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Billfish Conservation Act Revisited



A principled approach to fisheries management. CAMPAIGN TRAIL DIRTY TRICKS

RFA investigates who’s attempting to sabotage Rep. Southerland reelection bid. CHAPTER NEWS

NMFS to New England Charter Fleet—No help for you!


ECOSYSTEMS & FORAGE FISH A Rather Elementary Debate

Does NOAA really have the know-how and budget to push forward with Ecosystem Management or is it just more smoke and mirrors?

Mexico Beach Marina RFA Board Member And much more all in this issue.

Summer 2014 Issue Spring 2014/Volume 3, Issue 1


Making Waves |

Summer 2014

Spring 2014 Volume 3, Issue 1

FROM THE PUBLISHER’S DESK By Gary Caputi Welcome to the Summer Issue of the RFA E-News magazine, a publication dedicated to keeping our members and sponsors aware of what is happening in the world of saltwater fishery management and legislation. Take some time to review the news, updates and feature articles and you will be among the more knowledgeable fishermen on the water. Most of the battles taking front stage this summer revolve around the continued loss of access to rebuilding or rebuilt fisheries. The summer heat is no match for how hot under the collar Gulf fishermen are about the drastically reduced red snapper season and the continued push to force charter and recreational fishermen into an unwanted catch share program that promises to allow commercial fishermen to sell their quota back to us. Wait a minute, I thought they didn’t have enough quota to fill all those orders for snapper and now they want to sell them back to us. Seething is probably an appropriate word when discussing tempers in the Gulf, but now it’s not just recreational fishermen. A number of states are basically telling the Gulf Council and NMFS to stick their management regime and striking out on their own course. IT’S ABOUT TIME! Now if we can get all of them to do the same and make it a clear vote of “No Confidence” in the federal management system as being practiced in the Gulf of Mexico maybe we can make headway on getting it right. Gulf anglers aren’t the only ones suffering under the overbearing weight of a management system gone awry and that’s because the root problem remains the Magnuson Stevens Act as amended back in 2007. There is movement afoot on the new reauthorization of the MSA with the introduction of HR 4742 in the House by Representative Doc Hastings. It is a strong starting point in what promises to be the hotly debated reauthorization process. With so many things to fix and so much opposition from the Environmental Lobby to keep this just as screwed up as they are now it should be an interesting summer and fall. The RFA is on the case so watch for updates here and in your InBox.

INSIDE THIS ISSUE Executive Director’s Report: Black & White & Gray


RFA Issues & News Important happenings in Fish Management


Profile: Nate Odum Mexico Beach Marina Member RFA Board of Directors


Breaking News from the Campaign Trail


By Jim Donofrio

By Gary Caputi

By Jim Hutchinson, Jr. Ecosystem Management—Is it in the cards or a pipe dream?


By John DePersenaire Billfish Conservation Act: So Where’s the Conservation?


State Chapter News RFA Boots on the Ground Around the Nation


By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.

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Executive Director’s Report

Blacks & Whites & Grays Using a principled approach to fisheries management is not always popular, but it’s the RFA way.


ost people will tell you that nothing in life is black and white. Individuals and groups are often criticized for being ‘black or white’ on an issue, for being on one side or another. Rules however are typically in black and white – there should be no gray area on right or wrong, yes or no. Yet for some reason, with so many of our coastal fisheries issues, folks love to paddle around the gray area. At the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) for example, we often get criticized for taking a ‘black’ or ‘white’ position; catch shares for example, RFA has always opposed the use of privatized fish stocks in fisheries enjoyed by the recreational fishing community. Some folks preferred the comfort of ‘gray’ on this issue, and took issue with RFA’s firm stance that ‘no means no.’ In terms of fisheries management issues, many folks love to dance around the gray area. Where on one hand we have fish stocks that are healthy, rebuilt, or rebuilding on a sustainable trajectory, on the other hand we can’t get access to those fisheries because of environmental extremism. Rather than choose a side, some folks prefer to play the middle which

ultimately leaves things a muddied mess. Consider this for a moment; when the Magnuson Stevens Act was passed into law back in 1976, it was intended to ensure fishery resources were managed for the greatest overall benefit to the nation, particularly with respect to providing food production and recreational opportunities here in the United States. In fact, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “most notably, the Magnuson-Stevens Act aided in the development of the domestic fishing industry by phasing out foreign fishing.”

the sportfishing industry together, but the rules here are very clear – it’s very much black and white. Some folks would like to change the definition outside of congressional authority to meet their own agenda – but pretending that ‘fisheries’ don’t include fishermen harvesting fish, or that ‘resources’ shouldn’t have intrinsic value is clearly outside of the law which governs our American fishing communities.

Federal law includes definitions, very clear definitions on how our American fisheries are to be managed. By NOAA’s own definition crafted under federal law, a fishery “is an activity leading to harvesting of fish.” There is no gray area here, when someone uses the term ‘fishery’ it is by definition related directly to the ‘harvesting of fish.’

The act of harvesting fish sustainably in the U.S. is what the law protects – in fact, in terms of black and white, the law is crystal clear in what must be done. Yet members of Congress continue to pussyfoot around the gray area, trying to placate both the environmentalists and the coastal fishermen, and essentially getting nothing done.

Some groups who live in the ‘gray area’ love to refer to protecting or preserving the ‘resource’ as the most important aspect of fisheries management under the Magnuson Stevens Act, but in NOAA’s glossary of terms, a resource is defined as “A natural source of wealth and revenue,” or “Anything that has value; living and nonliving components of nature such as fish, oil, water, and air.” Anti-industry preservationists love taking RFA to task for supporting the anglers, the fish and

Bottom line, Congress needs to understand what the law is really all about, and they need to start focusing attention on our issues as black and white, for obvious reasons. Yes, the Magnuson Stevens Act has been successful in rebuilding fish stocks; however, by denying fishermen access, the law has also been a failure. We need fish and fishermen, or we don’t have a ‘resource’ and the nation has no ‘fisheries’ – that’s pretty black and white to me.

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Contender ad

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Summer 2014

RFA Issues & News By Jim Hutchinson, RFA Managing Director

Each news item includes corresponding hyperlinks. For more information, simply click on the link to read the release in its entirety.



While a fair number of conservation and fishing groups were “underwhelmed” by efforts of Congress to improve the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Recreational Fishing Alliance sees more good than bad in the bill and provided their take on the legislation in the June 11, 2014 edition of The Fishing Wire national news publication.

For 30 straight days this summer, air gun blasts estimated to be nearly double the volume of a jet engine going off every five seconds in the ocean off the Central Jersey Shore were set to occur under a controversial research project aimed at mapping the effects of climate change. Blasting was slated to begin in early June, but opposition is mounting by recreational and commercial fishing industry groups who say the blasts “RFA’s team of experts, scientists, policy professionals are likely to harm fish populations and environmentaland attorneys looked at HR 4742 very closely, and they ists who are warning that the data from the study see this legislation as addressing 80 to 90 percent of could be used by the oil industry to justify drilling off what’s at stake for our recreational fishing community the New Jersey coast. right now,” said RFA executive director Jim Donofrio. “If we could get together and get 80 percent of what As reported by Capt. Al Ristori of the Newark Star we need in a bill to get fishermen fishing again, in this Ledger, “The Recreational Fishing Alliance notes that congress, we should do it. Even with HR 4742 missing only President Obama and his Secretary of the Interior, some industry wish list items, this is a bill worth supSally Jewell, can postpone this study -- and they've porting.” See RFA’s HR4742 position at been deaf to the bipartisan requests to do so.” Read Al’s blog at the Newark Star Ledger.

Will the Obama Administration stop seismic blasting off the Jersey coast or should we call in Moby Dick?

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their very own lawsuit?) Florida Sportsman Magazine has the full story from the RFA on their website.

The Recreational Fishing Alliance is commending the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for soliciting angler feedback and coordinating agencies and efforts regarding a national fishing policy, particularly for the agency’s efforts this summer to schedule meetings with stakeholders outside the Washington, D.C., area. “One problem in the past was that NOAA Fisheries would hold invitation-only meetings in the Washington, D.C., area, but the saltwater anglers and marine business owners are going to their state and regional council meetings to express concerns, and that’s where these types of sessions should be held,” RFA executive director Jim Donofrio said in a statement. “Kudos to NOAA for coming out into the public arena for public input and especially for being able to face angler frustration head-on.” RFA Managing Director Jim Hutchtinson, Jr., with one of those ‘endangered’ red snapper on a fishing trip off Click here for full story from Soundings Trade Only. Mexico Beach, FL. CLICK ON Jim’s photo to watch a recent edition of Bay County Outdoors thatfeaturies GULF RED SNAPPER SEASON an open and frank discussion about management and futile quest to get away from those pesky snappers ALL BUT CLOSED The recreational red snapper season in federal waters while fishing for grouper! of the Gulf of Mexico has effectively been closed, with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Reef SOUTH JERSEY SHARK TOURNEY Fish Committee voting in early April to restrict saltwa- This year’s South Jersey’s Annual Shark Tournament ter anglers to just TWO fish per day for 11 days. had all the elements that define a great tournament experience: big fish, a record payout and great weathThe decision to essentially end public access of a re- er. Wrap these three variables around a new, more building red snapper stock was the result of a lawsuit flexible format and the usual high standard of hospiby 21 commercial fishermen funded by the Environ- tality and what results is an event that is nothing less mental Defense Fund (EDF) brought against the feder- than epic. al government. A judge on March 26th found that NOAA Fisheries violated federal law by allowing an- The tournament’s new “fish-two-of-three” days affordglers to fish 40 days for red snapper in 2013, leading ed Captains a welcomed degree of EDF attorneys to a victory dance around what’s left of flexibility while a new Calcutta structhe recreational red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mex- ture along with an impressive 97 ico. boat field contributed to the record total payout of $323,273. Calcutta “We won,” cheered EDF attorney Monica Goldberg in winnings were the key element to a widely circulated email following the judge’s deci- the Relentless record payout as the sion, while Adam Babich, a Tulane University professor 32’foot vessel also took the “Under who specializes in environmental law cases trumpeted 35 Foot Calcutta” dollars. the verdict as “good news.” Not all the tournament winnings (“Good news?” “We won?” And to think there are were in cash however, as John Hersome recreational fishermen out there who want to sit ron of the “Keeper” was the very at the table with ‘EDF’ folks to help broker compromis- lucky winner of a new Yamaha es – what compromise can be brokered with someone F200, in-line 4-stroke outboard enwho cheers when you lose your right to fish thanks to gine. The engine was donated by

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Yamaha and only 200 tickets were made available at $100 apiece; all proceeds benefited the Recreational Fishing Alliance. Check out the full story from the Cape May Gazette.

SHARK TOURNAMENT MAKES DEBUT IN NEW BEDFORD The Massachusetts port of New Bedford will host of the first North Atlantic Shark Tournament, cosponsored by the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) and The Fisherman Magazine and featuring the Bos- SALT LIFE OPTICS SUPPORTS RFA As you read this month’s edition of Making Waves, ton Bruins. please pay special attention to some of the newest This tournament is designed to combine offshore an- (and longest-running) sponsors, industry folks who glers' passion for the sport of big-game shark fishing care about your right to fish! One of those manufacand the need to fund the fight for recreational fisher- turers is Salt Life Sport Optics. men's right to fish. A tribute to fishing, it's a not-forprofit event, run by fishermen with extensive tourna- So how good are these Salt Life sunglasses? Perhaps ment experience out of the port of New Bedford with you’ve heard of ZEISS before? For over 160 years, 100 percent of the profits used to fund organizations ZEISS has been the world’s leading brand in precision with a track record of battling to keep our coastal wa- optics, utilized by NASA, Google Earth, Hasselblad ters open to recreational fishing, including RFA.. Read and Leica cameras, not mention hardcore saltwater anglers. Carl Zeiss himself invented the ‘anti-reflective’ South Coast Today for the story. AR5 technology, a five-layer coating that reduces

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glare that goes into the Salt Life Optics system.

Summer 2014

The measures are proposed to implement MidAtlantic Fishery Management Council recommendations, because the five artificial reefs were built with and are maintained with State of Delaware Sportfish Restoration Funds to enhance marine sportfishing opportunities.

The frames are handmade in Italy of premium TR90 materials, with Salt Life plaques designed by one of the oldest makers in the world, with all plaques screwed in with precision for increased strength. Combined with the Polarized Polycarbonate materials that make up the Salt Life Optic Lenses, the "Let’s hope the Mid Atlantic Council can get the same result is a light but durable product with true color results for reefs off New Jersey in the months ahead,” recognition that will surely make these sunglasses a said RFA executive director Jim Donofrio, adding “this favorite of yours in the future. will help kill the live blackfish market fishery for tauSaltwater anglers have plenty of choices for eye protog." Donofrio said the state of New Jersey has altection and advanced polarization technologies to ready started a process for dealing with fixed gear better spot fish, with prices that ranging anywhere problems on state reefs, which he said should pave from $80 to upwards of $800 or more – but Salt Life the way for this special management zone process Sport Optics are definitely worth a look in the $150 there too. range. Check out your local retailer, or visit Proliferation of commercial fish pot/traps on some of the artificial reefs along the Atlantic Coast is prohibitNMFS SET TO FREE UP DELAWARE REEFS ing the recreational fleet from fishing on the artificial reefs. The state of New Jersey is currently working on OF FIXED GEAR a plan to address the fixed gear problem on that The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has state’s two inshore reefs, which RFA hopes will lead to published a proposed rule to implement Special Man- similar action by NMFS in the future to address the agement Zones on five Delaware artificial reefs with other reefs outside of 3 miles. the comment period on the proposed rule to close on August 4, 2014. The action proposed by NMFS off the coast of Delaware will promote orderly use of the resource, by reThe special Management Zones would only allow ducing user group conflicts, and helping maintain the fishing by hook and line and spear fishing (including intended socioeconomic benefits of the artificial reefs the taking of fish by hand) in the artificial reef areas, to the maximum extent practicable. and that these measures would be implemented with a 500-yard buffer around each artificial reef. Click here to view the proposed rule in PDF format.

To Keep Up with all the News from the Recreational Fishing Alliance watch your Email. If you’re not on our electronic mailing list to receive future issues of the RFA E-News Magazine click here.

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Summer 2014


Nate Odom, Mexico Beach Marina-RFA Board Member


ate Odum is the newest addition to the RFA Board of Directors and someone we feel will be a great asset to the organization both at the national level and locally in his adopted home in the Florida Panhandle were fisheries management is totally out of touch with recreational fishing and out of control in the way it is being conducted.

Everglades, Flamingo, Lake Okeechobee, the Kissimmee River and in the Bahamas.” Nate was lucky to have a father who taught him to fish and to appreciate the outdoors. He was quick to tell me that, in his opinion, there just aren’t enough kids who have mentors like his dad. “Too many kids today are losing the outdoor tradition. Fishing has the ability to impact their lives in many positive ways,” he said.

“When you take a kid fishing you open the door to a new world that will stay with them the rest of their lives.” Nate and his brother-in-law Bill Mulligan of Knoxville, Tennessee, own and operate Mexico Beach Marina & Yamaha on the Gulf of Mexico, but this is a more recent development in their lives. He spent most of his professional years in the insurance industry starting as an adjuster with All-

Nate was born and raised in Miami, Florida, the son of Bud Odum, a Georgia native who grew up on a farm in the southeast portion of the state. Bud left the farm to join the Air Force and served with distinction in the Korean War. Afterward he spent 37 years working for Pan American World Airways, based out of South Florida. “My dad was my mentor,” Nate said. “He introduced me to the outdoors. Fishing was one of his passions and the time we spent together instilled that love in me. He started me early, when I was 2 years old, and as I grew up I was fishing and diving the Keys, the

Nate with a pair of “rare and endangered” red snapper. “We’re literally tripping over red snapper in state waters and beyond and the season just keeps getting shorter and shorter. This is crazy!”

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Summer 2014

state and latter moving into commercial sales where he ultimately landed with one of the syndicates with Lloyds of London employed as a Development Underwriter/Producer. During that time his family grew and today his son Michael is a paramedic and firefighter in Ft. Lauderdale; his son Justin is a firefighter and EMT in Panama City and his youngest, daughter Valerie, is an honors student at Port St. Joe Senior High School.

up purchasing a condo right next door to the marina. Both of our families started vacationing here regularly and during one trip Bill and I kicked around the idea of buying the marina if it should go on the market. As luck would have it the next year it did and we did and one of us had to move here to run the business. I guess I drew the short straw.

handles the books and other duties here at the marina and takes time to enjoy her daily walks on the beach collecting shells and coral. We consider ourselves very blessed to have settled here in Mexico Beach. .”

“After buying the marina and meeting some of the local charter captains, and slowly beginning to learn what was happening with “Mexico Beach reminds me of fisheries management in the Gulf what Miami might have been I was amazed at what I found,” Nate said. “I When I asked wanted to dehim how he termine for mygot into the self what was marina busigoing on at the ness he said, State level and “It’s a long stowith the Gulf ry, but an interCouncil, which eventually leads esting one.” back to Wash“Although we ington, DC regwere Miami ulators and polinatives, we ticians. It was liked to travel because of my around the love of the outstate and vacadoors and my tion in differdesire to see ent places,” future generaNate recounttions be able to ed. “The family enjoy it like I discovered St. have that I kept George Island, It’s about the future and our children and grandchildren being able to grow reading and a barrier island up and enjoy the outdoor heritage we learned about from our parents. Nate researching, east of Panama and his two grown sons are a perfect example of why it’s so important. talking with cusCity, as a vacatomers and tion destinaback in the 1940s when my people who knew a lot more tion, and that was our introducgrandfather was farming land about it than I did. Through my tion to the Panhandle area, that is now Florida International own observations it was becomwhich is also known as the FloriUniversity,” Nate said. “A pristine ing increasingly obvious that conda’s Forgotten Coast. That was in bay, beautiful beaches and in- servation had less and less to do the late 1990s. During a trip in credible fishing. It is truly a fisher- with managing fisheries like red 2004 we decided to drive from St. man’s paradise and probably one snapper and that there was George to Panama City and of the best kept secrets in the something bigger going on bepassed through a quaint little seacountry. Not only saltwater, but hind what was taking place with side town that we didn’t even freshwater as well. You can’t for- federal regulators and their relaknow the name of, but took an get about hunting either, which tionships with organizations like immediate liking to. It was Mexico is much better than what we had the Environmental Defense Fund. Beach. I told Bill and his wife in south Florida. The pace is cerDebbie about it when they were “I started talking with people tainly much more relaxed and looking for a second house him from a variety of associations that suits me just fine. My wife in the Panhandle and they ended claiming to represent recreational

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fishermen, did my own research and determined that the RFA was the only one that was responding to what was going on in the Gulf and calling it like it really is— corruption with a clear agenda that had nothing to do with sound science or common sense. They were calling out EDF, investigating their ties with other associations, tracking the money trail and exposing the corruption in the fisheries management process for all to see. So I joined the RFA, something that more fishermen really need to do. Then I learned that the RFA is the real NRA of sportfishing, a grassroots political action organization, and that sealed the deal. I joined.”

what it really is to the average fisherman the more support we will get. The obvious fact is that we are literally tripping over red snapper here in the Mexico Beach area and throughout the Gulf, yet they are taking the fishery away from us under the guise of conserva-

we stand to lose recreational saltwater fishing in the Gulf at the hands of a well-funded minority of folks backed by organizations like EDF. The message of the RFA is clear and unambiguous and it is our job to reach out to our own personal network of friends and business associates and show them what the RFA has done and continues to do on our behalf. I encourage everyone I meet to join, to get involved and help us take back recreational fishing.”

The next step in his evolution from RFA member to member of the board of directors came when Nate met Jamie Wilkenson, a longtime member of the RFA and board member from Panama City, Florida. “Jamie really stressed how I could be more involved and work harder to make a difference in the way fisheries were being mismanaged and be a RFA Board of Directors member Jamie Wilkinson was major asset to the RFA,” Nate directly responsible for expanding Nate’s involvement with the RFA. Jamie is a videographer, producer of TV recalled. With the bit in his teeth Nate is working hard to get more anglers involved. “We have to quit taking the bait from those who have usurped control over the management process in the Gulf,” he said. “They are very good at talking about everything as if it is unquestionable scientific fact. You don’t have to be a rocket science to see the deception and the agenda behind the deception and the more we can expose it for

tion. At the same time we have to continue our push to reform the Magnuson Stevens Act and to reign in catch shares from becoming part of the recreational or forhire sectors of the fishery. “Everyone that has skin in the game—manufacturers, distributors, retailers, recreational and commercial fishermen, hotels, restaurants, businesses that depend on tourism—has to get involved or

Summer 2014

The RFA is pleased to have Nate Odum associated with the organization and now on the board of directors. His talents in business and his passion for recreational fishing are an unstoppable combination. He is one of our “boots on the ground” in the Gulf where fishery management at its worst is being practiced.

“Every member of the RFA should be proud of the organization they are supporting and should make an effort to get more involved,” Nate said in closing. “I hope and pray they continue to be advocates and that the organization continues to reach out to more anglers and grow, especially with younger folks interested in fishing. It is the only way we are going to preserve the heritage of saltwater fishing for ourselves and future generations. I firmly believe that the recreational fisherman has never been the problem with conservation. On the contrary, we have always been the champions of conservation!”

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NATE ON TOPIC LETTER TO THE EDITOR—Star Newspaper, Port St. Joe, Florida

Interim federal red snapper season update Published: Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 08:52 AM.

six miles and caught twelve red snapper totaling 175 pounds (do the math on the average). Ten years ago this was impossible! Now, before one of the hired hacks with the EDF, who already has pen in hand and begins to write, let's understand this: The fishery was re-built years ago and I have a good idea they know it. They can continue to collect and manipulate their bogus data, but one thing they cannot do is hide the obvious overflowing red snapper fishery that we are all literally tripping over now. Meanwhile, what does NOAA, NMFS and Gulf Council do? They continue to restrict access to the recreational fisherman. We are all about conservation; the vast majority of all recreational fishermen get it! What we don't get it is why do we keep losing more and more access to a fishery that has obviously rebounded ten-fold? Could it be because it's not about the fishery at all and part of a much bigger agenda? We will save catch shares and sector separation for another day and discussion. Remember! You can't hold back the tide or hide the obvious forever. But I'll bet they'll keep trying.

Dear Editor, As the owner and operator of the only marina and bait & tackle store here in Mexico Beach, I wanted to give a quick update: We sit right in front of one of the finest red snapper fisheries in the Gulf. On day one of this year’s nine-day Federal season we enjoyed terrific weather and a strong day of sales, primarily in bait and fuel. We also issue fishing license and have a day to day clear understanding of the fishing pressure or lack of, here in our area of the Gulf. Sunday, June 1 revealed trailers over-filling our public ramp area all the way out to U.S. 98 and back to the marina. Let's forget the fact the season opened on Sunday and not Saturday for now. Fast forward to this morning, I have an Accuweather app on my phone that I refer to daily. This morning we had a small-craft advisory and the next three days show rough seas at best. I am able to see the ramp area from our condo and can tell you this morning we had four trucks with trailers in the lot and so far today the marina has sold a fraction of Stay tuned! what was sold yesterday in bait and fuel. Last Nate Odum Tuesday, my family went out approximately Mexico Beach Marina & Outfitters

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Breaking Campaign News RFA calls out bogus political action group “Ocean Champions” for baseless attack ads against Congressman Steve Southerland.



new round of political attack ads targeting Rep. Steve Southerland has begun airing on cable outlets throughout Florida’s 2nd Congressional District. An organization called Ocean Champions is actually paying for these advertisements, which ironically mention nothing about Rep. Southerland’s track record of working with local fishermen or the ocean environment.

as a non-profit, 501C4 political action organization. The group was formed by marine biologist David Wilmot and environmental attorney Jack Sterne and boasts some of the leading anti-fishing activists in the United States including David Festa of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) as board members. Actually, Mr. Festa and Mr. Sterne are partners at EDF, where the two have been leading a national charge to tie up our coastal fisheries through a privatized system of fish “Rather than explaining Gwen Graham's support for tags. Through this tag system designed to cap fishing Obamacare or why she's advancing an anti-fishing participation by trading away fish ownership to priagenda, these outside groups are more interested in vate owners, recreational saltwater anglers would eidistorting Steve's record of providing real relief to ther have to purchase the ability to fish at public auchardworking families,” noted Southerland staffer Matt tion, through government clearing house, or possibly McCullough about the initial $36,000 advertising cameven by going directly to current shareholders paign purchased by Ocean Champions in support of (perhaps even EDF) to broker a deal. their anti-public access candidate, democrat Gwen Graham. In a widely circulated email to coastal fishermen last year, Mr. Sterne described the specifics of the EDF It should be noted that Ocean Champions, in partnerplan as similar to what’s occurring in Alaska, “where ship with House Majority PAC and other groups, every angler who buys a license and a king stamp spent $300,000 during last campaign cycle against gets the right to harvest five kings a year. Alaska is far Southerland, that according to political consultant bigger than the Gulf of Mexico, and yet this system Bob Doyle who acts as the group's independent exappeared to work quite well (at least when I was penditure director. A self-professed “accomplished there) to hold anglers to our collective limits.” golfer,” Mr. Doyle is vice-president of the advertising firm Main Street Communications which is getting Sure, ask the charter boat captains, lodges and indipaid to produce these confusing and irrelevant attack vidual anglers who travel to Alaska each year and are ads that so far have nothing to do with the fish, the told that the only way to fish for halibut is to buy back fishermen or the fishing industry. the public resource to shareholders who own the fish stocks. This bureaucratic takeover of an American The big question of course for many Florida voters in public resource, as devised by non-government envithe 2nd Congressional District is who exactly is Ocean ronmental organizations, has been perpetrated at a Champions, where do they come from and whom shocking pace in recent years. exactly do they represent? The problem is that recreational anglers in the Gulf of Ocean Champions was founded in California in 2003

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Mexico are adamantly opposed to Sterne’s plan for a privatized program of fisheries management, and have turned to leaders like Rep. Steve Southerland on Capitol Hill for help. In his four years as champion of the fishermen, Rep. Southerland has fought for the rights of saltwater fishermen, recreational and commercial alike, while specifically leading the charge on behalf of tackle shops, marinas, boat dealers, for-hire captains and the entire shoreside industry which depends on a robust recreational fishing community.

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ery? In turn, this same group is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat representatives in Congress who have stood up for America’s fishermen by standing up to the bureaucrats in Washington and the special interest environmental extremists who want to stop America from fishing by privatizing our coastal fisheries and turning our oceans into petting zoos.

Thanks to Jack Sterne’s Ocean Champions, Californians have been denied access to the ocean through a series of marine reserves deAt the same time, signed to eliminate Sterne and his fellow boating, fishing, EDF attorneys helped kayaking, rowing, sailsupport a federal lawing and any other suit by the EDFactivity which Floridifunded Gulf Shareans sometimes take holders Alliance for granted. If Ocean which ultimately led Champions gets their to a debilitating nineway, the culture and day red snapper seatraditions of coastal son in federal waters fishing and boating in off the Florida coast. the Florida Panhandle While Sterne originalwill be at similar risk ly denied his group in the future because had anything to with of their ideological financing this lawsuit war that has just into continue punishing vested $36,000 to the recreational fishstart a run of political Southerland has long been recognized as a champion of recreationing community, a attack ads designed al fishing and his seat on the House Resources Committee makes widely circulated to manipulate the vothim a target for radical environmental groups. email showed fellow ing public. EDF attorneys doing a victory dance around what's If you think that the Gulf of Mexico should be off limleft of the recreational red snapper fishery in the Gulf its to any type of public access or enjoyment, then of Mexico following the verdict, with EDF attorney Oceans Champions is a super PAC for you! Monica Goldberg writing “we won,” and another enIf, on the other hand, you support the culture and vironmental law specialist trumpeting the verdict as tradition of coastal fishing and boating along the Flor"good news." ida Panhandle, then Rep. Steve Southerland – the saltGood news? Jack Sterne’s Ocean Champions coaliwater angler - is your ‘fishing and boating champion’ tion believes it’s “good news” that recreational saltwaon Capitol Hill from Florida’s 2nd Congressional Dister anglers are getting shut of the red snapper fishtrict.

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‘ECOSYSTEMS’ & ‘FORAGE FISH’ A RATHER ELEMENTARY DEBATE By John DePersenaire RFA Policy & Science Researcher “Without a massive budget, no less than double the current NMFS budget levels, ecosystem based management is a risky approach that if forced on the current management regime will certainly hurt fishermen.”


s the House and Senate considers amendments to the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), a few buzzwords and catch phrases have surfaced within the Senate staff working draft; ‘ ecosystem based management’ and ‘ forage fish .’ Teachers at the elementary school science level teach their students that the concept of ecosystems involves relationships between abiotic and biotic factors. Think back to grade school for a moment and you’ll remember that ‘abiotic’ factors would be things like water or ocean bottom, where ‘biotic’ factors include the fish, plants and living corals. Specific to marine ecosystems, managers would identify and attempt to quantify relationships between physical, chemical, and biological

aspects of the terrestrial, atmospheric, and alluvial systems to make predictions about how a change in one system will impact the physical and biological elements of the marine system and the fish in it. The fishery managers understand and accept that marine ecosystems are not static, nor are their boundaries defined. This means the variables that drive the whole of the ecosystem are constantly changing and the amount of factors that influence this variability are boundless. Similar to the Heraclitus quote, no man steps in the same river twice , a marine ecosystem is constantly in flux and different from one day to the next. That means that an ‘ecosystem based fishery management approach’ must take all of these factors into consideration when assessing and managing a marine fish stock.

SOUNDS GREAT, BUT HOW TO APPLY? The intentions of this type of management approach are

valid as most fishermen clearly understand and observe firsthand how their fishing success is influenced by a multitude of factors, water quality or the amount of forage during a given year for example. Where this management approach falls short is when law mandates the amount of influence each factor has on an ecosystem to be numerically modeled and incorporated in the fishery stock assessment. With so little empirical data on the influence of these factors, a massive amount of error and uncertainty would enter the assessment process. Uncertainty in simplest terms, translates into less quota and more restrictive management measures, especially for recreational anglers. The fishing community as a whole has gone to great lengths and expense to improve the data for several marine species in an attempt to reduce uncertainty and to produce better stock assessments. This work could ultimately be undone by a mandate to use adopt an ecosystem base management approach would introduce massive levels of uncertainty.

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Recall that the scope of influence on the marine ecosystem and marine fish is unknown at this point so the amount of uncertainty would not doubt be massive. Despite the limitations of ecosystem based management, basic tenants of the concept are beginning to be utilized in the assessment process. The management of Pacific salmon is one example where returning fish, water levels and other factors are considered when setting annual landings limits. Moreover, concepts such as predator-prey relationships are beginning to be incorporated into management objectives for some species. Notwithstanding its limitations, ecosystem based management is the direction fisheries management should take, but only when appropriate data is available. Ecosystem based management could ultimately allow managers to make better predictions about stock status and recruitment, while also better understanding the cause of a stock’s decline when fishing is not the culprit – but that’s in a perfect world with the best possible science. Even NOAA scientists would have to agree, we’re simply not there yet.

PUTTING THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE Ecosystem based management raises concerns from a data standpoint as outlined above, as well as a legal one. MSA is the nation’s primary law in regards to the management of marine fish in federal waters. MSA assumes constant productivity and assumes little interac-

tion between rebuilding or rebuilt species. This is an impossible mandate that creates potential conflicts by mandating that all stocks managed in a region must be rebuilt to and maintained at maximum sustainable yield. For ecosystem based management to become the preferred approach, considerable changes would need to be made to MSA and would likely be inconsistent with the surplus production management approach currently being used. Currently, a draft MSA reauthorization bill has been released to the public for comment by the Senate Committee on Science, Commerce and Transportation. Included in the Senate staff’s working draft is a section that calls for fishery ecosystem plans. Among other things, the ecosystem plans would identify and prevent fishing rates that jeopardize the maintenance or recovery of the fishery ecosystem or biological community structure, function, stability or resilience, protect species diversity, and protect food web structure and function. All of these goals and objectives are nebulous, undefined and potentially dangerous in the sense that they could be used by groups to file erroneous lawsuits with a federal court in an attempt to shut down a particular recreational fishery on grounds that it impacts the diversity of an inconsequential species’ - cunner for example. This is dangerous language that if passed could spawn a relentless onslaught of frivolous lawsuits. Noting precedence, in such lawsuits, NOAA would likely fold there-

by forcing the industry to pony up legal fees to defend our right to fish.

DOLLARS AND SENSE The National Weather Service was budgeted $972.2 million in 2013. The weather service has a challenging task given the complexity of atmospheric systems and the overwhelming job of collecting observation data across such a broad geographic area. The weather service is expected to put out 7day forecasts as well as predictions for hurricanes, winter weather, flooding and severe thunderstorms which have a huge impact on public safety and property. The National Marine Fisheries Service was budgeted $880.3 million in 2013. With this budget, NMFS was expected to assess, monitor and manage over 250 known stocks of fish. Collecting data on marine fish is one of the most time consuming and expensive duties for any federal agency, yet there is no room in the current budget for NMFS to define with confidence how a farm in Idaho or a wastewater treatment facility in Ohio impacts phytoplankton levels in the Pacific or the recruitment of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico – but both of these entities impact marine fish, and on some level, the amount of fish available to the recreational sector. We currently do not have a complete understanding of ecological processes that influence fish populations. Furthermore, we have an even more difficult time incorporating climate and weather change in the context of the marine envi-

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ronment. Under single species management, there are many sources of uncertainty affecting stock assessments, including (1) imperfections in catch statistics, (2) imprecise estimates of biological parameters, (3) variability in fishery independent resource surveys, and (4) natural variability in biological processes, particularly in recruitment and natural mortality. If this uncertainty is pooled and then added to the even greater uncertainty associated with the atmospheric and terrestrial systems to accommodate this ecosystem based management model, the associated error would be exceedingly large. Without a massive budget, no less than double the current NMFS budget levels, ecosys-

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tem based management is a risky approach that if forced on the current management regime will certainly hurt fishermen. The Senate staff working draft also includes definitions for forage fish and a mandate that the scientific and statistical committees of each regional council shall develop annual recommendations for acceptable biological catch for forage fish. The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) has been a leader in calling for recognition that adequate forage fish levels are important, not only for recreational fishing opportunities but also necessary in order to fulfill rebuilding and ending overfishing requirements contained within MSA. In fact, RFA submitted comments to the

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Senate committee staff offering amendments to the proposed definition of forage fish while also suggesting that forage fish such as menhaden and herring simply be managed under MSA in federal waters. Putting more attention on ‘ forage fish ’ is a fairly sensible measure for MSA consideration – ‘ ecosystem based management’ on the other hand is years away and currently millions and millions of dollars off the present mark. Asking to see this catchy phrase written into the federal fisheries law may literally be a recipe for future fisheries disaster!

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Summer 2014

BILLFISH CONSERVATION ACT TYING UP LOOSE ENDS By Jim Hutchinson, Jr. October 5, 2012, President Barack Obama signed the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 into law.


ome of the earliest writeups in some of the national publications somewhat mistakenly described the Billfish Conservation Act as a new law which “bans

the importation of sailfish, marlin and spearfish in the continental United States,” or “prohibits the sale of all marlin, sailfish and spearfish in the United States.”

I say mistakenly because the law, restaurants and fish markets from regrettably, doesn’t really do any of San Diego, CA to Portland, ME to that. be “imported” fish, then by all means, this is probably good news. Sure, if you don’t consider 1.8 mil(It should be noted that California lion pounds of blue, black and

already prohibits commercial harvest of billfish in that state so there is essentially no net gain there.)

You see, the way the final law was written, the prohiThe Miami Herbition on Pacifald also ic billfish being jumped on the sold in the connews, reporttinental United ing that the The economic value of recreationally caught, and in the overwhelming number of cases States by way Billfish Conser- released, marlin and sailfish far outstrips their value as a commercially caught and killed com- of seafood modity. That was supposed to be at the heart of the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012. vation Act markets and “bans the importation of sailfish, striped marlin arriving annually restaurants from coast to coast marlin and spearfish in the conti- from longliners in Hawaii and the “does not apply to billfish caught nental United States.” Pacific Insular Area, destined for by US fishing vessels and landed in

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the State of Hawaii or Pacific Insular one having been signed into law. Areas.” 2011= “billfish may be sold under Notice the exemption? Not exactly this exemption only in Hawaii and subtle, is it? the Pacific Insular Area.”

ies with regard to the rulemaking process related to implementation of the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 noting this “glaring dilemma” what the law promises and what it Consider for a moment the original 2012= “billfish may be sold under actually can deliver.

Billfish Conservation Act of 2011 which was introduced in July of 2011; the earlier version of that legislation also had a subtle exemption to protect the traditional fisheries of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa and other Pacific Insular Areas which stated that “billfish may

be sold under this exemption only in Hawaii and the Pacific Insular Area.”

“Upon the passage and signing into law of the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012, RFA pointed out that the bill suffered from a lack of consistency between the intent of the sponsors and the actual wording of the legislation,” Donofrio wrote in his official comments, adding “The bill included a provision to allow for the continued commercial landing of Pacific billfish in Hawaii and other U.S. Pacific Islands as a way to protect the traditional markets that utilize Pacific billfish.”

Now, had that version of the law passed, Pacific marlin would only have been sold in Hawaii and within the Pacific Insular Areas for these traditional fisheries and only for local consumption there. ReHowever, the bill failed to grettably, commercial interests stipulate that those roughly were able to lobby for chang30,000 Pacific billfish per es to the bill. Given the fact year would not be exported that one single U.S. Senator to mainland markets; withcan effectively block just out these restrictions to the about any individual piece of mainland market and with legislation that moves Many Pacific nations have recognized the value of no mandated landing limits, through the U.S. Senate, par- recreationally caugtht and released billfish like this the only conservation affordticularly if he/she has the sen- striped marlin and afforded them true protection. ed to Pacific billfish was in iority in office, you can under- The Billfish Conservation Act as passed puts us well the bill’s title alone, Donofrio stand that some type of behind the curve. added. ‘compromise’ was imminent for this this exemption only in the United bill to move forward. RFA never believed it was the coStates and the Pacific Insular Area.” sponsors’ intention to mislead the Yes, both bills specifically state that As it is, the Recreational Fishing public and that there was really a the prohibition on the commercial Alliance (RFA) sees the new law as sincere interest in the conservation harvest and sale of billfish “does pretty clear in what it allows and of Pacific billfish. But RFA went on not apply to the State of Hawaii doesn’t allow. Which is why in re- to cite a substantial existing record and Pacific Insular Area,” but look sponse, last summer, RFA executive that we believe demonstrates the closely at the sticking point bedirector Jim Donofrio submitted intent by the authors, of Congress tween the two versions, the second official comments to NOAA Fisher- and by the President himself to pro-

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vide meaningful conservation to sentatives on September 10, 2012 Pacific billfish. “that the bill by eliminating the sale (of Pacific billfish) in the continental “Sportsmen all along the Gulf Coast US, passage of the bill will support and throughout the nation reeled the billfish population growth, a in a huge legislative victory with healthy ocean ecosystem and imSaturday’s successful passage of prove recreational fishing opportuthe Billfish Conservation Act of nities.”

2012. As strong advocates for sportsmen and their rights, I was proud to join forces with fellow Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus member, Senator David Vitter (LA), to achieve this important milestone in preserving our nation’s fishing heritage. Thanks to his efforts and the support we have both received from members throughout the sportsmen’s community, nearly two weeks after its passage through the House, the bill will be sent to the President’s desk.” (Representative

“My Billfish Conservation Act has long had strong bi-partisan support in the Senate, and our efforts-three years in the making- have finally come to fruition for the sportfishing and conservation communities. Louisiana is known as the sportsman’s paradise and we understand that it’s important to protect this majestic species, a real prize of recreational fishing.” (Senator David

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caught billfish, but not on Pacificcaught billfish. The Vitter-Miller legislation would put a ban on the sale of Pacific-caught billfish.” As RFA noted in our comments to NOAA Fisheries, it is clear that both the authors of S342 and HR2706 intended to provide protection to Pacific billfish by prohibiting their sale in markets on the Continental United States. The author’s consistently referenced the current prohibition on the sale of Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico billfish and claimed the passage of the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 would produce consistent regulations for both Atlantic and Pacific billfish and close loopholes.

Vitter, sponsor of S342, the Billfish That is why RFA has urged NOAA Conservation Act of 2012.) Fisheries to deliver the intent of the Jeff Miller, sponsor of HR2706, the Sen. Vitter’s September 24, 2012 Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 by Billfish Conservation Act of 2012) press release goes on to state, issuing regulations that prohibit In addition, Rep. Miller stated on “There is already a ban on commer- commercially caught Pacific billfish the floor of the House of Repre- cial harvest and sale of Atlantic landed in Hawaii and the U.S. Pacif-

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ic Islands from being transported or sold to mainland markets. Such a regulation put forth by the Commerce Department would preserve the traditional billfish market in Hawaii and the U.S. Pacific Islands while taking a necessary first step towards real conservation of the Pacific billfish resource.

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dence on their side in making mar- RFA believes that the authors and lin and sailfish a protected game- original cosponsors of the Billfish fish in the lower 48. Conservation Act of 2012 went to great lengths to equate their new In making the 1988 historic decilegislation to this historic decision sion to grant Atlantic billfish gameby NMFS in the 1980’s. That’s why fish status through a federal manRFA is encouraging NMFS to help agement plan, NMFS stated “the fulfill the spirit and intent of this greatest overall benefit to the na2012 legislation by prohibiting the tion will result from reserving to the domestic sale of billfish in the contiAs I write this report, the Office of extent possible, billfish occurring in nental United States. Sustainable Fisheries (OSF) over at the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries to the U.S. recreational fishery,” The ‘Act’ itself may have a loophole Service (NMFS) is drafting a pro- while adding that “to ensure that a or two; NMFS however and the posed rule on the Billfish Conserva- commercial market for billfishes U.S. Department of Commerce tion Act. While the very letter of does not develop, thus thwarting now hold the authority to tie up the law clearly gives commercial the objectives of this plan, the sale those loose ends for good, by givfishermen from Hawaii, Guam and of all species in the management ing Pacific billfish the same protecSamoa a clear market for billfish unit (from the same stock) is pro- tions enjoyed on the Atlantic side sales in the continental United hibited.” of the lower 48. States, NMFS and OSF have prece-

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RFA CHAPTER NEWS Reports & Updates from RFA State Chapters and Regional Directors

New England Update Capt. Barry Gibson, NE Regional Director Capt. Mike Pierdinock, RFA-MA Chapter

NMFS to New England’s For-Hire Sector: No Direct Fishery Aid Money for You In late May, the dispersal of the long-awaited $75 million appropriated by Congress to aid those affected by recent “fishery disasters” around the country finally became a reality. New England’s share was nearly $33 million, and earmarked to help fishermen who suffered from groundfish catch cutbacks starting in 2013.

In response, a number of us got together and came up with a formula based on the average number of groundfish vessel trip reports (VTRs) that party/charter captains had submitted in the past three years. That number of VTRs would be multiplied by some dollar amount, in order to fairly distribute a portion of the money to affected owners and operators.

However, when the dust settled, NMFS decided not to allocate a single penny directly to New England’s party/charter sector. Instead, holders of 336 commercial permits will receive $32,463 per permit, which will account for roughly one third of the entire $33 million. Another one third, or $11 million, is to be split by the states depending on the number of commercial groundfish fishermen in each state, basically to National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) be used for grants to the states’ fishermen. The Northeast Regional Administrator, John Bullard, remaining $11 was tasked with commillion will go toing up with a plan to wards funding a distribute the money. federal vessel Mr. Bullard convened and/or permit a meeting of his buy-back proGroundfish Economic gram. Coordinating CommitIs there any hope tee, of which I am a for New Engmember, to get input land’s for-hire as to what the plan groundfish operamight entail. At the tors, many of meeting, he specificalwhom have sufly asked for recomfered significant mendations as to how economic losses some of this money due to the implecould be distributed mentation of the to groundfish party/ commercial catch charter operators, For-hire vessels, headboats and charter boats, make their living taking share system who have clearly sufanglers fishing for cod and haddock, yet NMFS has decided they dealong with stifling fered along with comrecreational reserve no aid money like commercial vessels hurt by the mismanagemercial fishermen. strictions? Massament of the fisheries same fisheries they depend on.

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chusetts party/charter operators may have a shot at some of their state’s grant money, over $8 million, as MA recognizes the value of its for hire industry and is likely to try and help these operators, at least at some level. In contrast, New Hampshire and Maine will receive only around $600,000 of discretionary money, and there is zero likelihood that any of this will go to the for-hire sector. Neither state has demonstrated much interest in nurturing its recreational saltwater angler community and related businesses, or its for-hire sector, during the past several decades. The RFA believes strongly that NMFS has done a tremendous disservice to New England’s party/charter sector by not including these owners and operators in direct financial aid. After all, our groundfish operators are required to have federal operator ID cards (just like commercials), are required to have federal groundfish permits (just like commercials), are fishing on federally managed groundfish species (just like commercials), fish under federal catch restrictions (just like commercials), and are fishing in federal waters (just like commercials). And, we have been negatively impacted by recent federal management programs and restrictions (just like commercials). So, what is the difference? Why should for -hire operators be excluded from direct federal groundfish “disaster” funding?

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Stellwagen Bank waters that are not subject to commercial closure. After three years of nonstop pressure by these draggers, we are left with few legal-size cod or haddock available to private anglers or party/charter customers. I don’t blame this on the commercial fleet -- I blame it on the catch share system. The most recent ruling by NOAA to implement a cod and haddock fishing closure from September 1 st to April 15th now subjects us to a sevenmonth bottom fishing closure to anglers and for -hire vessels. We have gone from a year-round fishery that included charter trips during the winter months on Stellwagen Bank, to a four and-a-half month season and seven-and-a-halfmonth closure. At the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) meeting this past April, the Council appeared to be taking the first steps to address the pulse commercial fishing pressure

We are still waiting for answers to these questions, and the RFA will stay right on top of this issue until we get full transparency and/or New England’s party/charter sector gets the financial relief it so deserves.

Capt. Barry Gibson, New England Regional Director

From Sustainable Levels of Cod and Haddock to the Point of Collapse - Proposed Gulf of Maine Closure Area Recreational fishermen, as well as for-hire vessel operators, have observed the sustainable levels of cod and haddock in 2011 drop to the point of collapse in 2013 and 2014 as a result of the implementation of the flawed catch share system. We observed the constant pulse fishing pressure by the large commercial draggers in select areas associated with our nearby

Charter fishing trips are times for friends to experience the camaraderie of fishing together and to catch some great eating cod and haddock for the table. RFA’s Jim Donofrio (l) and Barry Gibson (r) after a charter trip fishing on Stellwagen Bank before catch shares were instituted and the large draggers wiped out the fishery for the for-hire sector.

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in our Stellwagen Bank waters that has resulted in this mess. What has been proposed is the demarcation of a Western Gulf of Maine boundary delineating an inshore versus offshore area that will limit the large commercial draggers as well as some other commercial vessels from fishing within this area. The present Western Gulf of Maine Closed Area (closed to commercial fishing) will be expanded farther eastward or westward of this existing boundary. They have proposed limiting large commercial fishing vessels from entering or fishing within these waters, or implementing possession limits that will be subject to changes annually. Naturally the large dragger owners and operators are adamantly against any changes to the existing flawed catch share system.

Summer 2014

draggers have other options, as they have the ability to fish in areas that require significant travel distances such as Georges Bank. Returning the cod and haddock stocks to sustainable levels cannot be achieved under the present catch-share management system. Appropriate changes need to be implemented to prevent overfishing. The NEFMC’s Groundfish Committee will meet to discuss proposals that may address these problems. The RFA will continue to monitor and attend the meetings and provide valuable input to ensure that appropriate changes will indeed be developed and moved forward. -- Capt. Mike Pierdinock, RFA-

MA Chapter


Recreational fishermen and for-hire vessels that fish the Stellwagen Bank waters are now forced to travel significant distances to access fish beyond Stellwagen area, and we cannot venture greater distances that are beyond the capability of a typical recreational vessel. To some extent the same problem exists for the small -boat commercial fleet as well. The large commercial

RFA-FL Capt. Tom Adams RFA-Forgotten Coast Chapter The Gulf has several issues that are currently at the forefront of concern for recreational fishermen. The 800-lb. gorilla is the ridiculous 9 day

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Summer 2014

red snapper season and the continued drive by EDF and its minions for sector separation and recreational catch shares. EDF and a group of commercial fishermen filed a l a w s ui t a g a i n s t t he N M F S f o r l e t t i n g t h e r e c r e a t i o n a l s e c t o r e x c e e d i t s t o t a l a l l ow a ble catch for red snapper. NMFS attorneys p u t u p a l o u s e d e f en s e o f t h e i r p o t i t i o n a n d l o s t t h e c as e h an d i l y a n d t h e n e x a c e r b a t ed t h e s i t u at i o n b y d e c i d i n g n o t t o a p p e a l t h e d e c is i o n . T h e r e s u l t w a s t h e s ho r t 4 0 d a y s n a p p e r s e a s o n w e h a d l a s t y ea r w a s r e d u c ed t o 1 1 d a y s ; w hi c h w a s t h en further reduced to 9 days because of the s t a t es o f L o u i s i a n a a n d F l o r i d a d e c i d i n g they’d had enough of the management coming out of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery M a n a g e m e n t C o u n c i l u n d e r t h e d i r e c t i on of Roy Crabtree and opted out, going non c o m p l i a n t w i t h t h e fe d e r a l r e g u l a t i o n s , a n d i n s t i t ut e d t h e i r o w n l o n g e r s e a s o n s f o r r e d s n a p p e r i n t h e i r S t at e w a t e rs .

months. 5)

Red snapper 9 days down from 40. This was historically a 180 day season.

W e l c o m e t o t h e w o rl d o f R o y C r a b t r e e , fishery manager extraordinaire. This is what you get when NOAA/NMFS teams up w i t h t h e l i k e s o f P EW , O C , a n d E D F t o s a v e o u r f i s h e r i e s . I t i s an o u t r a g e t h a t t h e s e e n vironmental radicals have such clout over s u p p o s e d o p e n a c c e s s f i s h e r ie s . L u c k i l y fo r us in North Florida we have Rep. Steve Southerland in Congress standing up for t h e r i g h t s o f a l l f i s he r m e n a n d o p e n a c c e s s f i s h e r i e s f o r a l l . I f w e d o n ’ t s t a n d t o g et h er—it will get worse. Also going on in the Panhandle of Florida don’t forget our annual MBARA Kingfish Tournament the last weekend of August.

On other fronts, thanks to Roy Crabtree and his cronies at EDF, along with the mise r a b l e j o b d o n e b y h i s f i s h c o u n t e r s w ho are responsible for tracking recreational l a n d i n g s a n d d i s g a rd s , r e c r e a t i o n a l f i s he r m a n i n t h e G u l f S t at e s a r e f a c i n g a s u m m e r that leave little reason to launch their b o a t s , hi r e a c h a r t e r b o a t o r g e t o n a n o p e n b o a t f o r a d a y ’ s f i s h i n g . H e r e ’ s w he r e it’s at: 1)

No triggerfish season. Usually a yearround fishery this year it is cut off as of May 1. Just who caught all these triggers from January to May to force the early closure? There was no one fishing recreationally to speak of for this species.


No Amberjack season. Another fishery that was usually open year round, the season is now closed for June and July with a very good possibility of it not re opening for the remainder of 2014.


Red Grouper season closes Sept 16 th, something that has never happened before and it comes on the heels of the four day bag limit being reduced to 3 per day. Red grouper was usually a 10 month sea- Red snapper isn’t the only fishery being lost to recreational fishermen in the Gulf. Popular species like red and gag son, now cut to 8 months.


Gag grouper Season opens July 1 for maybe 3 months. It used to be open 10

grouper will see the open season cut from ten to three months.

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RFA-NY New York Sportfishing Federation Jim Hutchinson, Jr. Big news for New York saltwater anglers this summer came on Tuesday, June 24th as state senator Lee Zeldin decisively won his primary race in New York's first congressional district. Comprised of very popular angling destinations like Brookhaven, Greenport, Riverhead, Southold, Shelter Island, the Hamptons and Montauk, the New York’s first congressional district has a heavy influence of saltwater fishermen who have essentially been shut out of the much of the national fisheries debate in recent years because of lack of Committee representation on Capitol Hill. The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) and our friends at the New York Sportfishing Federation are hoping that will change come following November’s mid-term elections. As state Senator in New York, Lee Zeldin always made recreational fishing a top priority working in Albany, and he's proven to be a leader who can work across both sides of the aisle. First elected to the New York senate in 2010, Zeldin was immediately successful in working across party lines to repeal a repressive saltwater fishing tax during his first term in office. He was re elected in 2012 and has continued to make saltwater fishing a priority during his time in the New York state capital.

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Albany, and he's pledged to continue that fight on behalf of coastal fishermen once he gets to Washington DC." "It's not often that RFA members get a chance to vote for a saltwater angler in a congressional election, that's why June 24th will be a big day for first district republicans in New York who will be heading to their local polling place," Donofrio noted. It in turn was a big day for New York, as our community is hoping to see an opportunity to have a New York representative on the House Natural Resources Committee come 2015. Being a saltwater angler himself, that could be a perfect fit for Lee! The First District campaign had turned ugly in recent months, much the same as earlier republican primaries in this region, with carpet bagger George Demos running a trashy and deceitful advertising campaign designed to slander Zeldin by using Demos' father-in-law's money which has also filled the coffers of leading California Democrats like Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D Calif.). Fact is, Demos had never reached out to the recreational fishing community during his attempts to unseat his fellow republicans, which Donofrio himself called suspicious. “He's not a real candidate, he's purely there on the June ballot as a Pelosi-democrat, an operative in place to disrupt the entire political process," said Donofrio.

Prior to taking political office, Zeldin was deployed to Iraq in 2006 with an infantry battalion of fellow paratroopers from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division. In 2007, he transitioned from active duty to the Army Reserves where he currently serves with the rank of Major. In 2008, Zeldin started a law practice in Smithtown, NY; he is also a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and the Jewish War Veterans.

In supporting Zeldin for Congress, Donofrio called him “the one candidate who's actually a saltwater angler himself, and who grew up in the district he represents…New York voters have a chance to send a fisherman to Washington DC, that's a great opportunity for all RFA members nationwide."

RFA executive director Jim Donofrio had been urging anglers who are registered republican in the first district of New York to turn out for the republican primary on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 to vote for Lee Zeldin for Congress. "Sen. Zeldin has been a champion for saltwater anglers in

On the other side of the aisle ( say what you

Learn more about Zeldin for Congress


must about New York, but with a republican senate, a democratic house and a saltwater angler for governor, we’re moving forward pretty nicely in the Empire State, thank you very much ), Governor Andrew Cuomo recently an-

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nounced that he was appointing Emerson Hasbrouck to serve as the state’s Governor Appointee to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASFMC).

regular meetings as well.

Emerson received his M.S. in Marine Science/ Fisheries Management from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and Emerson is From left to right, RFA managing director Jim Hutchinson, with GOP his B.S. in a Senior congressional candidate Lee Zeldin of New York and newly appointed Marine SciNatural Re- ASFMC commissioner from New York, Emerson Hasbrouck, talk fisheries ence from sources SouthampSpecialist and former Marine Program Director ton College of Long Island University – in othwith Cornell University Cooperative Exten- er words, fellow ASMFC commissioners will sion’s Marine Program based at the Cornell Co- have a formidable New York representative to operative Extension offices of Suffolk County, contend with in the future! Riverhead, NY. No stranger to the fisheries management arena, he has worked with New RFA and the New York Sportfishing Federation York’s commercial and recreational fishing are duly grateful to Governor Cuomo for this community for over 40 years. The Marine Pro- major appointment on behalf of New York’s gram is known and respected nationally and marine district. internationally in its mission to protect the wa- _________________________________________ ters and marine resources of Long Island. Emerson has been with the Marine Program for 26 years and he even worked for the National Marine Fisheries in the past! Those of us in the recreational fishing community in New York – private anglers and industry folks alike – have always appreciated Emerson’s work in implementing extension programs related to the effective conservation of marine resources, with a lot of attention to fisheries data, fisheries management and fisheries economic development for New York’s commercial and recreational fishing industries as well as the business that support these industries. We also have worked very closely with Emerson over the years in supporting the Long Island Sport Fishing Education Center in Babylon, NY, where a variety of children’s programs are coordinated by way of Cornell University – it’s where many of our local fishing clubs hold

RFA-TX Jim Smarr We are very pleased to say after 14 years of hard work fighting tooth and nail against one of Texas’ most powerful billionaire families we are seeing Cedar Bayou and Vinson’s Slough being restored. The story starts with a million plus yards of sand being illegally placed in the mouth of Vinson’s Slough, a 2,500 foot wide fish pass connecting the 78,000 acre Saint Charles Bay wetlands system to the Gulf of Mexico - not once but twice, first in 1987 and again in 1995. The illegal dam was 2500 feet wide and 40 plus feet high for perspective. The man responsible for the illegal dam was the then Chairman of Texas Parks and Wildlife and Chairman Emeritus of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA). The result of the illegal dam has

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been a total crash of the fisheries in the Coastal Bend with blue crab, flounder, speckled trout, redfish and shrimp populations all stressed to a point of collapse. All of these species have to make a migration to Gulf of Mexico to complete their life cycles, and simply put, closing the passes killed 30 thousand acres plus of sea grass beds - now salt flats - on San Jose Island which were prime nursery grounds. Had anyone else committed the crimes against nature as did the party involved they would have been jailed and fined to high heaven. The RFA-TX is proud of the fact that we joined Save Cedar Bayou, Inc. led by Lynn Edwards from Rockport, TX in her effort to restore both Cedar Bayou and Vinson’s Slough. We cut deals with the Texas General Land Office and Commissioner Jerry Patterson to help Lynn raise approximately $500K, we assisted Lynn all along the way whenever she had issues moving forward with the restoration project, and we jointly worked for 14 years to get the perfect permit application put together. For the first time a world-renowned engineering team was brought on board to ensure the success of the project. Damage assessments were estimated to be north of $60 billion to the ecosystem over the 29 years the passes were compromised due to the closing of the passes. The deaths from vibro, a saltwater born flesh eating virus, ballooned due to the closed ecosystem. Numerous lives and limbs were lost. Dr. Rita Colwell the foremost infectious disease expert on saltwater born illnesses stated in a letter opening the passes would be the single most important deterrent to vibro. Despite the fact we joined Cedar Bayou, Inc. and Mrs. Lynn Edwards in an effort to restore vital fresh saltwater inflows, RFA-TX was under constant attack by various federal and state agencies due what I strongly believe to be the influence of the Chairman Emeritus of CCA and TPWD. As Save Cedar Bayou, Inc. was submitting the final paperwork the RFA asked Aransas County Judge Bert Mills to come onboard as a local partner to help ease the permit process. He agreed to do so. Little did we know, he forced the issue to have the permit in the County of Aransas name instead of Save Cedar Bayou, Inc. – the good judge was lobbied immediately by some old friends and he ended up turning his back on

Making Waves |

Summer 2014

the dedicated team that had fought long and hard for 14 years to get the job done. It was once said that ‘success has many fathers.’ Save Cedar Bayou and its allies engaged in the ‘mother’ of all battles against one of Texas’ most powerful billionaires; yet after all these years of fighting tooth and nail to kill our project just to protect one of their own, those wealthy conservationists are claiming ‘fatherhood’ to a once orphaned ecosystem. The Texas chapter of the RFA, along with the national office, can hold heads high and know (as do most Texas grassroots activists) - had it not been for Lynn Edwards, president of Save Cedar Bayou, and the perseverance of RFA-TX, the passes would have never been restored. RFA-TX wants to thank Mrs. Edwards, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterso, Coast and Harbor Engineering, Graden McVay (former Save Cedar Bayou president who was ousted by local CCA over his efforts to open Vinson’s Slough) and the many volunteers that spent years of very hard work to see the day when the passes were restored. Regrettably, the restoration project to restore one of the most pristine areas on the planet has received little or no national attention - the Department of Commerce is quick to celebrate their efforts to restore 3,000 acres of sea grass per year, yet this grassroots effort resulted in 10X that success with 30,000 plus acres restoring fresh saltwater inflows to help reduce hyper saline issues in the entire 78,000 acres of the Saint Charles Bays wetlands area. Once the passes are open and flushing the bays once again we believe the ecosystem will rebound quickly. Thanks to all that helped along the way.

Watch These Pages for more RFA Chapter and Regional News!

The RFA Mission Safeguard the rights of saltwater anglers Protect marine, boat and tackle industry jobs Ensure the long-term sustainability of our nation’s fisheries. Anti-fishing groups and radical environmentalists are pushing their agenda on marine fisheries issues affecting you. The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) is in the trenches too, lobbying, educating decision makers and ensuring that the interests of America’s coastal fishermen are being heard loud and clear. Incorporated in 1996 as a 501c4 national, grassroots political action organization, RFA represents recreational fishermen and the recreational fishing industry on marine fisheries issues on every coast, with state chapters established to spearhead the regional issues while building local support. “The biggest challenge we face is the fight to reform and bring common sense and sound science into the fisheries management process, says James Donofrio, RFA founder and Executive Director. “Anti-fishing and extreme environmental groups are working everyday to get us off the water.” Despite the threats to diminish access to our nation’s resources, Donofrio says that RFA offers members hope in an organization that’s designed from the ground up to fight back. “As individuals, our concerns will simply not be heard; but as a united group, we can and do stand up to anyone who threatens the sport we enjoy so much – fishing!” After more than a dozen years working inside the Beltway and within state capitols along the coast, RFA has become known as one of the nation’s most respected lobbying organizations, and our members have a lot to celebrate.

The Recreational Fishing Alliance Headquarters P.O. Box 3080 New Gretna, New Jersey 08224 Phone: 1-888-564-6732 toll free Fax: (609) 294-3812 Jim Donofrio Executive Director

Capt. Barry Gibson New England Regional Director

Jim Martin West Coast Regional Director

Jim Hutchinson Jr Managing Director

Gary Caputi Corporate Relations Director

John DePersenaire Policy & Science Researcher

Cover & Background Designs by

Profile for Recreational Fishing Alliance

Making Waves - Summer 2014  

The Official News Magazine of the Recreational Fishing Alliance

Making Waves - Summer 2014  

The Official News Magazine of the Recreational Fishing Alliance

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