Sadly, environmentalists and fishermen, who are conservationists, don’t have much in common these days. That’s because of much of the environmental agenda is inherently anti-fishing.
Much of that stems from enviros refusal to differentiate between recreational fishing and commercial fishing.
As a matter of fact, anglers were among the first “environmentalists” because of their concern for clean water and healthy fisheries. Today, they contribute hundreds of millions of dollars annually for resource management through license fees and excise taxes on fishing tackle. And, unlike commercials, they keep only a tiny fraction of what they catch.
But stopping Pebble Mine near Alaska’s Bristol Bay is one thing that enviros and anglers--- both recreational and commercial-- agree on. Its creation would lead to the devastation of one of the world’s few remaining unspoiled salmon fisheries.
More than 925 angling and hunting groups, as well as related businesses, now are on record as supporting EPA’s assessment of the danger and asking that agency to take the necessary steps to deny permitting for the mine.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post newspaper reports the following:
“Almost all the comments urging the EPA to block the mine have been generated by major environmental groups . . .
“The Natural Resources Defense Council produced 83,095 comments, more than any other group in favor of EPA action, while the Pew Charitable Trusts came in second with 41,158 comments.”
Now here is where you come in. You have until June 30 to voice your opposition to the mine. Go here to do so, and, in the process, enter a contest to win a fishing trip to Bristol Bay.
Thus far, the enviros have done most of the heavy lifting in producing comments. As of May 18, only about 6,000 sportsmen had participated.
In a nation where 60 million people describe themselves as anglers, that’s beyond pathetic.
“Sadly, fishermen have lagged, but not by any lack of effort,” said Scott Hed, director of the Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska. “Keep America Fishing sent out two notices to their massive list. Many other groups and businesses sent action alerts and posted to their Facebook groups, whose collective number of followers is in the millions.”
So, what all of this tells me is that sometimes enviros and anglers can agree on an issue, and that’s a good thing. Maybe one will lead to more.
But it also suggests that we’re going to lose when we oppose them on any issue that requires grassroots support. Almost certainly we outnumber them, but too many anglers are content to just go fishing and leave standing up for our sport to someone else.
Mark my words: Eventually, that’s going to bite us in the butt big time.