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Feds to anglers: Kiss off!

I try not to get political with Dealer Outlook, but this Administration is starting to scare me. It appears the only speed they know is breakneck … no facts, just speed.
In June, the White House created an Interagency Oceans Policy Task Force. The directive: Develop a comprehensive federal policy for all coastal, ocean and Great Lakes waters … in a 90-day fire drill process!

If that’s not fast enough, now, in the second phase of the Task Force, the direction is more mind-boggling: Develop “zoning” under the pretext of “protecting” these areas, and do that by Dec. 9. What we should all fear is that “zoning” will justify the permanent closure of vast areas of fishing waters nationwide. Can you say, California-style restrictions on steroids?

Check it out: In the first phase, extensive submissions were presented by the recreational fishing community to the Task Force. But, as reported by Dave Pfeiffer, President of Shimano American Corp.: “They [the Task Force] failed to include any mention of the over 1 million jobs or the 60 million anglers which may be affected by the new policies coast to coast. Input from the environmental groups who want to put us off the water was adopted into the report verbatim — the key points we submitted as an industry were ignored,” he added.

If that doesn’t rile you, try this one. On Oct. 5, the National Marine Fisheries Service abruptly shut down the recreational black sea bass fishery for the next six months from Maine to North Carolina, based on survey data described by the National Academy of Sciences as “fatally flawed.” This has so angered the Recreational Fishing Alliance that it’s taking its program to protect the rights of anglers to a new level — litigation. RFA and allies plan to sue to reopen the sea bass fishery.

According to the scientists’ own data, black sea bass is a healthy stock. They are not overfished, and the most recent stock assessment places the spawning stock at 103 percent of their target. In fact, the stock has been at or above this level for the past decade. Still, the NMFS used the “fatally flawed” information from a Marine Recreational Fishing Statistical Survey.

To the point, the MRFSS data from last March and April indicates the private fishing fleet actually outfished the for-hire sector. But that’s a near impossibility considering that black sea bass are still offshore at that time — some 30 to 50 miles from any inlet — and most recreational boats haven’t even been launched for the season at that time.

We in the boating industry strongly support sustainable fisheries. But what now appears to be at stake is the very future of recreational fishing, threatened by misguided policies based on haste and ignorance. The direction of the White House is toward increased federal jurisdiction with the creation of a new National Ocean Council comprising more than 20 federal agencies at Cabinet Secretary or Deputy Secretary levels. Good grief!

It is critical that we ensure, 1) Congressional oversight, and 2) continued state jurisdiction and management, neither of which is contemplated by the Task Force. Accordingly, a special Web site at has been set up to generate e-mail to the Administration and members of Congress. Go to it.

Moreover, give the RFA your support. Its decision to sue is a bold but necessary undertaking, a declaration on behalf of all anglers that enough is enough Go to and get involved. We can either hand over fishing’s future to Washington or hold the future of fishing in our hands.

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Click here to read a position paper/treatise by RFA managing director Jim Hutchinson Jr. about faulty science and arbitrary rebuilding deadlines required under federal law — a  recipe for disaster, he says, that is denying anglers access to America’s No. 1 outdoor pastime while leading to a financial collapse within coastal communities nationwide.


10 comments on “Feds to anglers: Kiss off!

  1. Dave Geoffroy

    Next week, October 20-22, the fate of the Southern California sportfishing industry will most likely be decided when the Blue Ribbon Task Force of California’s Marine Life Protection Act meets in Long Beach. This group will evalute three different proposals, all of which, significantly limit in varying degrees the amount of allowable offshore fishing area between Santa Barbara and the Mexican border. SCMA has been involved in this misguided process for several years, a strong supporter of Partnership for Sustainable Oceans, a fishing-friendly industry coalition representing the interests of recreational anglers and boaters. This has been an almost insurmountable fight — groups with extreme environmental/protectionist agendas have poured millions of dollars into this crusade — we’re doing everything within our power to make the best of a bad situation.

  2. Doug S

    A little behind the curve here Norm (but so is most of the boating industry) We have had our heads in the sand for quite some time now. South Atlantic Fishery Management (with pressure from the PEW charitable foundation) is on the way to closing most bottom fishing off the South Atlanic coastline. This could not come at a worse tie for delerships as most are in survival mode right now. Unfortunatley if the currnet trend in fisheries ‘management’ continues there may not be much left for those that do survive. Get involved.

  3. Anthony Cavallo

    I think if 1million Dealers, and 60 million anglers were to fight the goverment , How in this world can we loose, Not only do they want to take away our relax time , But they want us to keep paying , to keep paying the F/& G salarys that are up near where the President makes,
    Or they give us more Task Forces, That make more money than most ,
    We should start a pettion againest the people that are trying to make us a prisonners in our own country,
    But It is o/k for the Ameracan Indians to put a net across a river and cut off all but afew fish to spawn,
    The Goverment I think wants to make fishing alarge business on private lakes and rivers So they can sell permits to Big company to Farm Fish,

    Thank You Anthony

  4. David Ray

    Doug S is right on point in Florida.

    Federal officials with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) are proposing a complete shut-down of all bottom fishing for up to 35 years in as much as 26,000 square miles from South Carolina to South Florida to protect red snapper, nassau grouper as well as other fish. This will severely impact Florida’s $16.7 billion recreational-fishing industry. The astonishing thing, or may be not so astonishing, is that the Feds are rejecting good science.

    The key issues are:
    • The stock assessment process is severely flawed and must be changed.
    • No charter boat captain, recreational or commercial fishermen will be able to come to the dock with even one American Red Snapper or possibly any other species from the snapper grouper complex.
    • The charter boat, commercial fishing and recreational boating industry will be economically impacted and the multiplying effect on communities of closing our fisheries could change the infrastructure of the recreational boating and fishing industry forever.

    Since almost 90% of boat purchasers cite fishing as one of the key reasons to buy a boat, this is a critical issue for boaters and the recreational boating industry. Public hearings will be held in Port Canaveral, FL on November 11 and Jacksonville, FL on November 12. The recreational boating industry needs to get involved before it’s to late.

  5. Jim

    Sounds to me like every marine trades organization, every fishing group, every charter fishing alliance should be burning up the phone and the emails to their respective congresspeople immediately. This is one issue that must be dealt with swiftly and decisively by all concerned within our industry. Thanks Norm for keeping us all informed and up to date on issues we should be on top of.

  6. Capt Dennis Young

    Where are the boat manufacturers, engine manufacturers, tackle manufacturers and accessories people? Having attended most of the SAFMC meetings and hearings on the east coast, I have never seen any representation for any of these groups. Having an extensive background in Marina Management and boat sales as well as offshore charter fishing I understand the impact that this impending closure (Amendment 17A & B) represents. If this amendment is passed I expect a near colapse of the recreational boating industry. Now is the time to stand up and voice your concern not just for your companies but the people who got you where you are, the customers!

  7. Sunshine State

    The Shimano ‘press release’ was caustic- the title itself served as the ‘news’ that millions of recreational anglers are not important to the Administration, which is exactly not true. The version that has weaved it’s way on to computer monitors throughout the nation’s boat sales offices,causing doom and gloom,include threads that quickly swerve to anti Obama chants,even grave NRA warnings.

    There are many legitimate concerns. And perhaps some optimism and credible,effective course of action for marine interests revealed.See the possibly positive account of the Obama administration’s historical extension to the recreational angler community (just as he suggested he would do in last years “Field & Stream interview) and related matters in the November 2009 issue of Saltwater Sportsman;”A Voice Within”

  8. doc

    yep….meltin the phones might help, and then maybe not,too. how much are they listening on the health care issue..yes?

    hunters and fishermen do share something in comman, no matter their status in life… a passion for what they and their families like to do with their rec time. tell em they can’t do that no more….and get ready to see them exericise their vote.

    can smell it fellas….it stinks now, but in about a year….we can send washington a loud and clear message of what we think of their “changes”….oh yes, its going to happen. keep the faith in that.

  9. Komrade Carl

    Sunshine State so where is your office in Washington where you monitor internet blogs like this one?
    You only seem to surface when a blog has “Whitehouse”, “Government”, “President”, “Washington”, etc in them. Please explain the “historical” aspects of the extension & where it ranks on the scale of historical acomplishments in the last 10 months? Is it up near the historical trillions of dollars of debt or the historical high unemployment numbers? The letter in the Saltwater Sportman is not a jubilation or a tribute to his highness but has much concern and sights the extension as at best a mini micro step in the correct direction… There is little positives to this administration.

  10. steve s

    These reader comments, and many in the past on this site, are political view points cloaked as marine industry opinions. The main message repeated over and over is: Liberals are takers and conservatives are selfish. We get it! For those of you who don’t and need more of this rhetoric, go read and post on the news channel blogs!

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