Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fishing Ban??

[I try not to get on too much of a rant in these posts, but fear I might have failed with this one. Sorry in advance]

I was scanning the updates on my blog list and saw the title of Lizzy's new post at "From The Fisherbabe" - click on her site on my Blog List to read. I went to her site and read it, and I encourage everyone else to do the same. It is a well written and well researched piece. There is some background info that is not available in her post, so I'll try to fill you in on my understanding of some of the history involved.

The Task Force that Lizzy explains is absolutely stated correctly. The President is going to have the Task Force's recommendations for Ocean, Coastal, and Great Lakes Management in the next 30 - 60 days. The part we all need to be concerned about is : How much will the task force include the interests of the sportfishing and boating communities into the National Policy Plan?

To us, it seems simple - a no-brainer, if you will. We all pay for our licenses, have the taxes on our purchases earmarked for continued well-being of our resources (Wallop- Breaux funds), and many of us actively seek to improve the environment itself, through donations, education, ... Pretty simple, huh?


There are contingents of people out there who envision ANY use of a natural resource as "too much". In the past few years, a number of Saltwater MPA's were established. MPA is a Marine Protection Area, and NO fishing is allowed. The rhetoric says these areas are overfished and need to be protected. If we could ever take the governments word as the truth, many of us would agree that, under those circumstances, the designated MPA's should be protected. The problem is that sport fishing is not separated from the commercial fishing interests. So, the sport fisherman who releases some of his catch, and is governed by ever tighter catch limits, is grouped in with the people who operate longlines, kill their by-catch, and historically rape an area of its fish until it is devoid of life before the set off to find a new area to kill. Areas off Hawaii, the FLA Keys, and California now have off-limits MPAs.

The cynical person thinks "Hmm - they already got through some MPA's in other areas - will they try in this new Task Force recommendation?" Color me cynical, because I don't believe that the sport fisherman's best interest is being taking into account. I believe the government reacts to the lobbyists with the deepest pockets, and the deepest pockets in this match are clearly those of the commercial fishing interests, followed closely by the tree-hugger types who think no one should ever fish.

Without seperating the sport fisherman from the commercial fishing operation, you clearly have an "apples - to - oranges" comparison. Every viable piece of scientific research has shown that the sport fishery has NEVER had a noticeable impact on a species survival. Where sportfishing has had impacts, the sportsman have embraced the actions needed to rectify the situation. I would point to the almost universal catch-and-release regulations imposed on many lakes in the far north country as prime examples. these areas have very short growing seasons, and any fish that reaches trophy size is a truly old, magnificent specimen that needs to be returned to the water. Whether the rules are decreed by the lodge, province, or self imposed by the fisherman, very few trophy sized fish are killed anymore in northern Canada. It has kept the trophy populations high, and people have shown they are willing to pay top dollar for the experience of the trip without having to kill the fish. It seems that none of this type of behavior is taken into account when the government creates a new rule that resticts sport fishing.

Recreational fishermen actually have a history of spearheading the imposition of limits on themselves, and their favorite species, as is evidenced by the striped bass laws that allowed the stripers to rebound from historic lows. (Do yourself a favor and read "Striper Wars" by Dick Russell. OUTSTANDING book about the striper situation.) We will do what needs to be done to protect our beloved ecosystems and resources.

The voice of the US Recreational Fishing Industry in Washington DC is the ASA - the American Sportfishing Association. they have provided the link that follows to allow you to email your congressmen, senators, and the President. Please take a moment to do so and make sure our collective voices are heard. The 3/9 update will link you to the appropriate page.
[I'm having trouble with the hyperlink - please paste the address below into the url]

Thanks for your help


The Fisherbabe said...

Great Post Joe!!! The history you have given is very educational and really helps in understanding that while protection of our environment is key, like everything things can be taken too far and many regulations can be made far too broad.

It is important to remember that above all else, political agenda is furthered by money. However, I do believe that we can make a difference by taking a stand!!

Thank you for writing a post that gives such great information and allows for people to really give thought to the issue AS A WHOLE and what it means to them!!!

My only hope in posting on this topic was absolutely not to offer support to either side. It was to try and get more people to rely on their own knowledge, research, and education to formulate an opinion instead of taking everything at face value and spreading horrible rumors that are just plain false. might have been to call out some major media outlets that really should behave in a more professional and responsible manner!!!

Thanks for a great post!!


butchadams said...

all freedom loving americans should be afraid of this president we currently have. I feel sorry for the thug who comes up to me and says " hey, you can't be wading in that creek taking all those photos and catching that smallmouth. at this time in my life,that would'nt sit too well with me. not good my friends.not good.

Clif said...

Joe, you live in Illinois. We both know our license fees aren't earmarked for anything. So long as we live in this state anyway.

Wolfy said...

Sure they are, Clif - they're used to make up a miniscule amount of the criminal wrongdoings executed by our illustrious Illinois leaders. They've been stealing that money for years - and it is completely illegal. And nobody cares, because, in the litany of illegalities perpetrated by Illinois lawmakers, it's so minor and so far down the list, no one will ever get to it.


Basspastor said...

Good Job Wolfy. Between you and the Fisherbabe there is some excellent information and perspective.


Free said...

As usual some most of y'all live in your own little world and know nothing about the subject of fishing except for propaganda that you are fed,recreational fishing has huge impacts on almost all fishery's,here in Fla we have several million making multiple trips every year and less than 1000 commercial fishermen landing fin fish.catch n release mortality has been proven to be very high on some fish.Snook has been recreational only in Fla since 1957 and are in trouble,strange that there were plenty of snook when they made them gamefish,red drum is another one,22 years since the no sale provision went into effect and they haven't recovered but are barely holding their own,BTW there is almost NO inshore commercial hook n line fishing in Fla and nets have been baned for 15 years. We could go on about almost every trout stream and river having to be restocked several times a year,trophy large mouth bass in Fla have become non existent.
The one and ONLY reason striper's made a come back in the numbers they are now was due to the clean water act of 1977,right now recreational fishermen in the Chesapeake are getting ready for their trophy striper season where they slaughter big sows full of eggs by the hundreds of thousands and between the catch n release mortality and the aborted eggs from the stress we will loose millions of future fish.

Wolfy said...

To All Readers (and Responders)

I have always felt that anyone who wants to post a response to one of my posts can do so. The only time I will delete a post iss if it completely offensive , illegal, or has purpose other than infuriating people. The previous poster has a right to their opinion, and I will keep their post up. I'm in no mood to start a major cyber -argument, so I will not respond directly to the points made by FREE. I will say, however, that, for the most part, they are ludicrous. No trophy bass left in FLA?? I don't know specifically about the snook population, so I won't comment directly, but I DO know that the redfish and trout populations were WAY down until the ban of inshore gillnetting, which indiscriminately kills everything that swims into it. Since the ban, both have flourished. And don't even start with me about put-and-take trout stocking programs.

Damn it - now I'm doing what I said I wouldn't do.

So - comment away. My original post is valid in thought and content. But I am finished commenting on this particular subjet.


Wolfy said...

Sorry - the 2nd sentence should have read: has NO purpose other than to infuriate people

Murphyfish said...

Apologies for the late comment (work and all that stuff!), although not familiar with fishing rights and how they may, or may not for that matter change upon your side of the pond I do get the general feeling that all ‘hunting’ activities are coming more and more under the scrutiny of government (here as well as upon your side), and I’m always suspicious of the motives; are they really for long term environmental benefits or more excuses for fleecing us out of more of our hard earned pennies? I think that at times that there are genuine environmental reasons for some changes in the laws governing our outdoor lifestyles but I also think that the scales are tipped to far towards unsupported and un-researched laws which just serve to harvest us for more cash, or for the benefit for those who provide the biggest ‘back hander’s’ (government bent? Noooo surely not).
I appreciate your candour and fairness in posting ‘Free’s’ comment although he does seem slightly unbalanced and a tad condescending in his thoughts and views, as for his accuracy, like I said I’m not up to speed with life over there but because of his tack (lack of) I deem that he may be a might blinkered.
Best regards,

T. Brook Smith said...

Wolfy, great that you are taking on this issue.

I know you're a level-headed guy so I think I can throw in my 2 cents without raising any ire. These are offered for perspective's sake.

The guy from Florida is a little abrasive, but he does make a good point that recreational fisheries down there are not quite the same as what I've witnessed in the Midwest. There is much more catch and kill in salt water fishing, and a percentage of fishers there are also selling their catch. As you rightly point out, it's the meat market that makes fisheries crash. The total recreational take is comparable to commercial take in some cases.

I have direct experience with MPAs in Belize and have had a chance to review the data from some of them. Obviously if you take away all the places to fish, you're not helping the fishery, but an MPA is supposed to raise the level of fishing everywhere by providing "reserves" to shore up populations in areas where take is allowed. I've seen for myself that is true in some cases. I haven't been watching this specific proposal closely so I'll try to catch up and see what's going on.

As for recreational fishers never harming species, that's mostly true but not completely true once you take into account all the things recreational fishers do.

Guadalupe bass are an the edge of extinction now because some knuckleheads in Texas decided to put smallmouth bass down there (they hybridize and eliminate the Guadalupe strain). Bait bucket introductions and ill advised species transfers are still the stock and trade of the industry. There's very little evidence the notion of conserving and managing native fisheries has really sunk in with the recreational angling public at all.

There are still people transfering common carp into places where they have never been and others trying to put peacock bass in places like Belize where they don't come from and where they don't belong.

You hang out with some exemplary conservationists among recreational anglers (I hope to count myself as one), but it's not that way everywhere.

Wolfy said...

Brook - you know your input is always welcome and valued.

You certainly have more direct experience in this realm than any of us do, so your opinion takes on more weight, as it should. When I write about receational fishermen not negatively impacting the environmebt, what I assume is that the recreational guys in question are abiding by the established laws. Ans that IS a foolish assumption.

I really don't think most fishermen would have a big issue with MPA's IF they were convinced that the MPA's were established based on scientific evidence, and not politically motivated politicians who pay lip service to the fishermen but follow their pockets directly to the commercial interests. I'd like to see some areas established, follow-up studies made, and recommendations based on the scientific findings of teh follow-up studies acted upon. Sadly, in the US, that alm,ost never follows thru to the end.

Thanks for weighing in, as always