politicians, environmentalists, and editorial boards have found one in the Corps. The complaints: It’s too slow, bureaucratic, and even “clueless,” according to one editorial writer.

You’ll find no defense of the Corps here. It needs to be held accountable like everyone else. But the Army Corps is only a small part of a big federal picture charged with protecting the Great Lakes from Asian Carp. One policy analyst with years of Great Lakes experience recently made that case. Noah Hall says “all three branches of the federal government aren’t doing the job” when it comes to keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

Read the full story here.


Carp Threat Intensifies as President Plays Politics 

Bighead and silver carp populations dominate rivers in the Mississippi River basin. Will they do the same to the Great Lakes because elected officials failed to act?

DNA from Asian carp recently was confirmed in Lake Erie for the first time. Just as disturbing, though, is that the number of samples testing positive in the Chicago canal system also spiked, meaning that the likelihood increases that the exotic fish are in or about to enter Lake Michigan.

The future of a multi-billion-dollar sport fishery lies in the balance, as does the economic welfare of U.S. and Canadian communities all around the Great Lakes.

In response, our federal government will expedite its study of the problem. Meanwhile, a pathway --- the canal system that connects Lake Michigan to the Illinois River --- remains open for carp to enter the Great Lakes and for an estimated 185 species of exotics to migrate out of the Great Lakes and into the river, which is a part of the massive Mississippi River basin.

But, hey, we shouldn’t worry about it. The feds are “studying” the situation.

This editorial from The Cleveland Plain Dealer does a great job of assessing the situation. Here are a couple of excerpts:

“The latest nonevent in President Barack Obama's attempt to buy time while failing to act to stop the threatened Asian carp invasion of the Great Lakes was his administration's announcement Tuesday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would expedite its action plan.”

“This week's announcement seems more like an election-year ploy to mollify critics furious over Obama's failure to recognize the gravity of the carp threat. These plankton predators are in the Chicago Area Waterway System that connects the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan. Without urgent action, it is only a matter of time until they lay waste to the Great Lakes' multibillion-dollar commercial and sports fishing industry and the 800,000 jobs it supports.”


National Park Service Didn't Get the Memo About Reconnecting Americans with the Outdoors

Are you familiar with President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative? It’s intended to “reconnect Americans” with the outdoors through activities such as recreational fishing.

Obviously some within his own administration do not know --- or care --- about it.

Otherwise, how does one explain the National Park Service’s anti-fishing bias, as exhibited by its restriction of access at Cape Hatteras National Seashore and, more recently, Biscayne National Park in Florida?

To learn more, read my Oct. 28 post: Activist Anglers Needed to Oppose Anti-Fishing Policy for Biscayne National Park.

And here is what Noreen Clough, national conservation director for B.A.S.S., says:

“Despite the opposition from numerous stakeholders and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the recently released Draft General Management Plan (GMP) for Florida's Biscayne National Park proposes to close over 20 percent of its public waters to recreational fishing and other activities - just another example, like the Park Service ORV policy on Cape Hatteras National Seashore, that anglers and others are simply a public inconvenience. 

“That this is an untenable and arrogant stance for a public land management agency to take is an understatement. It is also the proverbial ‘camel's nose under the tent.’ Where will Park Service go from here --- to challenge access to the outstanding bass fishing in the Everglades?”

In establishing the program awhile back, the President said the following:

“The goals of the Initiative shall be to:

“Reconnect Americans, especially children, to America's rivers and waterways, landscapes of national significance, ranches, farms and forests, great parks, and coasts and beaches by exploring a variety of efforts, including:

“(A) promoting community-based recreation and conservation, including local parks, greenways, beaches, and waterways;

“(B) advancing job and volunteer opportunities related to conservation and outdoor recreation; and

“(C) supporting existing programs and projects that educate and engage Americans in our history, culture, and natural bounty.”

And in a recent press release about establishment of the Fort Monroe National Monument in Virginia, the Department of Interior (DOI) said:

“As part of that launch, Secretary (Ken) Salazar will participate in a live web chat, where he will answer your questions about the America's Great Outdoors initiative, Ft. Monroe National Monument, and how conservation and outdoor recreation initiatives are strong economic engines for our nation's economy.”

The DOI is correct. Outdoor recreation is a strong economic engine for our economy. And the President’s intent is admirable.

It’s too bad that the National Park Service isn’t a partner in this, instead of an advocate for denying access and limiting participation.