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Entries in Recreational Fishing Alliance (31)


'Ecosystem Management' Is Tactic to Restrict Fishing

Passed in 1973, the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) was much needed. Before then, we have given little regard to the damage that we were doing to fish and wildlife through pollution, habitat destruction, and overharvest. The gray wolf, the shortnose sturgeon, the whooping crane, and the American crocodile are but a few of the species brought back from the brink.

But soon environmental activists discovered that they could use the act to impose preservationist agendas, under the guise of saving endangered species. They started suing the federal government to force action.

As a result, the ESA now has become a polarizing force, as examples abound of the federal government abusing its power to seize and/or deny use of privately owned lands and waters. Sadly, some property owners even practice “shoot, shovel, and shut up” as a means of protecting themselves.

And now the environmentalists, financed by Pew Charitable Trusts, want to use the same tactic to restrict fishing by imposing “ecosystem-based fisheries management.” It’s simply the ESA by another name, with the focus on our waters.

The Recreational Fishing Alliance reports this Pew strategy:

“Ecosystem-based fisheries management could ensure the long-term health of our fisheries and the communities that depend on them for recreation, employment, and nutrition," with environmental advocates describing the vague term as a system to "account for the protection of important habitats, consider the critical role of prey, or forage fish, in the food web, and reduce the waste of non-target species through bycatch."

And in response, Jim Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, says this:

"Pew Charitable Trusts wants ecosystem protections put into the federal fisheries law. That way they've got a legal argument to sue and settle for increased fisheries restrictions.

"Under such a nebulous ecosystem definition, Pew and their partners would then have a legal challenge to close down any recreational fishery they choose by claiming the need to protect sea lice, spearing, oyster toads, undersea corals, even jellyfish."

In May, Pew will hold a forum for Connecticut anglers in what RFA calls the “Hijacking America” tour.

“The Pew script explains how ecosystem plans should be created and implemented across our coasts to further integrate ecosystem considerations into management, while appealing for support for incorporating ecosystem-based fishery management policies into federal law by way of changes to MSA (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Event organizers are hyping ecosystem-based management as yet another ‘new approach’ to fisheries management in their war on recreational fishing,” RFA says.

Go here to learn more about this and how Pew, according to RFA, is trying to recruit recreational anglers “willing only to speak positively about federal fisheries management policies that have denied anglers access to healthy, rebuilt stocks like summer flounder, black sea bass, and porgy.”


Battle Not Over to Protect Florida Fisheries from Gill Nets

From The gill nets are catching more than mullet. A canal mugflat exposed at low tide on Tuesday shows entangled redfish, a prized gamefish. Gill nets were banned in 1995, but a judge decided to stop enforcing the rule. Photo provided by Marc Hardesty

The 20th anniversary of a constitutional amendment that saved Florida’s inshore fish and ecosystems will be celebrated in 2014. It banned the use of gill nets, which were wiping out mullet, an important forage species, while obliterating snook, redfish, and other game fish as bycatch.

But encouraged by a high price for mullet roe in foreign markets, commercial fishermen continue to try to overturn the ban. And their latest effort succeeded temporarily, as a Leon County judge agreed with their arguments.

Fortunately, a higher court allowed the ban to stay in place as this latest challenge works its way through the state’s judicial system.

“Great news for now,” said Brian Gorski, executive director of Coastal Conservation Association Florida. “It’s still long from over.”

Meanwhile, Jim Donofrio of the Recreational Fishing Alliance said that anglers are ready to fight for the amendment that was approved of by 72 percent of Florida voters.

"Talk about awakening a sleeping giant. This judge's ruling completely contradicts the will of the people. It violates the constitutionality of the 1994 vote and threatens to undo 20 years of successful conservation practice in her state," he said.

"It also is pitting the commercial fishermen of Florida against every single member of the recreational fishing community, and I doubt that's a war they were hoping for.

"All the recreational fishing organizations and conservation groups are on the same page on this one.”

As this latest challenge plays out, Rodney Smith, a Florida guide and founder of Anglers for Conservation, shared his thoughts with Activist Angler regarding the fight to save Florida’s inshore fisheries:

“It is easy to understand the great concern and frustration Florida anglers and conservationists experience whenever this amendment is challenge or disobeyed.

“For far too many years, folks who commercially fishing our state's waters used monofilament gill nets to capture their catch. This type of fishing gear is known for its immense and non-discriminative bycatch. There are few fish-catching devices more destructive to our environment than monofilament gills nets.

“These death traps are not only fish killers, but they trap and kill marine birds, reptiles, mammals and a countless number of other critters that are discarded as bycatch. This one of the many reasons Florida's voters passed the net ban amendment.

“This isn't the first attempt to sabotage Florida's constitutional net ban amendment. Every couple of years we see these types of shenanigans. They usually come from an underling court in rural west Florida or the Panhandle.Each time the amendment has stood strong in higher courts.

“Looking back to years running up to the 1994 election, the year the amendment was approved, I remember the milestones we reached along the way to make this amendment possible. It took us a couple of years to rally the support we needed to raise money, recruit and mobilize volunteers at voting precincts, and collect over 200,000 signatures during the 1992 elections to place the amendment on the ballot.

“Looking back, the majority of us involved had a sense of urgency and a feeling that nothing could stand in the way of getting this amendment passed.

“Ours was a fevered passion for success, and it was a five-year process. During the campaign my clients and I had an attempt on our lives by a commercial netter who loosened all the lug nuts on my wheels. There were also the late night threatening, drunken phone calls that we received. (They worried my wife, Karen.) And I had a face-to-face death threat at a Marine Fisheries Commission meeting in Cocoa Beach. It was an exciting time!

“Yes, 2014 will be the 20th anniversary of Florida's constitutional net ban amendment passing, and we should all be talking about it.”


EDF Wants More Punishment for Recreational Anglers, Says RFA

The Gulf of Mexico is ground zero for the assault on recreational angling. That’s because commercial fishermen are colluding with the anti-fishing Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to further restrict the red snapper fishery for sport fishermen.

The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) asserts that a lawsuit “argues how recreational fishermen aren’t being punished enough by our federal government.”

It also says this:

The Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance is a group of commercial fishermen in the Gulf, specifically owners of individual fishing quota (IFQ) and red snapper ‘catch shares’ – who are themselves supported financially by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). 

“The lawsuit through K&L Gates would force more restrictive accountability measures on recreational anglers in the Gulf of Mexico.

“An ‘accountability measure’ is punishment for catching too many fish; one such punishment is an in-season closure, another is a harvest payback of any overage.  The final ‘accountability measure’ which would forever change the way we fish is the IFQ or ‘catch share’ for the recreational sector.

Catch Shares is a scheme pushed insistently by this administration to manage fisheries by turning a public resource into a private commodity. Mostly it is directed at commercial fisheries, as individuals are allotted shares of the overall allowed harvest. But if used with a mixed fishery, it could have catastrophic consequences for recreational angling, as an infinite number of anglers are restricted to a limited collective share.

The reality, meanwhile, is that recreational anglers harvest only about 2 percent of marine species. Commercials take the rest. Yet recreational fishing, with minimal harvest, is more beneficial to the economy.

RFA is soliciting help to combat this attack. Go here to learn more.



Romney Speaks About Recreational Fishing in Big Game Fishing Journal

The September/October edition of Big Game Fishing Journal features an exclusive interview with Mitt Romney on issues related to recreational fishing.

"The Journal's publisher, Len Belcaro, asks the real questions on the minds of saltwater anglers today, and Governor Romney's answers are exactly what our community has wanted to hear," said Jim Donofrio, Executive Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

 "Just looking at a few of the advance quotes I can tell that Governor Romney truly gets it!"

On what sportfishing means to him as former governor of a coastal state (Massachusetts):

"The economic impacts of recreational fishing activities are significant, and they have too often been overlooked in recent years."

How 'President' Romney would help preserve and protect our coastal traditions:

"Recreational angling can be an incredible economic engine for our coastal states, but it is being shackled by misguided, over-reaching regulations that make little economic or conservation sense."

What a Romney administration would do to address national ocean policy:

"Public participation should begin early in the process and be ongoing. Sustainable recreational use should not only be supported within a national ocean policy, it should be actively promoted."

Tackling angler criticism of NOAA Fisheries:

"A more responsive, transparent, science- and economics-based system is needed to properly manage our marine fisheries. When those pieces are in place, we will enter a new era of trust and cooperation that will be good for the fish - and the fishermen."

The governor's perspective on critical appointments inside Department of Commerce:

"A Romney Administration would focus on bringing a new philosophy into fisheries management that will put the focus back on commonsense regulations that can protect and rebuild fisheries when necessary, but will also allow anglers greater access to healthy marine resources."

To pick up a copy of the September/October Big Game Fishing Journal, visit its dealers page or call 800-827-4468.


Romney a Better Choice for Anglers

As the November election nears, the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) and the September issue of Big Game Fishing Journal provides reasons to vote for Mitt Romney.

The latter features an interview with Romney by its publisher, Len Belcaro. A few quotes from the piece follow.

How “President” Romney would help preserve and protect our coastal traditions:

"Recreational angling can be an incredible economic engine for our coastal states, but it is being shackled by misguided, over-reaching regulations that make little economic or conservation sense."

The governor's perspective on critical appointments inside Department of Commerce:

"A Romney Administration would focus on bringing a new philosophy into fisheries management that will put the focus back on commonsense regulations that can protect and rebuild fisheries when necessary, but will also allow anglers greater access to healthy marine resources."

To find out where you can buy the Journal, check out the Dealer’s Page. Or call 800 827-4468. You can find back issues and subscribe here.

To read more about the upcoming election as it pertains to saltwater anglers, science- and economic-based fisheries management, and the National Ocean Policy, read RFA's newsletter for August/September.