My last two editorials discuss Obamas Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, who is steering their decisions, and the great threat that sport fishing faces in the near future from this government agency. In another recent editorial, I explain the reasoning behind the RFA movement to put flexibility into the Magnuson-Stevens Act so we can put an end to the unnecessary government closers of different recreational fisheries we have been experiencing recently. If you missed these editorials, I would recommend going to our website at www.biggamefishingjournal.com and give them a read. Links to all three editorials will be posted on our home page.
In this issue of the Journal we report on the Pew Charitable Trusts, discuss NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchanco, a Pew Fellow and self proclaimed recreational fishermans champion, (With champions like Jane, we dont need enemies.) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and their dedication to ending sport fishing as we know it today.
These are difficult times we face and theyre being compounded by anglers that are supporting enviro-driven back-door maneuvers to shut down recreational fisheries such as the Shark-Free Marinas effort driven by Oceanic Defense. A quick look at Oceanic Defenses useful link section on their website and we see the Pew Charitable Trusts, Oceana, and a few dozen other spin-off groups that would be happy to see the U.S. recreational fisherman go the way of the dinosaur.
The domestic recreational shark fisherman and the tournaments they participate in are no threat to the resource. They are by far the most conservation-driven events and conservation-minded anglers that fish our coastal waters. Thousands of sharks are released back to the deep annually with few fish being taken as tablefare. Except for a few problem shark fishermen that dont quite get it yet, most all shark anglers police their own ranks holding down excessive landings. The Shark-Free Marinas effort may be able to help the resource in some third-world country, but here in the United States the regulations we fish under and the conservation ethic of domestic shark fishermen provide that needed protection. If Oceanic Defense is successful, what the domestic Shark-Free Marinas effort will only accomplish is to provide the anti-fishing activists a new tactic to continue their assault on recreational fishing. I can see Bluefin-Free Marinas on the horizon.
Back in the early 1980s, as president of the Thousand Fathom Club, I realized that 10 percent of the people do 100 percent of the work. Nothing has changed in 30 years. As government agencies further restrict access to fishing resources, as preservationists continue to use their vast monetary resources to buy politicians, promote bad science, and provide misinformation, and half-truths to the public regarding recreational fishing, and the utilization of this countrys huge oil and gas resources, as fuel prices climb to $5.00 to $10.00 a gallon for gasoline and diesel, as our boats sit idle at the dock because nothing is open to fish for, as sport fishing businesses by the hundreds fall by the wayside, the 90 percenters of the recreational fishing community must realize they will be to blame for the collapse.
You must stay informed, get involved by joining recreational fishing organizations that fight for our fishing rights such as the Recreational Fishing Alliance (www.joinrfa.org), write letters to your politicians, and before you support any organization with preservationist group ties, stop and think! In other words, get your head out of that hole, become an informed fisherman, and fight for your right to fish.
Captain Len Belcaro