Making Waves |
Volume 1, Issue 1
Volume 1, Issue 1 August/September 2012
Inside this issue:
FROM THE PUBLISHER’S DESK Gary Caputi Welcome to the inaugural issue of Making Waves, an official publication of the Recreational Fishing Alliance. In an effort to better communicate with our rapidly growing membership, members of affiliated organizations, individuals and groups concerned with the work of the RFA this newsletter will be published electronically on a bi -monthly schedule. Each issue will be archived for future reference at www.joinrfa.org. We have chosen an electronic platform for the newsletter for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the ability to include hyperlinks like the one above. This great tool allows you to obtain additional information on the subjects written about in these pages with a simple click of your mouse. It’s a tool that cannot be recreated in a printed publication and we are excited about the avenues it will open in our efforts to better educate our members and readers on so many
important issues the RFA is involved with as part of its mission. In addition to links, an electronic format allows more publishing flexibility and does away with the high costs of printing and postage required to produce, publish and distribute a printed newsletter. Under the current economic conditions every dollar has to be stretched to the max. Like most of you the RFA is forced to do more with less at a time when we need a strong voice that is truly representative of recreational fishermen in Washington, DC and State Houses around the country. The RFA has always been a frugal organization that squeezes every last penny out of the donations and membership dues provided by our members. The remarkable thing is how effective it has remained over the past 15 years regardless of the budget constraints placed on it. The credit goes to a small core group of highly dedi-
cated employees and the passionate volunteers and members who realize we are fighting for our very right to fish in the face of opponents with almost limitless funds. Yet the RFA’s political effectiveness remains intact and is stronger than ever. Before you move on to the following pages let me say a word about our sponsors and advertisers who you will see in this and upcoming issues of Making Waves. These companies are spending a portion of their hard-earned resources to help make this newsletter possible and in the process bringing their marketing message to you. Let them know you appreciate their support by clicking on their links and remembering them when you are planning a purchase. We are in this together and together we can secure sustainable fisheries and reasonable access for us and future generations.
Executive Director’s 4 Report: Casting Your Vote RFA Issues & News
Breaking Legislative News
10 Survey Says. . . The History & Future of Recreational Angler Data Collection
Profiles: Barry Gibson, New England Regional Director
Op-Ed: Rep. Doc Hastings on Obama;s Ocean Policy Debacle
20 SKA & RFA: Working Together to Protect the Future of Recreational Fishing
State Chapter News RFA Boots on the Ground Around the Nation
Trip of a Lifetime Winner 2012
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Executive Director’s Report CASTING YOUR VOTE The Most Important Election of Our Lifetime By Jim Donofrio, RFA Executive Director
As a fisherman and a patriot, I’m sure you have the same concerns as we have here at the national office of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) with regard the future state of this great nation. I know that for many fishermen, the partisan nature of political debate can be extremely frustrating. There are plenty of casual anglers along the coast that don’t want anything to do with the political nature of fisheries and the debate that often ensues, but the fact remains; politics and coastal fishing are forever intertwined. And without debate, you are left without democracy. The late Tip O’Neil from Massachusetts who was Speaker of the House from 1977 until his retirement in 1987 probably put it best when he said that “All politics is local,” the principle that any legislator’s success in Washington was tied directly to his understanding of the local issues back at home. For those of us who live, work and play along the coast, responsible access to a healthy fishery is a local issue of monumental importance, and one tied directly to what goes on in Washington DC every single day. From the RFA’s perspective, the Obama Administration, through NOAA Fisheries appointed staff and leadership, has been the most hostile towards recreational fishermen of our time. Catch share privatization schemes, a National Ocean Policy passed by executive order, and stubborn interpretation and enforcement of restrictive fisheries measures in the form of annual catch limits
with corresponding “accountability measures” without incorporation of Congressionally mandated data collection reforms tells us that the current Administration is little more than a political arm of groups like Pew Environment Group and the Environmental Defense Fund. RFA has been critical of the environmental movement in the 21st Century; even grassroots advocates of clean water and healthy resource have agreed with many of our positions – although often times quietly so to avoid persecution themselves
RFA believes that this November will be the most important election of our lifetimes... by the ‘black tie’ preservationists who control the purse strings. After nearly 40 years of successful conservation efforts leading to rebuilding and sometimes ‘fully rebuilt’ fisheries, much of the ‘showroom environmentalism’ in the nation today seems more about personal power and preservation over conservation and sustainable access to our natural public resources. A non-partisan political action organization with a long, 16-year track record of supporting candidates from both sides of the aisle, RFA is staunchly supporting Governor Mitt Romney in the upcoming election for the presidency. We understand that there are no guarantees from the Romney camp; however I can tell you honestly that it will only get worse with four more years of Barrack Obama at the helm of this ship.
I and the RFA staff have worked hard over the past 6 months and feel strongly about the access to Governor Romney’s top advisors, and we have been honest in letting Team Romney know about our concerns and issues in coastal fisheries – specifically, your concerns and issues! Since founding the RFA back in 1996, I have enjoyed some very good relationships with key legislators and appointed officials throughout the United States, from the White House through Congress on down to NOAA Fisheries itself. The last 31/2 years have not been good times for anyone in our recreational fishing community, and that has to change in 2013. Let’s hope after November that we won’t have to worry as much about the future of our nation and the state of our saltwater resources. While RFA is often brutally honest and straight to the point, we remain optimistic about our local issues along the coast and the future of the United States of America. Those willing to debate the local issues are typically the ones focused on resolving the local issues – they are also the ones most likely to turn out at the polls to cast their vote. RFA believes that this November’s election will be the most important one of our lifetimes, and we’re glad you’ll be there to take part!
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RFA Issues & News By Jim Hutchinson, RFA Managing Director
Each news item includes a corresponding hyperlink. For more information, simply click on the link to read the release in its entirety.
GULF ANGLERS GET SIX-DAY REPRIEVE
The 2012 red-snapper season which was originally scheduled to end on July 10th was extended by six days (through July 16th) when regulators agreed to compensate for several weeks of bad weather, including the devastating effects of Tropical Storm Debby. The original season was only supposed to last 40 days, one of the shortest recreational seasons on record, but federal regulators agreed to increase the number of available fishing days for anglers following a written appeal by members of Congress representing Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, and Arkansas who called the 40-day red snapper season "a window that is too short to make a living and being made shorter by the devastating summer weather." RFA News 6/28/12 NY/NJ SALTWATER ANGLERS EMBRACE FREE FISHING
After a three-year debate as to what a saltwater angler registration system would actually cost the state, New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection conceded earlier this year that the projected annual operating costs for the program moving forward amount to just $73,600, a far cry from the $600,000 to $1.2 million which some public sector lobbying groups proposed. Meeting requirements of the 2006 Magnuson Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act requiring all states to store saltwater angler contact information for federal survey purposes, both New York and New Jersey responded with ‘no cost’ angler registry programs to the delight of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, individual anglers and local business owners. RFA News 6/18/12. NEW ENGLAND ANGLERS CAUGHT UP IN CATCH SHARES
In 2010, Environmental Defense Fund officially saw their new Limited Access Privilege Programs launched in New England's ground fishery with the support and encouragement of NOAA Fisheries. Two years later, the Gulf of Maine (GOM) cod stock has been decimated by the large-scale commercial fleet. According to the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), which has been leading the charge in opposition to coastal catch share programs since the Magnuson reauthorization, unless the U.S. Senate follows action approved by the House of Representatives on May 8th and also votes to stop funding of this controversial new fisheries scheme, the spread of catch shares in regional finfish management could lead to devastating consequences in localized coastal fisheries in other regions as well. RFA News, 6/6/12 SENATE HEARING ON FISHERIES TO COME THIS FALL
Following five years of diminished access, and a pair of national rallies in Washington DC, it appears that coastal fishermen will finally get a chance to be heard before the U.S. Senate. United States Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) announced that he has secured a commitment to hold congressional oversight hearings this fall on the Magnuson -Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the federal law which governs how our coastal fisheries are managed. "This hearing will finally give a national voice to the concerns that have been raised by Long Island anglers for years that faulty science and excessively strict quotas are decimating this industry," said Schumer. Calling it "long overdue,” Sen. Schumer followed up on his personal pledge to fishermen at the Keep Fishermen Fishing rally on March 21 to call on Congress to begin hearings on Magnuson reform this year. “Unfortunately, the industry is being stifled by regulations which are sorely in need of change," Schumer added. RFA News, 6/4/12.
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NOAA SAYS MORE FISH MEANS LESS FISHING
Following an updated population assessment that shows overfishing of Gulf of Mexico red snapper has ended and the population is rebounding, NOAA Fisheries increased both the 2012 commercial and recreational fishing catch limits as of June 1. Regrettably, NOAA Fisheries said that as the population of red snapper grows and the fish get bigger, anglers catch their quota faster resulting in shorter seasons like the one experienced by Gulf anglers this summer. RFA executive director Jim Donofrio says a regulatory package is currently being discussed by staff members at the House Natural Resources Committee which could help correct the major problems with the present fisheries law, but he said Committee members will need to get heavily involved in the process to ensure that any fisheries reform bill has the language necessary to get the job done. "Some folks are pushing for language which would only provide relief in those fisheries that a stock assessment hasn't been conducted in the past 5 years, which wouldn't do anything to help with red snapper." RFA News, 6/1/2012. HOUSE RESPONDS TO GRASSROOTS ANGLER SUPPORT
Less than 24 hours after the House of Representatives approved a bipartisan (220-191) measure to close the funding loophole created by environmental special interest groups to expand Limited Access Privilege Programs or "catch shares," along the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico, the House then approved an amendment which would halt funding for the implementation of Executive Order 13547, President Obama's ocean zoning and National Ocean Policy. RFA executive director Jim Donofrio called the one-two punch significant in terms of the national efforts to overturn the past 4 years of agenda-driven policy efforts against the will of U.S. coastal residents. "The vote to halt funding on efforts which would deny Americans access to our coastal waters and privatize our marine fish stocks is not partisan in nature. This is not about Democrats or Republicans it's about protecting the rights and heritage of our coastal residents." RFA News, 5/10/12.
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Breaking Legislative News AUGUST 6, 2012 : Congressman Southerland Co-Sponsors Magnuson Reform Legislation Congress Schedules Field Hearing for August 25, 2012 in Panama City, Florida This just in! The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) was notified by our friends in Congress that the House Natural Resources Committee will be holding a field hearing in Florida on August 25, 2012. The hearing is entitled, “Fishing = Jobs: How Strengthening America’s Fisheries Strengthens Our Economy,” and will feature Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) as well as Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL) from Florida’s 2nd Congressional District. The hearing will be held on August 25 at 10 a.m. in the Lecture Hall at the Holley Academic Center at Florida State University, 4750 Collegiate Drive in Panama City, FL. Witnesses are by invitation only, but the public is invited to attend to provide feedback on how the health of the Gulf of Mexico and its fishery resources affect the entire economy of Florida. The hearing will give Committee Members an opportunity to get a more detailed view of the challenges faced by Gulf fishermen, specifically regarding how outdated scientific information may be limiting harvest levels; and to what extent governmental programs like catch shares, annual catch limits, and the National Ocean Policy will affect coastal fisheries in the future. RFA members and staff are expected to be in attendance, including RFA’s Forgotten Coast chairman Capt. Tom Adams, as well as RFA corporate relations director Gary Caputi. The hearing is open to the public and a live video stream will be broadcast at (Click Here). Also in late August, Rep. Southerland announced that he was also co-sponsoring legislation in Congress aimed at remedying longstanding concerns with the Magnuson-Stevens Act. H.R. 6350, the Transparent and Science-Based Fishery Management Act of 2012, will address inequities in annual catch limits, catch shares in the Gulf of Mexico, rebuilding flexibility, NOAA enforcement, and disaster assistance, among other issues. “I have heard from anglers from across North and Northwest Florida who have asked me to act as their voice in Washington,” Southerland said. “I am pleased to be part of this important effort to make federal fisheries policy more responsive to the needs of our recreational and commercial fishermen.” RFA executive director Jim Donofrio has consistently praised Rep. Southerland for his staunch positions in Congress on behalf of coastal fishermen, and said anglers in Florida’s 2nd Congressional district need to turn out the vote in favor of Southerland in November. “Mr. Southerland is a patriot, a champion for the an-
When Congressman Southerland addressed fishermen at the rally in Washington, DC last March he promised action. He is living up to that promise and more!
glers’ rights and that makes him a true champion of our oceans,” Donofrio said, adding “we need more members of Congress like Steve Southerland.” Since the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act back in 2007, RFA has spearheaded congressional efforts to reopen this federal fisheries law, calling the restrictive language included in the law through the unanimous consent vote by the Senate in late 2006 a disservice to coastal fishing communities. Environmental non-government groups (ENGO’s) have lobbied extensively to keep the law completely intact while several conservation groups have spent significant time on Capitol Hill influencing members of Congress to ignore grievances from within the coastal fishing communities. A change in House leadership in 2010 and a pair of national fishing rallies in Washington over the past 2 years has contributed to the great progress in the House Natural Resources Committee and its oceans subcommittee, which is where U.S. fisheries issues are discussed and debated. “By improving methods for setting annual catch limits, prohibiting the expansion of catch share programs without a referendum, and strengthening accountability measures for federal officials who collect fisheries data and determine disaster assistance, this legislation empowers our fishermen and strengthens our coastal economies,” Southerland said about the new legislation. Joining Southerland as original cosponsors of H.R. 6350 are Frank Guinta (R-NH), Frank LoBiondo (R-FL), David Rivera (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and the bill’s primary sponsor, Jon Runyan (R-NJ).
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SURVEY SAYS. . .
The History and Future of Recreational Angler Data Collection By John DePersenaire RFA Fisheries Policy & Science Researcher
Editorâ€™s Note: Fishermen have been waiting a long time for a revised and improved system for estimating recreational landings and releases while the deadline set by Congress has been largely ignored by NOAA Fisheries. With the new MRIP program finally coming on line the question remainsâ€Śis it really any better than MRFSS? In this revealing review by RFA Fisheries Policy & Science Researcher, John DePersenaire, you will learn some disturbing truths!
onitoring the amount of fish that commercial and recreational fishermen catch and land is a federally mandated requirement assigned to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under the US Department of Commerce. The careful monitoring of landings data is important when assessing the size and composition of a fish stock and when determining the performance of a fishery and to achieve the desired level of fishing mortality. Accuracy and timeliness of this information is critical to ensure that fishermen are afforded reasonable access to a stock base on the best information available while complying with the conservation goals mandated by the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA).
COMMERCIAL VERSUS RECREATIONAL LANDINGS DATA When a commercial fishing vessel brings its catch to the dock, the fish are boxed and weighed. Electronic reporting provides fishery managers with near real-time landings data. This approach helps keep an accurate count of commercial landings for regulated
species because every vessel and fish buyer is permitted and timely reporting is required and monitored; however, it is not a practical approach in the recreational sector where there are millions of anglers fishing from shore, private vessels, piers, aboard for-hire and headboat vessels and landing fishing on both public and private lands. The federal government
NMFS programs that track actual commercial landings and discards provide accurate data while MRFSS and MRIP are nothing more than attempts at estimating recreational participation, landings and release mortality and are prone to glaring inaccuracies.
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does not have the resources to account for every fish that is landed by recreational fishermen. In response to a growing need recreational data, NMFS developed a survey-based monitoring program in 1979 geared toward the more commonly encountered species. The purpose of the survey, called the Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey (MRFSS), was to estimate trends in recreational participation, effort, catch and harvest across all modes of recreational fishing.
phone and (B) willingness of anglers to provide information. Consistent with the design and purpose of the MRFSS program, the estimates produced provide managers with little more than trends in recreational fishing over multi-
questionable management decisions and general distrust of the decisions made based on MRFSS data by the angling community.
CONGRESS SAYS: IT’S BROKE—FIX IT! The reauthorization of MSA in 1996 brought about significant changes to the federal fisheries management process. Fixed rebuilding time frames for overfished stocks were mandated along with the implementation of national standards that expressed 10 primary objectives for managers to use as guidance to ensure MRFSS utilizes a teleoptimum yield and phone survey to ransustainability of the domly call housenation’s marine reholds from coastal sources. Coupled phonebooks along with lawsuits with an access-point brought against the intercept survey conU.S. Department of sisting of interviewCommerce by enviers speaking directly ronmental groups to returning anglers including Natural about what they Resources Defense caught. The phone Council, Environsurvey was intended mental Defense to collect inforFund, and Audubon, mation to create parthe 1996 reauthoriticipation and effort RFA Executive Director Jim Donofrio has testified before Conzation forced fisherestimates, while the gress on numerous occasions on MSA reform and the need to ies managers to intercept survey improve recreational data programs. begin using MRFSS would collect bioin an inappropriate logical and harvest composition ple years and broad geographical manner, and much to the detridata. Today, MRFSS still functions scales. In fact, MRFSS becomes ment of the recreational fishing technically and technologically more accurate as the time series community. the same 33 after its inception and geographic area are inwith a very low level of precision. creased; however, it simply cannot Though the limitations of MRFSS to monitor trends in the recreaThe primary limitations of this sur- provide real-time data and was tional sector were commonly unvey approach are (A) the accuracy never designed to do so. Over the derstood, managers were forced of memory of anglers surveyed by years that has led to many highly
to begin using MRFSS data on a state-by-state basis and even broken down into six-two month waves simply because they had nothing else to use so it was give the dubious distinction of being the “best available science” to meet the challenges of federal law and legal judgments brought about by the Courts. In response to significant dissatisfaction and debate expressed during several congressional hearings from the recreational fishing sector, scientists, fishery managers and legislators, the National Research Council (NRC) was charged with doing an in depth review of MRFSS. A committee composed of 10 leading academics in mathematics, statistics, and survey design analyzed the programs and made recommendations for improvement, which were published in 2006. The damming conclusion confirmed what anglers knew all along, that “the designs, sampling strategies, and collection methods of recreational fishing surveys do not provide adequate data for management and policy decisions.” The report also included 23 specific recommendations on how to improve the survey design which would ultimately result in better estimates on recreational catch. ANOTHER ACT OF CONGRESS MSA was again reauthorized in 2007 with two new that would further stretch the limitations of MRFSS; annual catch limits and accountability measures. Annual Catch Limits (ACL) established a hard quota allocation for commercial and recreational fishermen each year, while Accountability Measures (AM) would mandate
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the use of mechanisms like inseason emergency closures to ensure the catch limit is not exceeded. While the intent of these two provisions might be construed as being consistent with a sound conversation approach, both require a level of accuracy and timeliness for recreational harvest data that is not achievable with any survey-based monitoring program and that is the only data available for the recreational sector. Recreational fishermen would be adversely impacted by these two new provisions in the law! To meet this obvious conflict, the 2007 reauthorization of the MSA also included a section (401(g)) requiring improvements to the recreational data collection program. This section calls for the creation of a registry program of saltwater anglers with the federal government or state agencies gathering participation data to eliminate random calling of names and numbers and to provide a known universe of anglers to replace the questimate determined by poling. It also mandated improving MRFSS by utilizing input from fishermen, scientists and the findings of the NRC no later than January 1, 2009. In addition, four of twenty-three NRC recommendations to improve MRFSS were also incorporated into the federal law, including the creation of a known sampling frame, increasing the number of accesspoint intercepts, utilizing trip data from for-hire vessels, and establishing an independent committee of fishermen and scientist to review catch estimates. One added improvement not suggested by the NRC was added to the reauthori-
zation language—the development of a weather corrective factor that can be applied to recreational catch and effort estimates. SON OF MRFSS It was widely predicted that implementation of these recommendations would result in positive impacts on MRFSS. However, it was also understood that even with these improvements it would never be at a level of accuracy and timeliness achieved in the commercial sector or to administer annual catch limits and accountability measures in fair, responsible manner. It’s been 5-1/2 years since the Magnuson-Stevens Act was signed into law, and while some effort has been made to comply with section 401(g), the mission is most certainly not accomplished. While NMFS has implemented the federal saltwater angler registry as of 2010 (one year late) incorporating state saltwater license or registry programs, the federal requirements calling for MRFSS to be replaced by a new program as of January 1, 2009 have still not been met. NMFS only recently rolled out a new program called the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) with the intention of reducing biases and improving accuracy and timeliness. MRIP basically uses the same methodologies as MRFSS but incorporates a known sample frame. The goals of reducing biases and improving accuracy and timeliness were expected to be achieved primarily from the utilization of a known universe of fishermen. While the efficiency of the survey should be improved, the survey itself still relies primarily on the accuracy of angler recall and
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willingness to volunteer information. These two limitations were identified by the NRC as being significant shortcomings of survey-based data collection programs. NMFS recently provided the public with an opportunity to compare catch estimates created through both programs. In general, the variation in catch estimates between the two methodologies is insignificant. This is most likely due to the fact that NMFS continues to use the old MRFSS program to estimate the number of anglers, despite that fact that most saltwater anglers are required to register with the federal government or state agency or purchase a saltwater fishing license in some states. It has been observed that most of the MRFSS estimates for participation are over 100% higher than the number of fishermen that have physically registered or purchased a license. This overestimation was also corroborated by comparative analysis of U.S. Fish and Wildlife data. Overestimating the number of anglers will obviously have a significant impact on the accuracy of the catch estimates and is a great source of concern as annual catch limits and accountability measures are imposed on the recreational sector. PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS On face value, MRIP should represent an improvement over the original MRFSS program. However, one must be careful about overstating the magnitude of the improvement. Utilizing a universal sample frame as opposed to a random sample frame does not neces-
sarily mean the resulting estimates will be more accurate. This can be illustrated in political polls were the results can vary significantly between a random survey of the general population and a survey of registered voters. Furthermore, only calling fishermen that have declared to the federal government or state agency that he/she are fishing precludes surveyors from speaking to someone who many not have had the a in a particular year and therefore did not register or purchase a license. This approach creates a new bias because a broad group of the general coastal population was called, not just fishermen and it can influence “catch per unit effort” estimates and ultimately, estimates on harvest that are reported to managers. For this reason, it will be necessary for the MRIP to operate for several years and be thoroughly reviewed by the NRC for fishermen to fully trust the system. Much still needs to be done before NMFS is in full compliance with the MSA section 401(g). They have not increased the number of access-points intercepts, they continue to use the old MRFSS program to estimate effort and participation and they’re using little if any of the information gathered from the forhire vessel trip reports. Furthermore, NMFS has not yet developed a weather corrective factor as required by Congress, despite the fact that NMFS and the National Weather Service are both operate under the NOAA umbrella. THE BOTTOM LINE: MRIP IS NOT VERY CONFIDENCE INSPIRING! MRIP is not significantly different from MRFSS. Both systems use sur-
vey-based methodologies that are good at estimating trends in catch, harvest and effort but are not adequate for real-time monitoring, quota monitoring on a small geographic scales, or accurately monitor quotas on an annual basis. At the same time, National Marine Fisheries Service continues to enforce the application of annual catch limits and accountability measures on the recreational sector knowing full well their data collection system is inadequate and that they are delinquent on many federally mandated provisions to improve it. Pass or fail, the most critical component for understanding and possibly improving our recreational data collection in coastal fisheries is for the federal government to meet its Congressional mandate – and for the National Research Council to reconvene in order to reassess the revised program and determine if it is providing the level of accuracy for the data required by the MSA. John DePersenaire has been em-
ployed by the Recreational Fishing Alliance since 2002. He holds a degree in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and worked as a field agent and environmental consultant on wetlands delineation prior to coming to the RFA as our chief fisheries policy and science researcher. He counts spear fishing and fishing with rod and reel among his favorite pursuits. His background in marine sciences and fisheries management have made him an invaluable member of the RFA team.
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profiles Barry Gibson, RFA New England Regional Director
ince retiring from his long-held position as editor of Salt Water Sportsman magazine, the country’s oldest and most prominent saltwater fishing periodical, the RFA has been blessed to have Barry Gibson on staff as its New England Regional Director. A native of Massachusetts who moved permanently to Maine in 2005, Gibson has an extensive background as a well -traveled angler, light tackle guide, charter captain, writer and editor. He has been fishing for-hire out of Boothbay Harbor since 1971, when
he bought his first charterboat and named it the Sasanoa. Since then he has owned a succession of boats, all named Shark as a tribute to Joe Russell, a Key West charter captain who guided Ernest Hemingway from his boat of the same name. Barry met and fished with Russell in 1967. Gibson spend much of his chartering career catching groundfish, sharks and giant bluefin tuna offshore from his cutting-edge, 36’ Downeast sportfisherman, the Shark IV, built in 1993. He sold it in 2005 and purchased a 24’ center console to refocus his expertise on light tackle inshore fishing. With a
great deal of his time spent running the editorial side of Salt Water Sportsman and living between the magazine’s headquarters in Boston and his home in East Boothbay, he had less time to devote to charter fishing. In 2008 he purchased a 28’ Whitewater center console, which he fishes today in Maine’s beautiful Sheepscot/ Kennebc River systems, adjacent bays and offshore waters from June through October taking a select clientele out for striped bass, bluefish and bluefin tuna. He worked for Salt Water Sportsman for 27 years initially under the iconic
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leadership and tutelage of Hal When he’s not attending NEFMC meetings, working on forage species issues or pressing Lyman and Frank Woolner, the the case for recreational fishermen in management plans you can find Gibson fishing the magazines founders. After five beautiful coast of Maine. years he was promoted to editor, a position he held for 23 years. His dedication to excellence was in strong part responsible for the publication’s incredible growth and the development of a loyal readership. While there he penned hundreds of articles that appeared in its pages and gained an enviable reputation with the writers who work with him. In addition his writing has appeared in numerous outdoor magazine including Outdoor Life, Field & Stream, Yachting, MotorBoating, Offshore, Tide, the Fisherman, Striped Bass, Fishing Facts, Striper and Sports Illustrated. After leaving Salt Water Sportsman Barry served as editor of back in the early 1980’s, and in 1986 ational side, so our input is important.” Center Console Angler and associate was appointed to the New England Gibson says he has really enjoyed his publisher of Fish Boats Registry maga- Fishery Management Council, on relationship with the RFA for the past zines, and has been the saltwater col- which he served for nine years. Durseven years. “One of the great things umnist for Maine Sportsman since ing his tenure on the Council he was about being an RFA representative at 1985. He has appeared on numerous particularly active in cod, haddock, fishery meetings is that everyone television shows including Fishing and flounder management, and knows exactly where I’m coming from. New England; Mark Sosin’s Saltwater served four years as chairman of the They may not all agree with me, but Journal; On the Hook and George Groundfish Committee. “The early 90’s they know my agenda. I’m an advoPoveromo’s World of Saltwater Fish- were pretty dismal days,” he recalls. cate for the recreational sector, and ing. He is a frequent guest speaker at “The cod had started to collapse, and I‘m always pushing to make sure that outdoor clubs and fishermen’s associa- we knew we had to cut back on sport fishermen get full and appropritions in the off-season and co-hosts catches, but many in the commercial ate access to our fishery resources, the New England installment of the fishing industry were still making which is RFA’s mission as well. EverySalt Water Sportsman National Semi- good money and didn’t want to give one in New England knows I’m a connar Series. Barry also serves as a vice- up any fish. It was a difficult time, but servationist, but they also know that I president of the Northeast Charter- we got through it.” won’t roll over and accept restrictive boat Captains Association (which he In 1998, two years after his Council measures that aren’t based on good co-founded in 1988) and is the chairterm expired, Gibson was appointed science.” man of the Saltwater Fishing Commitchairman of the Council’s newlyGibson also says that having a nationtee for the Sportsman’s Alliance of formed Recreational Advisory Commital organization behind him is extremeMaine. In addition he’s an NRAtee, a position he continues to hold ly helpful. “I feel I have some real certified pistol instructor, a member of today. “We advise the council on rechorsepower behind me when I testify the Boothbay Port Committee, an avid reational measures,” he explained. at meetings or write letters to fishery collector of antique fishing tackle, and “We often have to make some tough officials or members of congress. RFA’s when he has to get away from it all he decisions as to how we (the recreathousands of members, along with retreats to the Rangeley Lake region tional sector) will reduce mortality to our recreational fishing industry supof Maine to fly fish for trout. meet stock rebuilding targets, but it’s porters, combine to deliver a lot of A long-time proponent of responsible much better for our committee of clout. Our testimony gets listened to fishery management, Gibson served charter captains and anglers to make and carefully considered. That’s what on the Advisory Committee for the these decisions rather than to leave it it’s all about.” International Commission for the Con- to the Council. Many Council memservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) bers don’t really understand the recre-
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Op-Ed courtesy FoxNews.com
Obama’s National Ocean Policy threatens jobs and economic activities onshore and off. By Rep. “Doc” Hastings (Chairman – House of Representatives: Natural Resources Committee)
In the famous poem “Paul Revere’s Ride,” Revere instructs his fellow patriots to use lanterns to signal whether there’s an attack coming by land or sea. While we may no longer have to fear the British, Americans should be warned of a new threat coming by sea in the form of President Obama’s National Ocean Policy and ocean zoning initiative. President Obama is using the ocean as his latest regulatory weapon to impose new bureaucratic restrictions on nearly every sector of our economy. While marketed as a common sense plan for the development and protection of our oceans, it is instead being used to create a massive new bureaucracy that would harm our economy. Established through Executive Order, Mr. Obama with a simple stroke of a pen took unilateral action to impose a massive top-down federal bureaucracy with broad regulatory control over our oceans, Great Lakes, rivers, tributaries and watersheds. The Executive Order creates a tangled web of regulatory layers that includes: 10 National Policies; a 27member National Ocean Council; an 18-member Governance Coordinating Committee; and 9 Regional Planning Bodies. This has led to an addi-
tional: 9 National Priority Objectives; 9 Strategic Action Plans; 7 National Goals for Coastal Marine Spatial Planning; and 12 Guiding Principles for Coastal Marine Spatial Planning. Imposing mandatory ocean zoning could place huge portions of our oceans and coasts off-limits, seriously curtailing recreational activities, commercial fishing, and all types of energy development – including renewable energy such as offshore wind farms. What’s even more alarming is that the impact of this Executive Order is not limited to just our oceans. It establishes regional planning bodies with the authority to regulate as far inland as necessary. All rivers eventually drain into the ocean, which gives this policy the justification it needs to reach far inland. For example, the Gulf of Mexico ReCongressman Doc Hastings is the Chairman of the critically important Natural Resources Committee in the House of Representatives. He has proven to be an friend to recreational fishermen and has met frequently with staff from the Recreational Fishing Alliance to listen to our concerns and act upon them. His take on the National Ocean Policy is lock step with that of the RFA.
gional Planning Body will make decisions to regulate activities throughout the entire Mississippi River watershed if those activities have the potential to affect the Gulf of Mexico. This means a policy billed as protecting our oceans will have the ability to regulate inland activities that occur as far north as Minnesota. If farmers and ranchers thought having the EPA in their backyard was bad, wait until the National Ocean Council comes sailing upstream for a visit too. The American Farm Bureau Federation has raised serious concerns, stating that “it could extend to the regulation of every farm and ranch in the United States.” To make matters worse, taxpayers will be stuck with the considerable financial costs of implementing this Executive Order and the vague and undefined objectives will no doubt be used as fuel for costly frivolous lawsuits to stop or delay federallypermitted activities. Adding to these costs is the lost economic activity and stifled job creation that will result from new restrictions and regulatory uncertainly brought on by the policy. Over the past year, the Natural Resources Committee has held multiple oversight hearings to investigate
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the policy, its implementation and potential impacts. However, the Obama administration has refused to answer important questions. That’s why I recently supported bipartisan efforts in the House to
pause funding for this policy until the true job and economic impacts are known. This pause in funding was supported by over 80 organizations, including the US Chamber of Commerce, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Association of Homebuilders, American Forest & Paper Association, and the National Fisheries Institute. Millions of Americans depend on the ocean for their livelihoods and there needs to be a balanced, multi-
use policy that recognizes both the importance of environmental stewardship and the responsible use of our oceans. Executive Branch agencies with jurisdiction over our ocean policy can, and should, work in a more coordinated manner, to share information, and reduce duplication of their work. This would save money and could be supported by all. Unfortunately, President Obama’s Executive Order pushes far beyond this common ground and uses the ocean as a regulatory tool to limit job-creating activities on both land and sea. Read more: Click for FoxNews.com
What a Tangled Web it weaves: The NOP is a recipe for more layers of bureaucracy and a quagmire of regulations that will carry the weight of law that can circumvent Congress, state’s rights and the voting public. Illustration: Mustard Seed Graphics
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SKA & RFA Working together to protect the future of recreational fishing! By Jack Holmes Managing Director, Southern Kingfish Association
The Southern Kingfish Association (SKA), founded in 1991, has grown into the largest saltwater tournament organization in the world with an average of fifty competition events held each year from Louisiana to North Carolina. After the first couple of years we knew that the organization was going to become huge even though most people held this great gamefish in low esteem. We knew otherwise.
ended quickly as we developed a â€œone fish per day, per teamâ€? weighin policy that encouraged all smaller fish to be released. Fish that were weighed were being sold to local fish houses after weigh-in with the money earned donated to local charities, which negated any waste of an important resource, a format still in use today. The SKA has raised millions of dollars over the years for many worthwhile causes.
In the early days we found many events we either sanctioned or produced were allowing too many dead fish to come to the dock. That
Along the way, the SKA has literally transformed the boating industry and popularized the high performance center console into the most
More than 200 competition boats staging for the start of the annual SKA National Championship.
sought-after saltwater fishing boat on the water. SKA anglers demanded faster, more seaworthy boats with greater range equipped with a full spate of fishing features, more advanced electronics and at the same time drove the trailer industry to build the strongest, safest products in its history. All these advances pushed forward by SKA competitors are available to anglers everywhere. Up until 2008 the SKA was a $100 million industry unto itself benefiting the marine and tackle industries, tourism and more, but due to economic conditions over the past few years the economic clout has declined, but it still remains an economic powerhouse. Besides its economic clout, the SKA has been a leader in conservation and our efforts have been instrumental in helping increase king mackerel stocks to what we and some government agencies feel are record levels. We didnâ€™t do it alone. We worked with anyone and everyone who was willing to get involved and that includes a large contingent of friends in the commercial fishing industry. Along the way we discovered that outside forces were blaming saltwater fishermen and women with the raping of marine resources. Extremely well financed environmental or-
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ganizations were systematically hijacking our conservation efforts while trying to make recreational fishermen appear to be villains. I started looking for organizations that were as disgusted as I was with this new breed of dishonest environmentalists and to help us fight their attempts to get us off the water. From their misleading use of the press to their apparent hijacking of the very government agencies set in place to protect marine resources and regulate our conduct, they proved to be a powerful foe with unlimited dollars in their coffers. I could write several pages on this subject but I believe most of you understand what is going on and how it happened. From the current administration and its appointments at NOAA to their coopting of the regional Council system, their tentacles run deep. Early on in the process I truly believed that the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) was going to fill our needs as an ally against the antifishing groups. They seemed to have a handle on their efforts to keep us off the water. In 2006 I was
Holmes talking with Senator George LeMieux (FL) at the first Washington Rally in 2010.
asked to participate in a symposium on king mackerel funded by the Betty Moore Foundation and its purpose was to develop a program to better set yearly fishing quotas for individual saltwater species. It was also sponsored by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the University of Maryland, the State of Florida and Florida State Universities. It was a great effort with com-
Addressing the 5,000 fishermen who came to Washington to make their voices heard.
mercial catch data and SKA records on the table for the prior 15 years, but I soon realized that CCA brought nothing to the table going so far as to abstain from voting on any of the conclusions adopted by the attendees. The goal of the symposium was to develop a way for all stakeholders to have a say on yearly quotas and build a model for government agencies to use, very important issues. Yet their representatives told me that they did not have the authority to vote on the policies we were setting for king mackerel because only the CCA Director could do that. ASA had a representative at a couple of meetings but she contributed nothing to the discussion. The more I looked for the right organization to align the SKA with the more I liked what the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) was doing at the federal level. They had exposed the culprits in the environmental cabal and explained how they were systematically taking away our right to fish. However, the marine and tackle industries did not embrace the RFA so how would working
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with them ultimately affect the SKA? In life everyone must decide what is right or wrong, there is no in between, and sooner or later we must make our own decisions. After much discussion with representatives of the RFA and internally with the board of the SKA we made our decision and aligned our organizations for the common good. In 2007 when the MagnusonStevens Act (MSA) was re-authorized with the approval of both the ASA and CCA, only RFA stood fast in their belief the new law set management on a collision course that would have dire consequences. The law included arbitrary rebuilding deadlines that were nearly impossible to achieve without massive economic impacts for recreational fishing, while other provisions were even worse. They called it a train wreck waiting to happen and they were right on the money! What followed since it was put in place was a new round of Draconian regulatory measures, unnecessary emergency closures and the resulting socioeconomic firestorm as predicted. We’re still fighting to correct these problems today, rallying around proposed legislation that could return MSA back to reality, legislation that would maintain the rebuilding of stocks to full sustainability while not closing out recreational fishing. That is one of the many reasons the SKA has become a partner with the RFA in these troubling times. Two such examples are the closures of the red snapper and black sea bass fisheries. NMFS claims the stocks are
severely overfishing, but have little or no scientific data to prove their assertion or justify the closures, but they did it anyway because the new MSA left them no recourse p utti n g tho us a n ds Americans out of work, especially in southern coastal states. Our members can see the folly of NMFS decisions every time they are on the water fishing and are highly offended when their own government tells them they are the problem and must be stopped. RFA understands how the environmental community has taken over our fisheries management system in recent years and it has never been worse than under the current administration. The RFA understands what the ultimate cost of their agenda will be for related industries—lost businesses, reduced revenues for the remaining manufacturers, independent storeowners, charter operations, tourism and the loss of thousands of jobs.
The SKA participated in two fishermen’s rallies in Washington DC which many of our members gladly attended. We’ve walked the halls of Congress to lobby support from members of both houses for a legislative remedy for the broken MSA. We push for more and better science for making regulatory decisions and to reduce the guesswork by NMFS. They don’t have the science and we’ve convinced many of our elected officials who now understand that. Thanks to the RFA, we’re on right course to see MSA reauthorized in the near future. You certainly didn’t read about the National Marine Manufacturers Association or the American Sportfishing Association attending the rallies with the very people who buy products from their members nor do I believe they ever will. They know what’s best for all of us.
I believe in the RFA and so does the rank and file membership of the Southern Kingfish Association. The RFA works for recreational fishermen and we must support the people who will get in the trenches with the politicians who control our government agencies and rectify fishery policies. As fishermen, we must always be ready to react to policies that are unwarranted and we must be allowed to be a part of the process. SKA is committed and Holmes is dedicated to keeping the SKA membership informed through you should be, too! frequent updates posted in the Fishery Reform section of the website.
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RFA CHAPTER NEWS Reports & Updates from RFA State Chapters and Regional Directors
RFA-California Update Jim Martin RFA West Coast Regional Director email@example.com New Closures The California Fish & Game Commission voted to adopt regulations for marine protected areas on the north coast between Point Arena and the Oregon border at their meeting in Eureka on June 6 th. The RFA supported the "Unified Array" that was developed after a long, arduous public process. The three county governments, Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte, worked together with the fishing community, tribes, and local environmentalists to develop a "network of marine protected areas" under the Ma-
rine Life Protection Act (MLPA). The outcome was better than we hoped for, and far less impact on fisheries than in other regions in the state. We need to thank all the stakeholders and members of the public that worked to find a solution that respects the importance of fishing to the north coast culture and economy.
Fort Bragg Area Rockfish The Pacific Fishery Management Council approved an additional 18 days for the season off Fort Bragg for 2013. The area has the shortest season for bottomfish on the West Coast, with a 90 day season for rockfish for the last several years.
9 th Annual Randy Fry "BIG X" Free Diving Tournament
Last yearâ€™s event drew a large crowd of fishermen, abalone divers and spear fishermen from around the state to honor Freyâ€™s memory and his work on their
Rockfish like these are a popular bottom species that once supported a thriving private boat and for hire fishery.
This tournament is held in memory of the late Randy Fry, the past RFA West Coast Regional Director, an avid abalone diver, fisherman, spear fisherman and fisheries activist who dedicated his efforts to protecting our marine resources and assuring the rights of anglers and divers would be protected by assuring reasonable access to them. Date: Saturday, October 13th, 2012 - Mendocino Coast at
Pacific Star Winery Entry fee: Pre-registration: $40
Day of Event Registration: $60. This includes an Amadeo Bachar-designed T-shirt, 2 nights camping (self-contained RVs O.K.), a hot chili lunch, wine tasting, trophy awards, raffle and silent auction. On Saturday night the "Iron Diver Chef" Team Challenge cook off will be held. Teams of up to 10 people can compete to prepare the best menu of wild seafood for Saturday night's feast. Non-diving chefs can participate with divers. Grand Prize: Dive Trip for 10 people on Telstar Charters! Congrats to Eugene Porter, 2011 "Iron Diver Chef" of the Year.
The Pacific Coast Winery occupies a scenic stretch of California coastline that is ideal for this memorial free diving tournament and picnic in Randy Freyâ€™s honor. Schedule: Early check-in, safety briefing Friday Oct. 12. The tournament will be held on Saturday, October 13. Check-in starts at 7 a.m. Sat. morning; Check out: 1 p.m. CENCAL spearfishing competition rules: 1 point per fish + 1 point per pound. All DFG rules apply. "Everybody Wins" Raffle after weigh -in. Over 100 items! Where: Pacific Star Winery is on the Mendocino County coast, 12 miles north of Fort Bragg at 33000 Hwy 1 (near mile marker 73.50). Free camping (Friday/ Saturday nights) onsite with a million-dollar view and private access to the ocean. This may be your last chance to dive this area. It is proposed to become the Ten Mile State Marine Reserve next year. Please note: no dogs allowed; young children not advised due to steep cliffs! Come out and support the NorCal Chapter of the Recreational Fishing Alliance and your Freedom to Fish.
For more Information call: 707-357-3422 or register online at RandyFry2012.
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Sponsors: Pacific Star Winery, Sub-Surface Progression, Noyo Fishing Center, The Beach House Inn, 20 Fathoms, Hammerhead Spearguns, NorCal Underwater Hunters, John Banks, Neptonics, Herranen Spearguns, Telstar Charters, Dolphin Isle Marina, Salty Lady Charters, Dick's Place, RFA-NorCal Chapter, Bamboo Reef, Hulicat Charters, National Divers Manufacturing, CafĂŠ Beaujolais, Kibesillah House.
RFA-Florida Update Capt. Rick Hale, President firstname.lastname@example.org Currently there are three strong subchapters operating in the state and we will be opening another one in the St. Augustine/Flagler area shortly. David Plummer will head up the new chapter and will be having a rally there on July 31 (see below). Since the formation of the new state board, membership has doubled in Florida. Since Florida is such a large state with numerous fisheries and often unique challenges facing them, the development of smaller regional subchapter groups has proven to be an important addition to our efforts in the Sunshine State. These subchapters will quickly be up and working as we educate the fishermen in each area who want to get involved with the RFA so we face the challenges and dangers involved with fisheries legislation and regulatory bodies. If someone who is reading this would like to form a chapter in their area, please contact me, Rick Hale, on our FaceBook page (RFA-Florida) or email me at email@example.com
RFA-FL St. Augustine/Flagler Chapter Hello RFA family. I went to a meet and greet recently with our Candidate Ron Desantis. I spoke in depth with Ron and his wife Casey about our cause. He and Casey are fully behind us and very excited to receive our endorsement. They will be attending our rally at Shaughnessy's Sports Grill on Tuesday July 31st. He spoke to a crowd of farmers and outdoorsmen tonight at Molasses Junction in Elkton, Florida. I can tell you all he is a man of integrity and a true Patriot. Please tell all your angler friends that are tired of our rights being violated by the federal government to come to our rally on the 31st. St. Augustine and Flagler County needs your support. Meet and Greet starts @ 6:30 pm... We will see you there! If you want to join the St. Augustine/Flagler Chapter contact me, David Plummer, firstname.lastname@example.org.
RFA-FL Forgotten Coast Chapter Here along the Forgotten Coast of Florida (Panama City to Carrabelle) we are rounding up our extremely short snapper season. The fishing has been excellent with the calmest seas we have had since June 1. We
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'pyramid type' artificial reefs. Due to the notice below, we are asking supporters of keeping these reefs to please contact your legislators and let them know your opinion. For Rep. Steve Southerland’s office contact Deputy Director Melissa Thompson at: (email@example.com). For Senator Bill Nelson’s office contact Lynn Bannister, (firstname.lastname@example.org ). For Senator Marco Rubio’s office contact Capt. Kris Tande, (email@example.com ). If you ever need to look up your elected representatives there is a neat function on the RFA website (www.joinRFA.org). Scroll to the bottom of the homepage and click the button that says “Contact Your Member of Congress” and you can look up all state and local elected representatives for your area. If you’d like to get more active and join the RFA and work with the Forgotten Coast Chapter in Florida contact Capt. Tom Adams firstname.lastname@example.org.
RFA Gulf of Mexico Update Capt. Bob Zales II email@example.com When oil platforms like this one are retired they still make great structure for Gulf of Mexico sea life. RFA chapters in this region are working to have them designated artificial reefs. are looking forward to the annual Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association Kingfish Tournament on August 24 and 25, which raises funds for reef building efforts in the area to expand fish habitat. Rick Hale, RFA-FL president and Gary Caputi from RFA HQ will be there to meet and greet and to sign up new RFA members, so be sure to drop by and say hello. For m or e i n for m ation on the eve nt go to www.MBARA.com and check out the tournament rules and schedule.
Rigs to Reefs Effort As far as the RFA-Florida on the Gulf goes, we need to have as many members and friends contact our U.S. Senators and Representatives and ask them to stop the demolition of all the non-functioning rigs and oil platforms in the Gulf. As many of you know, one of the issues we have been working on at Gulf Council meetings is stopping the destruction of the artificial reefs known as petroleum platforms. President Obama recently signed an Executive Order to destroy about 3300 of the abandoned rigs over the next few years. In addition, environmental groups have actually been pushing for this because of the content of steel in the structures. The structures are no more harmful to the environment than those required by NOAA in the disbursement of the
Recreational Accountability! Have you heard this term before? You will be hearing it more. Recreational Accountability = Recreational Catch Shares. This is a new term that EDF is passing around in the Northeast. They are waiting on the Gulf to fall to sector separation, then for -hire catch shares, then recreational catch shares. If the Gulf falls into this trap, the rest of the country will follow. If you have followed these issues for the past 3 to 4 years you have heard many of us tell you that sector separation was simply a way to catch shares for the for-hire fleet and then on to the private recreational fishery. This effort has expanded and is now being worked on in many areas. Most of the work is behind the scenes and various organizations are being provided and promised funding for their organizations if they will support sector separation and catch shares. You have seen this already in the Gulf with the EDF puppet fishing association. The Gulf council will be discussing sector separation and catch shares, (Cap and Trade for fisheries) at the next meeting in New Orleans to held at the crown plaza hotel on canal street and bourbon. The reef fish committee will meet all day Tuesday 8-21 and public testimony will be in the afternoon on Wednesday 8-22. This will be the best opportunity to end this issue of sector separation and also any new catch share programs.
I understand there is information that has been put together that indicates what most of have said for years, that catch shares make a few wealthy while turning others into share croppers. This info may be public soon. Do not fall into this trap of being told that sector separation will allow you to fish more and anytime. As of 7-16 there were 1251 active charter reef fish permits, which does not include historical captains or the number of permits that can be renewed. This number does not include state licensed only vessels that also fish for red snapper and other reef fish. Sector separation will not do anything to improve data, the number of days you can fish, or anything else other than set the stage for catch shares in the for –hire sector. Remember, the edf sector separation supporters have already laid out a plan to lease and purchase commercial catch shares. This can only be done with their own catch share program.
MSSA Maryland Update Dave Smith, President firstname.lastname@example.org Maryland Saltwater Sportman’s Association works closely with the RFA and serves as our default chapter in that state.
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The 2012 session for the MSSA was highly publicized and once again put the organization back into a position of action rather than reacting. The membership, recreational anglers and the Legislative Committee were re-energized this year with the introduction of Senate Bill 1032, which would prohibited the use of gill nets in Maryland waters. Sponsored by Senator Kathy Klausmeier, Senate Bill 1032 saw a rather unique journey as it ultimately ran out of time in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs committee (EHEA). SB 1032 was developed by the MSSA Legislative Committee in response to what most believed was a lack of response and accountability on the part of the Department of Natural Resources. I don’t want to go into the specifics on what transpired between the egregious poaching cases we all witnessed in 2011, 2010, and 2009 and the regulation changes the DNR implemented in early 2012, but I will say that most of the “plan” has yet to see daylight and there have been numerous gill net violations in 2012, though not as heavily publicized. Having said that, MSSA is going to move forward and try to once again work with the DNR on how best to protect and utilize our fisheries resources. The MSSA continues to believe that gill nets are a detriment to our fisheries resources including the most sought after fish on the Atlantic Coast, striped bass or rockfish. SB 1032 is only the beginning of what is ahead for the MSSA and the Legislative Committee. With a re-energized committee and membership base we have already discussed our 2013 agenda and have scheduled numerous Legislative Committee meetings at our new Legislative headquarters in an undisclosed MSSA member’s law office in Annapolis.
The Sinking of the Boat Registration Fee Increase
MSSA and RFA share a deep concern about the health of striped bass stocks and have worked jointly for over 15 years on both the state and federal level to secure stock abundance for anglers now and in the future.
As you might know, the DNR attempted to increase our boat registration fees over the next three years, but to no avail. The reasons were legitimate but the amount of increase and execution were the downfall. Instead of approaching the boaters and anglers about this bill and trying to gain a consensus about the idea of increasing boat registration fees, the DNR surprised everyone with a proposed massive increase. The MSSA and its members acted quickly to squash the outrageous fee increases, in some cases over 500%. Over 4,000 emails were sent in opposition to the bill from MSSA members which proved to be very effective in killing it. The MSSA understands the dilemma the DNR is in and we value their efforts in keeping our waterways safe, however they must prove to us that the money taken in by boat registration fees will stay within the DNR and be used appropriately. Until that is done, we cannot support an increase of any amount.
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Allocation Policy: One Year Later We’ve Got It! If you recall the MSSA’s actions a little over a year ago regarding the allocation of striped bass ( Reallocation for Conservation ) and the need to reallocate based on economics set this in action. The MSSA continues to believe an allocation policy is needed and critical in determining how best to use of our fisheries resources, specifically striped bass. According to Tom O’Connell, Fisheries Director, the allocation policy is finished and we can start the process of reviewing current allocations of striped bass and other fisheries as needed. Striped Bass and Blue Crab should be at the top of the list. We will be sure to keep our members informed and if action is necessary. Attendance at meetings may be required if we want to make a positive change in how we allocate our valuable fisheries resources.
DNR “Cost Recovery” Legislation Other than the above mentioned, there were no other issues of significant concern directly related to recreational anglers. The so called “cost recovery” bill lacked teeth and saw an early grave. While some of the language did get rolled into a DNR bill the language is extremely vague. Its effectiveness is questionable at best. The MSSA believes cost recovery is very simple and explicit; fees collected should cover costs of services. In this case commercial fees need to increase or commercial programs and fisheries need to be closed (i.e. gill net fishery). Currently the recreational anglers cover over 90% of their costs through fees and recreational tax monies, the commercial industry on the other hand covers only 20% of their costs. The solution to this is to raise the fees of comm e r cial w ate r me n, but t h at did n ’t h a ppen. Instead, we saw the use of ambiguous language like ‘fair’ and ‘reasonable’ in an attempt to solve the problem using tax payer’s dollars.
Feel free to contact the MSSA Legislative Committee at email@example.com
RFA New England Update Capt. Barry Gibson RFA New England Regional Director firstname.lastname@example.org Sea Herring One of the largest and longest-running projects RFA has been involved with in New England is the development of Amendment #5 to the Atlantic Sea Herring Management Plan. We have been working closely with the Coalition for
The once excellent recreational fishery for cod on Stellwagon Bank has been literally wiped in two years since the imposition of catch shares for commercial vessels in the groundfish fishery. the Atlantic Herring Fishery’s Orderly, Informed, and Responsible Long-Term Development, (CHOIR), and the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Association (ABTA) for over seven years to try and bring an appropriate level of control and accountability to this fishery. Herring are extremely important as a forage base for bluefin tuna, striped bass, cod and other groundfish, sea birds, and marine mammals, but an industrial-scale midwater trawl fishery utilizing football -field size nets has resulted in localized depletion of sea herring as well as bycatch of river herring, groundfish, and other sea life. Amendment #5 was finally voted up by the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) in late June. Measures include 100 percent government observer coverage for the fleet of 46 full-time herring vessels, which land about 97% of the herring quota. This level of coverage, which we pushed very hard for, should start giving regulators a much better handle on how much herring is discarded at sea, as well as the amount and types of bycatch.
Other provisions include a two-phase program to encourage avoidance of depleted river herring, which often swim with sea herring. River herring are also important as forage for game fish and as bait for sport fishermen. The amendment, if approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), would go into effect in 2013.
Groundfish Earlier this spring, reports started to come in to the RFA-New England office from charter captains in Massachusetts concerned about the number of groundfish trawlers working Stellwagen Bank, a resource-rich expanse of bottom some 25 miles offshore. New provisions contained in NEFMC’s “sector mangement” groundfish plan now allows large offshore draggers that normally fish George’s Bank to purchase inshore Gulf of Maine groundfish quota. Many of these vessels, some as large as 90 feet, worked Stellwagen day and night all winter and spring. By the time the season opened for recreational cod fishing on April 16, the fish were largely gone and charter customers began cancelling trips. Due to pressure by area skippers and concerned anglers, NEFMC convened its Recreational Advisory Panel (RAP) in mid-May to discuss the problem. The RAP, as well as NEFMC members and representatives from NMFS, listened to testimony from a number of captains and fishermen. In the end, The RAP voted to ask NEFMC to recommend to NMFS some type of emergency action to prevent further depletion, and to examine commercial catch data from the Stellwagen area. As of this writing, however, no specific action to address the problem had been taken. Another problem looming on the horizon for New England’s groundfish anglers is a potential drastic cutback in cod and haddock limits starting in 2013. The most recent stock assessments indicate that both these species are far more depleted than expected, so new reductions – possibly on the order of 80% -will likely be imposed. RFA will stay on top of this particular issue and, as always, will be a key participant in deliberations and decisions.
New Regional Administrator John Bullard, who served as mayor of New Bedford, as chairman of the Massachusetts Ocean Partnership Fund (MOPF), and as president of the Sea Education Association, has been named as the new Northeast Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries. This is good news for recreational fishermen. I worked with John as a member of MOPF seven or eight years ago, and found him to be an excellent facilitator who was able to work effectively with the commercial and recreational sectors as well as the environmental community. John also led NOAA’s
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first Office of Sustainable Fisheries and Intergovernmental Affairs in the mid-1990, so he has a sold background in federal fishery management. I believe John will be receptive to the needs and concerns of recreational fishermen, and will make himself available as necessary to discuss and resolve issues that affect our sport and our businesses. The RFA strongly supported John’s appointment via letters to top NOAA officials in Washington, D.C., and we are pleased that he got the job. We feel this will be fresh new chapter in the relationship between the Northeast Regional Office and New England’s recreational sector. Capt. Barry Gibson is RFA’s New England Director. He serves as chairman of the NEFMC’s Recreational Advisory Panel, as chairman of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine’s Saltwater Fishing Committee, and as vice-president of the Northeast Charterboat Captains Association. He spent 27 years as editor of Salt Water Sportsman magazine, and has owned and operated a charter boat business in Boothbay Harbor, ME, since 1971.
RFA-New York Update New York Sport Fishing Federation (NYSF) Jim Hutchinson email@example.com The NYSFF is affiliated with the RFA and acts as our default chapter in that state.
DiLernia Appointed to MAFMC On June 25th, 2012, the Commerce Department announced the appointment of 30 new and returning members to the eight regional fishery management councils that partner with NOAA’s Fisheries Service to manage ocean fish stocks. Included among those appointees was Capt. Anthony “Tony” DiLernia of New York who was selected as a representative of the recreational fishing community to take the ‘at large’ seat the Mid- Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) which was previously held by commercial wholesaler/retailer Steven Schafer. According to the New York Sportfishing Federation, which helped lobby for support of DiLernia both through NOAA Fisheries and the office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, this was a particular bit of good news.
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“We’re thrilled to once again have an advocate for New York recreational fishermen back on the MAFMC, it’s been far too long since we’ve had someone willing to actively engage with porgy, black sea bass and fluke anglers in the region,” said Jim Hutchinson, Jr. president of the New York Sportfishing Federation, adding that “since his appointment in late June, Capt. DiLernia has already been in direct contact with the New York Sportfishing Federation board, its members and our local business owners, which is not something with which we’ve been accustomed in recent years.”
tions submitted by the governors of fishing states, territories and tribal governments and oversees the annual appointment process. Designated representatives are categorized by sector in terms of whether they are recreational (‘R’), commercial (‘C’) or other (‘O’), with the ‘O’ designation granted to full-time environmentalists, scientists or members of academia. The appointment of two new ‘R’ representatives in DiLernia, as well as Virginia’s Jeff Deem, changes the balance on the MAFMC more in favor of angling interests. “The ‘at large’ seat now held by Capt. DiLernia has been long dominated by New York commercial fishing interests going back more than a decade, and that’s a chain that the New York Sportfishing Federation and RFA is glad to see broken,” Hutchinson added. The new and reappointed council members begin their three-year terms on August 11. Council members are appointed to both obligatory seats, which are specific to a state, and at-large seats which can be filled by a person from any of the states in the council’s region. Council members may be reappointed to serve three consecutive three-year terms.
RFA-Texas Update Jim Smarr, President firstname.lastname@example.org
Capt. Tony DiLernia (right) exchanges a handshake with Governor Andrew Cuomo at a recent event with the NY Sportfishing Federation.
Currently the RFA Texas Chapter is involved in a series of meetings deciding the future of our coastal fisheries in State waters. Texas Parks and Wildlife Chairman Dan Friedkin set in motion a working group charged with finding a solution to protecting sea grass habitat and reducing user conflict in our bays systems.
According to a press release issued by NOAA Fisheries, the regional councils were established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to prepare fishery management plans for marine fish stocks in their regions. Council members represent diverse groups, including commercial and recreational fishing industries, environmental interests and academia, and carry out the act’s requirements to end overfishing, rebuild fish stocks, and manage them sustainably.
This series of meetings are a result of a previous meeting held at the Harte Institute labeled “Challenges to Sharing and Conserving Our Bays Workshop”. Unfortunately a very small group wanting “Limited Impact Fishing Areas” or so called No Motor Zones (Wade, Paddle and Pole) helped direct the meeting and write the results for the final report tainting the entire process. We also saw representatives from Audubon wanting extreme measures to protect Rookery Islands. They wanted 300 meters, at one point, of no-activity zone around the Islands. This move would restrict recreational anglers in Texas from accessing many bays through traditional historical inlets if at all to some fishing areas.
Each year, approximately one-third of the total 72 appointed members to the eight regional councils are appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. NOAA’s Fisheries Service selects members from nomina-
This series of meetings has been designed to find a way to restrict access to bays to motor traffic to appease the radical group Wade, Paddle and Pole. They have been at the forefront
Elected president of the New York Sportfishing Federation in 2010, Hutchinson is also managing director of the national Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA).
of pushing no-motor zones for years. They testify regularly at Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission meetings asking for the most productive areas along the Texas Coast to be set aside for “Limited Impact Fishing Areas” or No -Motor Zones. After fighting the No -Motor Zones for the past decade, we feel these meetings are once again a major threat to appease fewer than 200 coastal anglers demanding change. RFA Texas has decided to take the stand if sea grass protection is the problem, protect sea grass State wide. We are tired of the constant battle of using sea grass as a crutch to push the No-Motor Zones. If in fact sea grass is the problem, solve the problem once and for all with a state-wide proclamation. There then would be no reason for Scientific Research Areas that have been used to attempt to implement No-Motor Zones. Unfortunately for the general public, the meetings, all six of them, are by invitation only. We feel fortunate to be on the short list of organizations included. These meetings are six -hour presentations with interaction. Typical of meetings of this type, the room is full of people with agendas and most are not in the best interest of the average saltwater angler. We are doing our best to safeguard our access and angling rights. Once the report is complete, we as a user group will need to make certain the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission hears from our membership loud and clear.
RFA-Virginia Update Dr. Bob Allen email@example.com Virginia does not have an active state RFA chapter, however, there is a confederation of recreational saltwater angling groups called the Virginia Coalition of Angling Clubs (VCAC) composed of 14 fishing organizations. The VCAC is an electronic network set up between the member clubs to facilitate the flow of information among all recreational salt water anglers. VCAC takes no formal positions on fishing issues, but does expect Boards of Directors of each club to discuss issues and take positions of importance to each individual Club. The VCAC was begun over 2 years ago when it was recognized that RFA was not well established in VA and also recognized that CCA/VA (long an effective Statewide fishing organization ) was in a death spiral. As the self appointed VCAC moderator, I am a strong sup-
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porter of RFA and expect to see more positive RFA activities here in VA.
Notice of Appointments One of RFA’s most loyal supporters in the state, Jeff Deem, was recently re -appointed to the Mid- Atlantic Fishery Management Council from Virgina. Jeff had served with distinction, but was bumped off during the last appointment cycle. He is an active recreational angler and serves as chairman of the influential Virginia Marine Resource Commission's Finfish Advisory Committee. Dr. Bob Allen of Hampton, VA, member of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fishing Association and VCAC, was recently appointed to the Black Sea Bass, Flounder and Scup Advisory Panel of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
Virginia Marine Resources Commission Update The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) over the last 10 years has begun to recognize the economic and political importance of recreational salt water fishing to the state and is giving more attention to requests from recreational fishermen and groups. The VMRC Finfish Advisory Committee which has always been heavily unbalanced in favor of commercial fishing interests is expected to be fully balanced when Rob O'Reilly, VMRC Administrator, approves two new recreational appointees: one from the Portsmouth Angling club and one from the Norfolk Anglers club. The names of those politically active anglers will be announced within the month. One of RFA’s loyal supporters, Jeff Deem, has been appointed to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. He had been away for a term but was re-appointed again. Jeff is also chairman of the important VMRC Finfish Advisory Committee. Bob Allen, Virginia Council of Angling Clubs, was recently appointed to a 3 year term on the Mid Atlantic Scup, Flounder and Black Seabass Advisory committee.
Watch these pages for more State Chapter updates in the future.
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2011 RFA Trip of a Lifetime Winner
Sue Moore of Pleasantville, NY shows off the big roosterfish she caught at Zancudo Lodge in Costa Rica this past April on a ‘trip of a lifetime’ that she won as a member of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) in their 2011 Trip of a Lifetime ‘members only’ national grand prize drawing. Photo by Sue’s husband Steve . Longtime RFA member Sue Moore of New York was the lucky winner of the 2011 Trip of A Lifetime giveaway and enjoyed some spring fishing at Zancudo Lodge in Costa Rica this past spring with her husband Steve…care of Zancudo Lodge and the RFA! “The trip was awesome,” Sue told the RFA, adding “the weather was great (hot!), the lodge was absolutely beautiful and kind of extra special because as it turned out we were the only guests there the whole time, which while a little lonely, we had the run of the place and I can't remember when I was treated better by the staff of anyplace I've ever stayed.” Sue and Steve fished hard for three days but the sails and marlin didn’t cooperated as hoped. “On the bright side, after coming in from offshore, we did the inshore deal and I managed to hook up to a trophy size roosterfish, weighing close to 50 pounds,” said Sue, adding “a really fun fight, almost a half hour, three huge runs, before we got him in, which was a total blast!” The Moore’s also hooked up with a few smaller roosters and jacks, along with some Spanish mackerel and mahi which was prepared several ways by the chefs back at the Zancudo Lodge. “A trip we'll remember with big smiles for the rest of our lives and of course (thanks) to the RFA for making it possible,” Sue added. RFA will be making sure to add something special to the ‘benefit of membership’ in the next few months, and is in the process of securing several special prize packages worth between $5,000 and $10,000. Stay tuned to future RFA newsletters for additional details, and make sure you log on at www.joinrfa.org to update your membership for just $35. As they say, membership has its advantages!
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RFA & VIRIDIAN ENERGY PARTNERSHIP Go Green, Save Green, & Support the RFA
chance to help you sign up for greener energy at affordable prices, while also helping our organization earn money to support our mission and program. RFA receives income from Viridian each month our supporters pay their utility bill, while you save money over time. How is this possible? The deregulation of energy has allowed customers the opportunity to choose their electricity supplier. Your utility company will still deliver the same reliable energy you've always had and service your needs, as well as provide you with the same, simple bill. Since starting this unique partnership in New Jersey last year, dozens of RFA members there have saved significantly by choosing Viridian Energy as their electricity supplier…most are now doing the same with natural gas since Viridian Energy has begun offering competitive variable rate plans to its current New Jersey Natural Gas and PSE&G utility markets, as well as South Jersey Gas!
If you live in any of these states you can save on electricity and support the RFA at the same time.
id you know you have a choice as to where you get your electricity? The deregulation of the energy industry gives you the power to choose where your electricity comes from, which means you can choose ‘greener’ more sustainable options, while also going out to find the best possible price on home and small business energy costs. At the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), we’ve been helping spread the word about green energy, since it ultimately has an impact on our coastal resources. We’re proud to have recently partnered with the folks from Viridian Energy to help bring greener, more sustainable, and ultimately less expensive third party energy options to our members, which is resulting in good news for RFA members in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland (also coming to Delaware and Washington DC on Sept. 1). When you sign up for Viridian Energy through the RFA, you’ll not only go green and save money, but you’ll also be supporting the Recreational Fishing Alliance and our efforts to protect your right to fish. Each and every new meter in MA, CT, NY, PA, NJ or MD means cash back directly to the RFA…this unique program gives us a
Viridian Energy is also working with PECO Gas in Pennsylvania, as well as Central Hudson, Con Edison, National Grid Metro (formerly known as Keyspan NY), National Grid Long Island (formerly known as Keyspan LI), Orange & Rockland in New York. All the information you need to make a choice is at www.viridian.com/joinrfa - there are no strings, no contracts, no long-term commitments. You can find answers to all of your questions at the RFA members area, including FAQ list and an informative 3-1/2-minute video explaining how the process works. When you’re ready to sign up, all you need is a copy of your recent gas or electric bill – it takes less than 5 minutes and you’ll never have to worry again - cleaner, more affordable energy for your home or small business, while also helping support the RFA. We are so excited to welcome you to Viridian Energy and tell you about this unique opportunity for our supporters to save money AND help the environment. I hope you’ll spend a moment to click the following link www.viridian.com/joinrfa to see what it’s all about!!!
If you’re interested in partnering with RFA to help earn money for your fishing club or small business, send an email to RFA managing director Jim Hutchinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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 Mailing Address P.O. Box 3080 New Gretna, New Jersey 08224 Phone: 1-888-564-6732 toll free
Fax: (609) 294-3812
Jim Donofrio Executive Director
Gary Caputi Corporate Relations Director
Jim Hutchinson Jr Managing Director
Capt. Barry Gibson New England Regional Director
John DePersenaire Fisheries Policy & Science Researcher
Jim Martin West Coast Regional Director
Kim Forgach Administrative Assistant Cover Design: Mustard Seed Graphics
Patrick Paquette National Shore Access Representative
All content copyrighted 2012 Recreational Fishing Alliance May not be reprinted or distributed without permission. All rights reserved.
Volume 1, Issue 1