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Boycotts and other fishing issues

You gotta like the Recreational Fishing Alliance – they have no fear and take no prisoners. Recently, RFA opted to take on the Waltons. No, not John boy . . . the other Waltons, as in Wal-Mart and the Walton Family Foundation.

RFA called for the nation’s anglers to boycott Wal-Mart after discovering the WFF has awarded more than $36 million to groups such as the Ocean Conservancy, Conservation International Foundation, World Wildlife Fund and Environmental Defense Fund, among others. RFA has deemed these are all anti-access organizations, easily recognized for their anti-fishing agendas as evidenced by their support for restricted fishing areas and catch share programs.

According to RFA executive director Jim Donofrio, the Ocean Conservancy, for example, is pushing hard to complete California’s network of exclusionary zones throughout the entire length of coastline. “They’ve made it very clear that they would like to see the West Coast version of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) extended into other coastal U.S. waters,” Donofrio explained. “Here’s an organization which has publicly opposed creation of artificial reefs used by Wal-Mart’s tackle buyers, in some cases openly advocating their removal. Yet, the Walton family is handing over tons of money in support. Shopping for fishing equipment at Wal-Mart is contributing directly to the demise of our sport — it’s supporting lost fishing opportunities and decreased coastal access for all Americans.”

On another front, a serious drop-dead date looms only 60 days away, and one of the most important fishing bills ever to hit Congress is languishing. The deadline refers to a requirement that NOAA’s Federal Fishery Management Councils set annual catch limits and accountability measures on fish stocks by Dec. 31, 2011. This requirement was contained in the 2006 amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Conservation & Marine Act. But, predicated on two critical assumptions: (1) NOAA would improve catch data that, heretofore, has been documented as unscientific, if not outright lame; And, (2) any ACL decisions would be based on up-to-date, accurate stock assessments.

However, NOAA has clearly failed to meet the MSA mandate for more accurate data. Moreover, NOAA has interpreted the requirement to apply to every stock of fish under management, leaving the Councils with the conundrum of either deleting stocks from management or applying highly restrictive ACLs based on very poor – and in some cases non-existent – data. NOAA presently has about 528 stocks or complexes of fish under management. Remarkably, they don’t have updated stock assessment data on even half of them! The results: a train wreck of arbitrary closures and unjustifiable limits.

Enter the “Fisheries Science Improvement Act” (H.R. 2304), introduced in the House by Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., in June, with a bi-partisan group of 18 co-sponsors. The bill seeks to ensure that NOAA is required to set catch limits based on real data, not on guesstimates. Moreover, it seeks to relieve the situation in which NOAA is compelled by statutory deadlines to make major fishery management decisions in spite of inadequate data and no evidence of overfishing.

Genuine science must be the one and only driver of federal management of our nation’s salt water fisheries. NOAA is moving to set ACLs and AMs for some 500 stocks of fish to meet the deadline. H.R. 2304 extends the 2011 deadline to 2014 for stocks of fish that are not overfished. Its passage will eliminate the current arbitrary and overly-restrictive catch levels being imposed on so many important recreational fisheries.

The bill isn’t moving and needs some attention drawn to it. Dealers, especially those selling salt water fishing boats, as well as anglers are encouraged to send a letter or email asking their Congress person to support moving H.R. 2304. It is currently in the House Committee on Natural Resources.


4 comments on “Boycotts and other fishing issues

  1. Doug Reimel

    Again, the name of an organization that sounds innocent is designed to give dishonest impression so someone will throw money at them, it works. First, Government is the problem. Daily doing more to steal our freedom and regulate everything to death. Just look to Europe for over regulation. Getting back to the organizations, their goal is to use their influence to change your life not theirs. Most likely they are exempt. They preffer you experience life through your computer and not harm nature. You and I know we are apart of nature and interacting with nature is how one gets a true understanding of the cause and effects of ones actions. Keep fighting the good fight.

  2. Capt Brad

    Bag Limit and Commercial Quota for Gulf of Mexico Red Grouper to Increase Effective November 2, 2011

    NOAA Fisheries Service announces a final rule that increases the red grouper bag limit from two to four fish in the four-fish grouper aggregate bag limit. The rule also increases the commercial quota of red grouper. Because red grouper is a part of the shallow-water grouper complex, this also requires an increase in the shallow-water grouper quota. The final rule will be effective November 2, 2011.

    Recreational bag limit
    The rule increases the red grouper bag limit from two to four fish in the four-fish grouper aggregate bag limit. This will allow the recreational sector the opportunity to harvest its allocation which was increased from 1.36 mp to 1.65 mp for 2011.

    It appears that the science and regulations are having a positive effect on the populations. This fact is evident by the increased in allowble fishing.
    Wal Mart is not out to get rid of fishermen but only to have a sustainable fishery. A collaps in a fishery would be devistating to coatal communites. With the ever increasing world population regulation is needed.

    Having some areas off limits to fishing is no differend to having ares off limits to hunting that is the norm and embrased by many.

  3. Mike Colby

    Capt. Brad makes an interesting comment. The Gulf Regional Council in June 2010 authorized the re-opening of the Gulf red snapper fishery for a fall season. The updated stock assessment indicated an overage and additional quota was released to the fishery. CCA, RFA and others joined in approval of this move. Peculiar, you decry the data on one hand as “junk science” while applauding it when you get the answer you want.

  4. Jim Hutchinson, Jr.

    Where Capt. Brad is missing the point is in the fact that the Walton Family Foundation is specifically giving money towards creation of non-scientifically based marine reserves, while also supporting a program called “catch shares” which is specifically designed to arbitrarily cap fishing participation while trading ownership of the resource away to select individuals or those with the most money to bid. NOAA is not funding appropriate science (as evidenced by the fact that a new recreational harvest data collection program mandated by Congress to be rolled out in January of 2009 has not yet been implemented, which thereby impacts overal stock assessments and individual harvest limits for anglers.) Deemed “fatally flawed” by the National Research Council, this data is helping destroy our recreational marine fishing industry.

    Meanwhile, instead of dedicating monies towards helping improve science, Walton Family Foundation is giving grants specifically to privitization schemes and arbitrarily implemented ‘no access’ marine reserves. Keep in mind, these ‘reserves’ don’t just keep out fishermen, but in many instances when looking at California they also keep motorized boats, sailboats, even kayakers out of the particular zone. Each of these zones is within easily accessible distance to recreational users, which again is destroying public access to a public resource.

    We decry the science used because the highest scientific peer review group in the U.S. has called it “fatally flawed,” their words, not mine. When NOAA starts meeting their congressionally mandated deadlines and incorporates taxpayer monies to improve science as opposed to creating arbitrary ‘management tools’ and over-reaching bureaucracies, maybe then we can have a more substantial debate about science.

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