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Entries in Recreational Fishing Alliance (30)

Friday
Nov082013

Battle Not Over to Protect Florida Fisheries from Gill Nets

From Jacksonville.com: 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.”

Thursday
Jul112013

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.

 

Monday
Oct012012

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.

Friday
Sep142012

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. 

Tuesday
Aug282012

Walmart Heirs Allied With Obama Administration in Anti-Fishing Agenda

Anti-fishing is well represented in President Obama’s administration, and, as I pointed out yesterday, its advocates will be even more aggressive should this President win a second term.

They will have plenty of support too. Not in terms of numbers; recreational fishing is viewed favorably by a vast majority of people. But in terms of finances; preservationists --- those who believe that we should exist apart from nature, as opposed to as a part of nature --- have deep pockets, and they are spending millions to keep us from fishing.

About a year ago, the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) pointed to the Walton Family Foundation as one of the worst, even though Walmart stores are eager to sell fishing tackle to anglers.

“Shopping for fishing equipment at Walmart is contributing directly to the demise of our sport, it’s supporting lost fishing opportunities and decreased coastal access for all Americans,” said RFA Executive Director Jim Donofrio.

 “I hope all RFA members across the country will remember that when it’s time to gear up, but I would also wonder if perhaps our industry can help spread the message and support our local tackle shops by also pulling product off Walmart’s shelves.” 

In the wake of that revelation, the National Legal and Policy Center explained Walmart ties to the green movement in an article with the headline “Walmart Heirs Fund Anti-Fishing Activists.”

Here’s an excerpt:

“The bulk of the foundation’s grants have gone to many of the usual suspects within environmental extremism: Environmental Defense Fund, World Wildlife Fund, National Audubon Society, American Rivers, Ocean Conservancy, and Marine Stewardship Council, among others. The New Jersey-based Recreational Fishing Alliance calls the substantive gifts an attempt to ‘fund the demise of both the recreational and commercial fishing industry,’ noting especially Ocean Conservancy’s desire to eliminate access.”

And there’s more. Much more. Stay tuned to the Activist Angler to learn what we’re up against.

Also, remember that a vote for President Obama in November is a vote against recreational fishing and a vote for the preservationist movement embraced by the Walton Family Foundation and other philanthropists whose views don’t reflect those of the majority of Americans.