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■ by Gary Caputi

You can see

it every time you go on a fishing website, read the outdoor column in the local newspaper, or whenever you try to go fishing. The regulations are more draconian, the seasons are shorter, the bag limits even more constrained and more new areas are closed to fishing altogether. If you didn’t think that was possible just a few short years ago you cannot deny the reality of what is occurring before your very eyes, we are losing our right to fish and the pace has been accelerating since the Obama administration put the darling of the environmental left in charge of NOAA Fisheries. The question is, are you going to sit on the sidelines and let it happen or are you ready to become an angleractivist and fight for what you love? If you want to get involved and you have time and talents you can bring to the fight please keep reading because the RFA needs you and many more anglers like you. Hunters and gun owners realized a long time ago just how fragile even those rights granted to every American in the Constitution can 6

We are losing our right to fish and only an organized effort at both the State and Federal level by fisherman-activists can reverse the tide. RFA needs qualified volunteers at all levels to man its growing state chapters. be. The Second Amendment—the right to keep and bear arms—is constantly under assault. You see it all the time; some anti-gun group goads a politician into proposing laws that infringe upon the rights and freedoms of law abiding Americans and someone has to fight them in the courts and in the hall of Congress. One grassroots organization took up the cause to protect our Second Amendment rights and has been a tireless watchdog for many years. Along the way the National Rifle Association became one of the most respected and effective political action organizations in the world and the great

part about it is the NRA isn’t representing some industry or special interest looking for government grants and feeding at the government trough, they represent “We the People.” The Recreational Fishing Alliance was formed in much the same way, as a grassroots political action organization to protect saltwater fishermen’s interests and the right to fish for “We the People.” Initially, the RFA worked on and won numerous legislative and regulatory battles to ensure the sustainability of the stocks of fish we like to catch and they continue to do that today. Working to main-

tain sustainable fisheries is one of the three legs of the organization’s unambiguous mission statement, the same mission statement that was one of the founding documents of the organization fifteen years ago. But today the fight is different and, if you’ve been paying attention, it is one that the RFA predicted would occur more than ten years ago with the 1996 reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). The changes made to the law then included some very important and beneficial charges to NOAA Fisheries, but it also contained a few that, if pushed, had the potential to lead to restrictions on recreational fishing that were unnecessary and systemic in nature. In 2006, the reauthorization process began again and this time there was a full court press by the environmental NGOs (NonGovernmental Organizations) to include regulatory requirements that would be impossible to implement in an even handed manner with the current level of scientific data available to work with. RFA’s staff and lobbyists worked tireANGLER R | April 2011

Angler Magazine – April 2011  
Angler Magazine – April 2011  

Official publication of the Southern Kingfish Association