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lessly to have some of the language stripped from the bill and to maintain a degree of flexibility for fishery managers so they could make difficult decisions while taking into consideration weaknesses or gaps in the available science. Unfortunately, not enough recreational anglers got involved to avoid the inevitable and even worse other recreational fishing based conservation groups and industry organizations either promoted the questionable regulatory language or stood idly by while it was ramrodded through Congress without so much as a vote by the Senators and Congressman. It was passed using a process called unanimous consent, which amounts to nothing more than a Congressional rubber stamp on a bill of critical importance to commercial and recreational fishing and coastal economies. The sorry part is most of our representatives didn’t even bother to read the bill never mind try to understand its implications. It turned out to be one of the slickest jobs of usurping the legislative process ever pulled off and the environmental left, with help from some recreational fishing allies, get all the credit. Now, the MSA chickens have come home to roost, as predicted by RFA fisheries and legal experts in 2006! As a result, today we are fighting to preserve our right to fish on a daily basis and we have been hard pressed to head off much of the unnecessary, agenda driven closures that keep coming like rain in the spring. The main reason is because there is no flexibility left in the regulatory process, something Eric Schwaab, the Assistant Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, testified to just last week before Congress. When asked about any flexibility in the management process that might be used to try and reduce the socioeconomic impacts here’s what he said.

In other words, there is no flexibility which is exactly what RFA railed against during the reauthorization process telling everyone who would listen that the legislation as written, which combined hard stock rebuilding deadlines with the imposition of catch limits and accountability measures, would have a profoundly negative impact on recreational fishing while doing little to improve conservation. RFA’s executive director, Jim Donofrio, realized at the time that the current level of data collection and scientific stock assessment methodology simply could not provide the accuracy required and, even if it could, the closer the rebuilding process got to a hard rebuilding deadline the more draconian the cuts would have to be to meet the arbitrary deadline. So we have emergency closures of entire fisheries, ridiculously truncated seasons or complete closures of fisheries to public access happening with ever increasing rapidity. Anglers like you are fed up, businesses that cater to fishermen are shutting their doors, party and charter vessels remain tied to the dock for months on end and unable to pay their bills, and entire coastal communities are nearing the brink as tourism and the income and taxes it generates crash. Have you had enough of it? Do you want to see a return to common sense conservation and reasonable access to rebuilding and rebuilt fisheries? I hope so because getting participation from the fishing public to help us change the law and get back on course will require a lot more of you to get involved and that has never been easy. Recreational fishermen are an independent lot. Part of the problem is unlike gun control the worry isn’t that some government enforcement agency is going to take away our fishing rods and impound our boats. No, it’s much more insidious than that. They are going to continue to chip

“The flexibility in our view and understanding of the law ends at the point at which we have a reasonable expectation of ending overfishing and rebuilding stocks in accordance with the timelines that are established in the act,” Schwaab answered. April 2011 | ANGLER

RFA STATE CHAPTER CONTACTS RFA-North Carolina Charles Milam . . . . . . . . cmilam@sunbeltnetwork.com . . . . . . 336-708-1133 Capt. Dave Tilley . . . . . admin@fryingpantower.com . . . . . . . 910-264-3973 Tim Barefoot . . . . . . . . . barefootcharters@aol.com . . . . . . . . . 910-264-9118 RFA-South Carolina Capt. Mark Brown . . . . captmarkbrown@comcast.net . . . . . .843-568-5955 Wes Covington . . . . . . . weadair@msn.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .843-330-3390 Stuart Ballard . . . . . . . . stuart@tailwalkermarine.com . . . . . . . 843-241-4769 RFA-Georgia g Bob Black . . . . . . . . . . . . rabblack1@yahoo.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . 912-223-2986 Paul Durham . . . . . . . . . paulbdurham@gmail.com . . . . . . . . . 912-282-6962 RFA-Florida Dave Huber . . . . . . . . . . davehub@bellsouth.net . . . . . . . . . . . . 561-758-8388 Bob Flocken . . . . . . . . . . rkflocken@fishska.com . . . . . . . . . . . . 904-669-0011 Meli Londeree . . . . . . . . meli@joinrfa.org . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 407-339-9249 Gary Poyssick . . . . . . . . garypoyssick@mac.com . . . . . . . . . . . .727-480-2287 Dave Heil (Gen. Council) . . dheil@gmail.com. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 407-492-1991 RFA-Texas Jim Smarr . . . . . . . . . . . . jimsmarr@charter.net . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 361-463-1558 Tom Hilton . . . . . . . . . . . hilton@realtime-navigator.com . . . . . 713-530-2267

away at our ability to go fishing a little at a time reducing where we can fish and what we are allowed to fish for. When they are done the hope is they will have chipped away enough to make most of us go home and hang up our fishing rods for good! It’s called “effort reduction” taken to the extreme. The plan has accelerated dramatically under the current administration and with the former executive director of the Environmental Defense Fund running NOAA Fisheries. But some involved in the current fight in Congress and the courts are convinced it is going to get even worse. They feel that with the political handwriting on the wall and the realization that the current President will not be reelected there is even greater urgency to enact as many new regulations as possible before the top bureaucrats at NOAA and the Department of Commerce are all tossed out of their jobs in another two years and this is not good news. The problems we face today are unprecedented and the adversary pushing the agenda is politically savvy, extremely well financed, and cares not how much economic devastation it reaps in achieving its goals. When they are done there might be more fish in the sea, but there will be damned few of us left to fish for them. It’s right there in front of your face and there is only one organization that is really working to stop it by standing up to the powerful NGOs that are pull-

ing the strings in both Congress and in federal court and that is the RFA. That is the reason why the RFA is promoted by the Southern Kingfish Association and why SKA managing partner Jack Holmes has become one of the board of directors. During the entire Magnuson debate the RFA was on the money with its observations and dire predictions. Since the reauthorization all the problems their staff warned about have been coming to fruition. But the RFA has done much more, they have the right legislation in place to correct the problems and a strong core group of Congressmen and Senators behind it. A competing bill being supported by the usual suspects who helped bring us the current crisis simply does not address the problems of flexibility that have to be corrected and will not provide the relief necessary. But the only way the RFA can succeed and continue to press for our right to fish is with your support and participation. So how can you become an angler-activist? To start with if you are not a member of the Recreational Fishing Alliance join NOW! Go to www. joinrfa.org and sign up. Like any political action organization the RFA lives or dies by its membership and funding and SKA members have been joining in large numbers recently, but not large enough. Every new member represents a voting citizen and increases the volume and the power of the message the RFA brings to politicontinued on page 30

www.FishSKA.com

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Angler Magazine – April 2011  

Official publication of the Southern Kingfish Association

Angler Magazine – April 2011  

Official publication of the Southern Kingfish Association

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