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Entries in recreational fishing (57)

Thursday
Jul312014

Sport Fishing Advocate Retires With Warning for Anglers

Gordon Robertson, retiring vice president and lead for government affairs at American Sportfishing Association

First, I was saddened to learn that recreational fishing’s champion in Washington, D.C., was retiring, effective June 30. Then he told me something that disturbed me even more.

“The angler’s image as a conservationist needs to be rescued,” said Gordon Robertson, who officially stepped down June 30 from his post as a vice president and lead for government affairs at the American Sportfishing Association (ASA).

“Conservation once meant wise use of our natural resources,” he continued. “The word ‘conservation’ has been hijacked by the preservationist community and now policy makers don’t see anglers as conservationists.”

Instead, many politicians now view groups such as the Ocean Conservancy, the Sierra Club, and the Natural Resources Defense Council as having “conservation” agendas. Unless we reclaim what is ours through vocal activism, we will suffer loss of access and angling opportunities. As a consequence, the health of aquatic resources will suffer, because recreational fishermen are the nation’s first and foremost conservationists.

On the positive side, Robertson, who spent a dozen years at ASA, pointed out that recreational fishing continues to enjoy “an enormously positive image” among the public. We must capitalize on that, he added, “to make better habitat, more anglers, and an even stronger image.”

The West Virginia native also cautioned that we should not neglect working with the environmental community when we do share common interests on broad issues, such as water quality. “We need to strike a relationship that fosters those bigger accomplishments while gaining recognition for the role of the angler in conservation,” he said.

What I’ll remember Robertson most for was his leadership in creation of the Keep America Fishing (KAF) program in 2010. It’s now the largest angler advocacy group in the country, representing more than one million.

As KAF coordinated efforts to combat efforts to ban lead fishing tackle and restrict access, Robertson learning something that helped convince him that the image of the angler as a conservationist needs to be revitalized. “Too many anglers are apathetic and geographic,” he said.

“Some issues, like lead, resonate better than others. But collectively we need to think about the future of the sport.”

That’s just what Robertson did during his years with ASA, according to those who worked with him, including two former national conservation directors for B.A.S.S.

“Gordon Robertson has done more for anglers and sportfishing in this country than most will ever know,” said Noreen Clough. “Among other things, in his quiet but extremely effective way, he guided the last reauthorization of federal legislation that provides funding for Wallop-Breaux federal (Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program), which makes significant grants to states to manage their fisheries and fishing programs.”

She added that his ability “to work effectively on Capitol Hill, even in this climate, is testimony to his political savvy and patience.”

Bruce Shupp added, “Gordon, and his predecessors, were always the first, best, and most important contact for me to get B.A.S.S. engaged in the most effective way to advocate and/or combat issues affecting the resource and industry.”

Both during his time at B.A.S.S. and as New York fisheries chief, Shupp said, “Gil Radonski, Norville Prosser, and Gordon filled the same ASA role. They were all excellent at their jobs, served the industry very well, and are among the most respected professionals I had the pleasure of working with. I hope ASA will find a similar caliber replacement.”

In that regard, ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman pointed out that Robertson “set a high bar when it came to professional excellence, which had a significant influence on everyone with whom he worked. His ability to work with Congress and federal and state agencies on complex resource issues is unparalleled.”

Fortunately for anglers, Robertson won’t step away immediately from ASA. Working a reduced schedule, he will continue to assist with on-going projects, as well as in the search for his replacement.

Whoever is selected to replacement him, however, certainly will have big boat shoes to fill.

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)

Thursday
Jul172014

Feds Threaten Recreational Red Snapper Fishery

Recreational fishing for red snapper in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico could become a thing of the past if anglers don't stand up and voice their outrage over a proposal by the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council. Even worse, if the council is not stopped, a precedent will be set and a model established for privatizing other sport fisheries in public waters.

This is the good ol' Catch Shares scheme that Activist Angler has been warning about for several years.

Here is what the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation has to say:

Federal management of Gulf red snapper is allowing only nine recreational fishing days in 2014 for a variety of reasons, including overly rigid statutory requirements, lawsuits and political influence by commercial and environmental organizations.

Rather than work to develop real solutions to the challenges facing recreational red snapper management, the Council is proposing to create further division and infighting among stakeholders by subdividing the recreational sector. The recreational fishing community has a small window of time to stop this troubling amendment from moving forward, but we must organize and act quickly.

And here's a joint statement from the sportfishing industry

The Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council is currently moving ahead on a proposed amendment that will pit segments of the recreational fi shing community against each other without addressing the fundamental problems with recreational red snapper management.

Amendment 40, also known as “sector separation”, will divide the recreational angler’s 49% share of the snapper fishery roughly in half between private recreational anglers and charter-for-hire and head boat owners (even though many charter boat owners don’t support dividing the recreational catch).

Federal management of Gulf red snapper has been brought to such an abysmal point of only 9 recreational days in 2014 for a variety of reasons, including overly rigid statutory requirements, lawsuits and political influence by commercial and environmental organizations. Rather than work to develop real solutions to the challenges facing recreational red snapper management, the Council is proposing to create further division and infighting among stakeholders by subdividing the recreational sector. The recreational fishing community has a small window of time to stop this troubling amendment from moving forward, but we must mobilize and act quickly.

Call to Action – The next two Gulf Council meetings will decide the fate of our access to our fishery, and these meetings are our last chance to turn the tide. You need to be there for the day of the public hearing (TBD) and speak out against sector separation. Visit Keep America Fishing for updates on the day and time for the critical public testimony.

August 25 - 29, 2014

Beau Rivage

875 Beach Blvd.

Biloxi, MS 39530

 

October 20 - 24, 2014

Renaissance Battle House

26 N. Royal Street

Mobile, AL 36602

 

When it comes to Council decisions, personal testimony at the meetings can be the deciding factor. Attend the public hearings and speak against dividing the recreational component into two different sectors because:

• Dividing the recreational sector further by expanding the commercial model to half of the recreational sector isn’t a solution, it’s a recipe for more hardships with many charter boat owners and all private recreational anglers. The solution is not to divide the recreational community, but to collectively push for a system of management that is appropriate for the entire recreational sector.

• Despite what the commercial industry and environmental groups proclaim, recreational anglers (both private and for-hire components) have been “accountable." We abide by the regulations and do what we are asked to do. It’s the federal system of fisheries management that has been “unaccountable” and failed the recreational community as a whole.

This type of management philosophy, for all practical purposes, will effectively eliminate the red snapper recreational season in federal waters for the private angler. It will be nearly impossible for someone to trailer their boat to the Gulf or schedule vacation around what will likely be two or three days of snapper season.

NOAA Fisheries has failed to provide any credible analysis of the economic impacts of this course of management.

This isn’t just a threat for Gulf of Mexico red snapper anglers. If the red snapper recreational component in the Gulf is allowed to be divided and privatized, it will set a precedent and create a model for other popular sportfish fisheries in the Gulf and along a coast near you.

Monday
Jun162014

More Money Wasted by Humane Society of United States

The growing animal rights movement threatens not only recreational fishing, but hunting, farming, and medical research.

The problem is that they use concern for animal welfare, which all of us share, as a Trojan horse to raise funds and increase their political clout.

In other words, most of the money donated to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other such groups does not go to benefit abused dogs and cats in local animal shelters.  In a clever parody of how the money really is used, HumaneWatch created a video parody entitled Lawyers in Cages.

Now, HumaneWatch has discovered something else: HSUS also is using donations to buy body armor, as well as official-looking badges.

“Here’s why this is silly: HSUS does occasionally assist law enforcement in conducting raids on dogfighters. But there’s no way that any law enforcement agency would ever put volunteers in a situation where they might be in the line of fire. The police will make arrests, and HSUS will assist in collecting evidence/seizing dogs afterward.”

HumaneWatch adds that money used for these expensive, but needless, vests could be going to feed animals in shelters.

Yes, please, donate to help feed and care for abused dogs and cats and to help them find homes. But donate locally!

Monday
Jun022014

Bass to Angler: 'See You in Court'

Visualize a PETA lawyer taking you to court on behalf of a bass. That’s what is coming.

If you fish and/or hunt and are not paying attention to the growing animal rights movement, you are ignoring reality and the threat that zealots pose to these American traditions.

Here is what animal rights advocates want:

  • No fishing
  • No hunting
  • No use of animals in medical research
  • No livestock in agriculture
  • No consumption of beef, pork, and poultry
  • No zoos
  • No circuses
  • And, oh yes, the same legal rights that humans have 

Check out this recent commentary at Powerline

“I managed to provoke fury in a graduate student earlier this semester when I expressed skepticism about animal rights by observing that I’d take the idea more seriously when we entered into labor contracts with our horses and livestock, and asked our pets for informed consent statements before subjecting them to the ministrations of a veterinarian. 

“Expressing such distinctions between human beings and other animal species is nearly as politically incorrect as questioning gender theory, gay marriage, climate change orthodoxy, etc.”

It goes without saying that animal abuse in any form should not be tolerated, and, sadly, too much of it continues to occur. But the most radical--- and active--- of the animal rights advocates are campaigning for far more than that. They want to deny use of animals in any way, and they want them to have the same rights as you and me, with their lawyers representing them in courts.

And here’s more: Legislature worries more about animal misery than human misery. 

Friday
May302014

Magnuson-Stevens Needs to Address Goals, Needs of Recreational Anglers

Photo by Robert Montgomery

As Congress considers changes in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), a coalition of angling advocate groups says that not enough consideration is being given to recreational fishing.

“Since its inception, the Magnuson-Stevens Act has focused primarily on commercial fisheries to the detriment of the nation’s 11 million recreational fishermen and the nearly half a million jobs they support,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation.

“Revising the law in a way that incorporates the goals and needs of anglers is long overdue. Our community has put forward the policy changes that will set the foundation for an effective saltwater fisheries management system, but we need Congress’ help by enacting these common sense and non-partisan policies.”

The recommendations offered by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, commonly known as the Morris-Deal Commission, include the following:

  • Establishing a national policy for recreational fishing
  • Adopting a revised approach to saltwater recreational fisheries management
  • Allocating marine fisheries for the greatest benefit to the nation
  • Creating reasonable latitude in stock rebuilding timelines
  • Codifying a process for cooperative management
  • Managing for the forage base

MSA is the primary law governing management of marine fisheries, and critics argue that On May 30, the House Natural Resources Committee approved a reauthorization bill, H.R. 4742, also entitled the “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act.”

 “While we appreciate Chairman Doc Hasting’s interest and efforts in Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization, we would like to have seen more done in this bill to address the needs of the recreational fishing community,” said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association.

“This bill includes several provisions that we support, such as easing the strict implementation of annual catch limits and improving stock assessments for data poor fisheries, but unfortunately our top priorities are not meaningfully addressed.”

“In addition to overlooking the priorities of the Morris-Deal Commission, we are also disappointed that the federal management failure with red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico is not resolved in H.R. 4742,” added Patrick Murray, president of the Coastal Conservation Association.

“A comprehensive overhaul of red snapper management is the only way to get us out of this mess. It’s vital that Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization addresses this management train-wreck by transferring Gulf red snapper management over to the states, which are much better equipped to successfully manage this important fishery.”

After passing out of committee, H.R. 4742 now awaits a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives. The Senate Commerce Committee is expected to unveil its Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization bill in the near future. With limited floor time before the November elections, many experts believe that full Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization may not occur until the next session of Congress.

“We understand that Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization likely has a long road ahead before a final bill gets signed into law, so we are hopeful that working with our friends in Congress, we can get the recreational fishing and boating community’s priorities addressed,” said Angers.

“We’ve been waiting a long time to bring focus toward improving saltwater recreational fisheries management, and there’s too much at stake to let this reauthorization pass without making the necessary changes that will establish a management system that works for – not against – recreational fishermen.”