Making Waves |
GULF OF MEXICO IN THE SPOTLIGHT Stealing the Red Snapper Fishery PLUS Dirty Politics Hurricane Sandy Emergency Restoration Funding Snafu Meet Jim Donofrio & More inside
Volume 1, Issue 2
Making Waves |
FROM THE PUBLISHER’S DESK
Page 32 Volume 1, Issue November/December 2012
Inside this issue:
Gary Caputi The entire country has heard about the wrath of Hurricane Sandy and the nightmare she left behind. Most hard hit were the coastal areas of New York and New Jersey. Estimates of general property damage are approaching $100 billion and BoatUS recently reported that somewhere north of 65,000 recreational boats were damaged or destroyed in her wake. The RFA’s headquarters office in New Jersey was not spared and was still only operating on generator power weeks later and while it has made getting this issue of the RFA E-News out a challenge it has not slowed down the work of the staff, as you will see when you read this issue. The damage to the infrastructure of fishing communities in both states was massive, more than enough for NOAA to declare a Federal Fisheries Disaster, which allows Congress to appropriate emergency funds to help fishing related businesses survive and rebuild. However, vagaries in the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Act could have excluded recreational fishing businesses from receiving assistance. RFA sprang into action working with NOAA and area political contacts to make sure that this did not happen. See John DePersenaire’s article “After the Storm” and “Breaking Legislative News” in this issue to learn more and see what the RFA has accomplished. The impact of social media on day-to-day communication continues its march and RFA managing director Jim Hutchinson has been hard at work expanding the reach and communications ability of this organization. Social media gives us the opportunity to get you the latest breaking news while providing you with the ability to respond. The RFA Facebook page has been operational for almost two years, but many of you have not visited and “liked” RFA so you are not getting the latest news and you’ve been missing Hutch’s most excellent blog. More recently Jim activated the RFA Twitter account so you can now follow us there on your Smartphone or tablet. To hook up with the RFA on social media click the links below and be sure to share us with your fishing buddies. May I take this last bit of space to wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hunakkah, Festive Kwanzaa, or whatever you might or might not celebrate from everyone at the RFA. And the best of fishing in the New Year!
Executive Director’s 4 Report: Casting Your Vote RFA Issues & News
Canyon Runner Sem- 8 inar Series 10 After the Storm: Sandy Disaster Relief
Breaking Legislative 12 News: Pallone & RFA to the Rescue! GULF OF MEXICO EXPOSE Theft by Deception Dirty Politics
PROFILE: Jim Donofrio RFA Exec. Director
I AM THE RFA Pete Santinii
State Chapter News RFA Boots on the Ground Around the Nation
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Executive Director’s Report NOW THAT THE DUST HAS CLEARED Thoughts on the 2012 Elections By Jim Donofrio, RFA Executive Director As a member of the Recreational Fishing Alliance we advised you of our recommendations and reasons for endorsing specific candidates prior to the election. In some races there was no clear choice and the RFA abstained. In others, like the Presidential race and those for certain House and Senate seats we offered an endorsement of one candidate over another. When the RFA endorses a candidate we do so solely from the perspective of that candidate’s record and potential impact on our area of concern as noted in the RFA’s Mission Statement. It’s all about who has or has not worked with us on issues effecting recreational fishing rights, protecting fishing industry jobs and on promoting legislation and regulatory actions that insure sustainable fisheries with fair and balanced access. With that in mind I would like to give you some insight into our decisions and the potential outcome of the results of the election. Let me start by noting the obvious, the RFA was not pleased with the results of the election in general and with the reelection of President Obama in particular. Did we think we would get everything we wanted to restore recreational fishing from a Romney administration? Definitely not! When he was Governor of Massachusetts Romney had ties to some of the same people and organizations in the environmental community that have plagued recreational fishing through their strong influence on the Obama administration and his appointments to key agencies like the Department of Commerce and NOAA. That said Romney was a pro small business candi-
date who wanted to reduce the regulatory impact of the Federal Government on businesses and the American people. We had numerous substantive meetings with his key policy advisers and felt strongly that he would have been a far better choice for fishermen than Obama. After four years of living under and trying to work with the Obama Administration we had plenty of experience with his policy direction and style of leadership. He instituted the National Ocean Policy by Presidential fiat, which was nothing more than a rehash of a bill that was voted down in Congress by a bipartisan majority year after year for far too many good reasons than I can go into here. NOP was a bone he threw to his environmentalist supporters, but all it does is add another huge layer of bureaucracy to get in the way of intelligent management. With NOAA being run by appointees plucked out of the environmental movement we are facing the expansion of cap and trade fisheries management and it is being forced down our throats using a dishonest divide and conquer approach to achieve it. Just as bad we have watched as members of the Regional Fisheries Councils from the recreational and commercial fishing communities were replaced by a growing list of environmental zealots further weakening our input into the overall management process. These are just a couple of examples of what has become a disturbing trend under this administration. With the election settled and another four years of the same ahead of us chances are we will continue the downward spiral in fisheries legislation and
management that started toward the end of the Bush Administration. Remember, it was W that gave us fisheries management by Executive Order and although that decree was to grant game fish status to a few select species in the EEZ, it was a bad precedent to set. We can only hope that in the coming years the House of Representatives will have enough backbone to counter this administrations continued assault on recreational fishing and that our strong working relationships with key Democratic and Republican Congressmen can help us keep some potentially disastrous policy decisions at bay. The reform of the Magnuson Stevens Act is still at the forefront of our efforts, although it will probably be more difficult to achieve under this administration. We still have champions on both sides of the isle in the Senate and House of Representatives who understand the true impact of the last reauthorization and the need to fix it or risk the total collapse of fishing participation, the industry and the continued loss of industry jobs. Although I might be disappointed by the election results and the challenges it presents to recreational fishermen going forward I am always optimistic about America and feel strongly that we can overcome obstacles and work towards a better day for our members and the sport.
JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS The Official RFA Sweatshirt
Rich navy blue, genuine Haines sweatshirt is emblazoned with the official RFA logo and ‘Protecting Your Right to Fish” boldly on the back and RFA on the front. It’s the perfect way to show all your fishing buddies that you’re a member and annoy some enviro-weenies at the same time! HO, HO, HO!
These top quality sweatshirts are only $29.95 plus S & H. To order click here to open a window to the RFA Pro Shop and follow the simple instructions. And remember, they make a great Holiday gifts for everyone!
Making Waves |
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.
RFA-NJ RESPONSE TO SANDY Soon after superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, the Acting Secretary of Commerce announced the determination of a fishery resource disaster to help coastal fishermen in New Jersey and New York. An official federal fishery disaster declaration would aid in securing disaster relief for impacted aspects of the industry, including both commercial fishing operations and charter fishing operators, along with owners of related fishery infrastructure affected by the disaster. The Acting Secretary noted that if money is appropriated, NOAA and NOAA Fisheries will work closely with members of Congress and the governors of impacted states to develop financial assistance plans to help our coastal communities and fishing industry. In its first official release after the storm, RFA pledged to remain active at the federal level to ensure that Congress responds accordingly to this pledge. Such fisheries disaster declarations have been made in the past, but it's incumbent upon Congress responding to actually allocate the necessary funds to support the recreational and commercial fishing industry. RFA of course will be dedicated towards working with Congress to ensure the recreational fishing industry especially is recognized. RFA Letter to affected Members, 11/19/12 RFA DELIVERS ‘NEW’ FINAL BUNKER COMMENTS The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) has spent considerable time reviewing the latest draft amendment to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden and has officially submitted its comments to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) on behalf of RFA members nationwide. The deadline for public comment ended on Friday, November 16th. Coined by Dr. H. Bruce Franklin as ' The Most Important Fish in the Sea,' menhaden has become particularly controversial in recent years as members of the environmental business community have attempted to manipulate public action without actually hosting functional debate or discussion within the fishing community. "The management of this particular species has gotten more and more complex in recent years, especially since some groups have tried turning menhaden into a recruitment campaign," said RFA executive director Jim Donofrio. RFA's official position once again puts focus directly on the reduction industry, specifically Omega Protein, Inc. which trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol OME. In a recent report to shareholders, OME reported third-quarter revenues of $77.8 million, the "highest quarterly revenues in the company's history" according to president Bret Scholtes who cited a "strong fish catch." Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) filings also show that Omega's top five executives took home more than $13 million in compensation in the last two years. "Considering the dockside value of menhaden is around 8 cents a pound, the guys at Omega must be vacuuming boatloads of bunker from the Chesapeake every year," Donofrio said. RFA News Alert, 11/20/12. BLACK SEA BASS IS TOO HEALTHY FOR ANGLERS TO FISH The black sea bass fishery is rebuilt. However, much like red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico, the stock is too healthy for anglers to actually go fishing. Because there are simply too many black sea bass along the East Coast, anglers are having too much success – and because the stock is so healthy, NOAA Fisheries will have no choice but to shut the fishery down for the next four months while considering how to take a huge chunk of the allowable catch away from anglers in 2013. The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) says credit for this fisheries fiasco can be given to the 109th Congress which convened from 2005-2007. Due to wording in the Magnuson Stevens Act signed into law in 2007, since the recreational fishing community exceeded its annual catch limit (ACL) on black sea bass in 2012, accountability measures will be triggered meaning any overages this year could come off of next season's allowable landings. RFA warns that it's entirely possible due to how Congress worded the federal law that the full overharvest in 2012 could be applied directly to the 2013 ACL. RFA News Alert, 10/22/12 MODEST REOPENING OF FALL RED SNAPPER In 2009, NOAA Fisheries announced a ban on both the recreational and commercial harvest of red snapper in South Atlantic federal waters off Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina would commence beginning January 4, 2010. In September, that fishery finally reopened for two consecutive weekends made up of Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with a one fish per-person, per-day, bag limit with no minimum size limit. Immediately following the 2009 closure,
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Dave Heil, a Florida-based attorney for the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) filed a lawsuit in federal court in Jacksonville seeking an emergency injunction to prevent the ban from taking effect and asking a judge to throw out the rule which created the ban. Heil and the RFA charged that the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) used improper data to drive their decision, explaining that the government already acknowledged that the data collection methodology used to make the closure determination was never intended to be used for such purposes. The lawsuit helped spur a modest reopening of the red snapper fishery, though RFA reminds its members that it’s Congress that can really help anglers by amending the federal fisheries law. RFA News 9/13/12 OBAMA’S NOP PLAN TABLED BEFORE ELECTION Just before the presidential debates began, the Obama administration reported that the final version of the president’s National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan would not be released to the public as originally expected. In a meeting of the Ocean Research Advisory Panel, National Ocean Council Office Director Deerin Babb-Brott suggests that the final plan will be released to the public later. According to the National Ocean Policy Coalition (NOPC) which represents diverse interest groups united in helping protect the user interests by ensuring the new National Ocean Policy is done in such a way that it is helpful rather than harmful to national interests, Babb-Brott said the administration is still working on its final plan. Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), an outspoken opponent of the president’s National Ocean Policy, is one of more than 30 NOPC members. RFA News 8/16/2012 WAL-MART MAKES HOLIDAY NEWS Dan Bacher of the Daily Kos reported on the widespread media attention given to Walmart’s decision to open “Black Friday” shopping one day early in 2012 to begin on Thanksgiving Day. But as he reports, fishermen should be more angry in defiance against Walmart because of the Walton Family Foundation’s dumping of $71.4 million into corporate greenwashing efforts in 2011, which helped support ‘no take’ marine reserves and privatized ‘cap & trade’ fisheries policies like catch shares through direct funding to Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). Bacher points out how a recent article by the New York Times failed to consider the relationship between the Walton family and Walmart the corporation. "I didn't think to check the EDF board for Walton family members, or Walton Family Foundation donations," said Times reporter Stephanie Clifford, adding "None of the third parties I'd spoken to had mentioned that connection, which isn't an excuse - I should have thought of it myself, but didn't. Read more about Walmart, 11/19/12.
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Canyon Runner Seminars An Amazing Educational Experience for Offshore Fishermen
The RFA has been involved with the folks at Canyon Runner Sportfishing since the inception of their seminar series. Capt. Adam La Rosa is a long-time member, financial supporter and cheerleader for the RFA and he has invited us to be a part of the seminars each year to solicit new members and hold a special raffle to raise funds. We will be there again this year. If you’ve never attended one of the Canyon Runner Seminars they are unlike any other. The information comes from captains and mates who live on the “Edge” and hold nothing back. And while you’re there stop by the RFA display, sign up or renew your existing membership and enter the drawing for some great tackle prizes.
2013 SEMINAR TOPICS AND BREAKOUT SESSION SCHEDULE 1) Big-Eyes Secrets to Catch 75 Big-Eyes in 2 Years - Capt. Mark DeBlasio 2) Advanced Electronics - Use Your Electronics to Find Fish Capt. Mark DeBlasio 3) Advanced Canyon Trolling - Tournament Winning Angler Brad Burgess 4) Tournament Winning Marlin and Tuna Techniques- Tournament Winning Crew - Capt. Sean Welsh & the Crew of the Restless Lady 5) Getting the Most from Every Bite and From Life on the Edge Mike "Desire" Jacobs – (Capt. Mark's Mentor - Learn from the Man that We Learned From) 6) Trolling Baits for Big Fish - Capt. Joe Shute - The Inventor of the Best Big Tuna Skirt Time and Time Again (New York Seminar Only) 7) Advanced Jigging & Popping Techniques – Capt. Adam Sherer - Shore Catch Charters 8) Engine Preventative Maintenance & Repairs at Sea - John
Lane - Forked River Diesel 9) Day-Time Swording – Capt. R.J. Boyle/Team Lindgren Pitman 10) Inshore Bluefin Chunking – All The Techniques! - Capt. Gene Quigley - Shore Catch Charters 11) Water Temp Analysis - Basic Courses for First Time Attendees - Capt. Len Belcaro 12) Advanced Water Temp Analysis and Year in Review - Capt. Len Belcaro 13) Learn How to Rig Ballyhoo for Tuna – Canyon Runner Crew 14) Learn How to Rig all your Chunking Gear like a Professional Mate - Canyon Runner Crew 15) Learn How to Service and Maintain Your Reels - Penn Reel's Technicians 16) Learn All the Best Knots and Test Them on Line Testing Machine - Team Berkley 17) Spectra/Top-Shot Techniques - Basil Pappas - BHP Tackle 18) Electronics Troubleshooting & Maintenance - Simrad Techs 19) Tuna Tagging Techniques - Atlantic Tuna Project
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AFTER THE STORM Securing Federal Assistance for the Recreational Fishing Industry in the wake of Hurricane Sandy By John Depersenaire Editor’s Note: The storm of the century and then some hit New Jersey and New York causing massive damage to shore-based recreational fishing business, but will they receive the Federal help they deserve now that NOAA has declare a “Fisheries Disaster” for the region? The consequences of the 2006 reauthorization of the MagnusonStevens Act might preclude that assistance on a technicality. ‘Superstorm’ Sandy had a tremendous impact on the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coast, especially in New Jersey and New York, but with damage also inflicted to parts of Connecticut, the Delmarva Peninsula, and all the way down to North Carolina. Particularly in New Jersey and New York, so much of the shore-side infrastructure essential to the recreational fishing community was damaged making it impossible for fishermen to fish from the beach, launch their boats or even buy bait. Rebuilding will take a substantial amount of time and money to restore this infrastructure to the levels that existed on October 28, 2012, the Sunday before the storm made landfall.
the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act (IFA) to provide immediate disaster relief assistance. (See Gov. Christie letter to NOAA) Within 3 days of receiving Governor Christie’s letter, Acting Secretary Blank determined that a catastrophic regional fishery disaster had occurred as defined under MSA section 315 and IFA section 308 due to a natural disaster (see letter to Gov. Christie and Gov. Cuomo). This determination authorizes the Small Business Administration (SBA) to issue loans, with limitations, for physical damages and assistance for economic losses resultant of the storm. The Acting Secretary went on to indicate that the Department of Commerce would continue to evaluate the impacts of Sandy on the states’ commercial and recreational
fisheries and the fishing and processing infrastructure. Section 315(a) of MSA, the section that authorizes disaster assistance, includes language that mentions “fishermen, charter fishing operators,
United States fish processors, and owners of related fishery infrastructure” as being eligible recipients of assistance. Furthermore, Section 315 (1)(A) goes on to identify “processing
facilities, cold storage facilities, ice houses, docks, including temporary docks, and storage facilities and other related shoreside fishery support facilities and infrastructure.” While one can argue that vital recreational fishing businesses like tackle shops and marinas could be classified as “related fishery infrastructure” under section 315(a) and a “related shore-
Immediately following their assessment of damage in the areas impacted by Sandy, Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Andrew Cuomo of Marinas, tackle shops and shore-side infrastructure imNew York requested portant to the recreational fishing industry were hard hit by Hurricane Sandy. Over 65,000 recreational boats federal fisheries rewere damaged or destroyed. source disaster declarations; the disaster determination by the Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank would help trigger federal assistance and economic development programs contained in the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and
side fishery support facility” under section 315(1)(A), neither of the terms tackle shop or marina is identified in either of the federal laws, not MSA nor IFA. Tackle shops were some of the hardest hit fishing businesses in the states of New Jersey and New York, yet under the current federal law, it is not a certainty that they
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can be classified as eligible recipients of federal assistance at this time. Outside of the physical damage to many of the coastal shops – damage which can already be covered through insurance, FEMA funds and perhaps even emergency SBA loans – the catastrophic loss of income in November and December the loss of private angler access and opportunity is something which needs to be recognized under the federal fisheries resource disaster declarations. Consider for a moment that the commercial fishing industry will qualify for emergency relief, by law, because of lost days at sea. One recent newspaper article in New Jersey quoted a commercial fishing advocate as saying his fleet had lost approximately 10 days of business following the storm – that’s 10 days of financial loss per boat which will qualify for federal grant assistance under this declaration. However, because neither MSA nor IFA identify tackle shops specifically as eligible recipients of assistance, the 30+ days (and counting) of lost angler access and business might not qualify for assistance under these laws. That could leave the local retail tackle industry out in the cold. It’s important to note that this particular problem was not unforeseen. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf States in 2005, Congress followed up with an emergency provision that was incorporated into Magnuson as it was being reauthorized. To mitigate the devastating impacts of that storm, beginning in 2007 and continuing through 2012, $17.5 million per year was allotted to the Gulf region to provide personal assistance, assistance for small fishing businesses, promotion of domestic seafood, funding for state seafood testing programs, and implementation of turtle excluder devices. Also included in the allowable uses of the money was the development of limited entry programs and voluntary capacity reduction programs which no doubt sparked the battle of catch
This sprawling 250 slip marina on the Manasquan River is just one of hundreds that sustained massive damage to docks, water and electrical systems, fuel service facilities and more. Rebuilding in many cases will cost millions of dollars.
shares in the Gulf. When Congress was reauthorizing the Magnuson Stevens Act in 2006, an amendment introduced by then Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Rep. Don Young (RAK), would’ve recognized, by law, “ recreational participants, marina
owners and operators, for-hire vessel owners and operators, bait and tackle shop owners and operators” as officially defined segments of the fishing community and recreational fishing industry. Sadly, hardline environmental groups like the Marine Fish Conservation Network and Pew Charitable Trusts demonized this particular amendment to our federal fisheries law and ensured that this clear definition of the recreational fishing industry was ultimately stricken from the Magnuson Stevens Act. As such, these particular groups have helped put our recreational fishing industry into a desperate situation, with no access to coastal fisheries, no income, and virtually no recourse under federal law to qualify for emergency economic assistance. In the wake of Sandy’s devastating strike on the Mid-Atlantic Coast, the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA)
has been working with members of the House and Senate, as well as NOAA, to ensure that tackle shops and other critical recreational fishing businesses are included when federal assistance is disbursed appropriately. In addition, RFA is working with the state governments of New Jersey and New Jersey to ensure that the Governors from those affected state specifically identify recreational fishing businesses when they submit their spending request plans to NOAA. The disaster declaration by the Commerce Department is the first step in the process. It will now be up to Congress, particularly the House of Representatives to take up action to ensure that funding will be made available to our fishing industry, while at the same time defining who it is in this “fishing industry” qualifying for relief. SBA low-interest loans are nice. The problem with emergency loans of course is that you need a source of income to repay the debt. During the first full month following the storm, tackle shops remain closed along the coast, many suffering serious physical damage while also facing devastating loss of business due to beach closures (Continued on page 13)
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Breaking Legislative News December 1, 2012 :
Congressman Pallone gets NOAA to answer the serious question following Sandy, while RFA’s Jim Donofrio pledges, “We Will Not Be Overlooked.” THIS JUST IN! Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) has confirmed that recreational fishing infrastructure such as marinas, tackle and bait stores and public access points that provide fishing access are eligible for disaster assistance under the fishery disaster declaration. This is excellent news according to Jim Donofrio of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) who has been concerned about the fact that the federal fisheries law doesn’t actually have language written into it to protect marinas and tackle shops specifically in such a disaster.
Congressman Pallone in conference with RFA’s Jim Donofrio (foreground), Jim Hutchinson, (left) and Pat Healey, member of RFA’s Board of Directors. Pallone has been a staunch supporter of the fishing communities in his home state of New Jersey, but also an ally on fixing the Magnuson-Stevens Act through the legislative process.
"We and the entire recreational fishing community appreciate Mr. Pallone reaching out to NOAA and requesting that the agency release their official interpretation of the regional coastal disaster assistance program language in Magnuson as it relates to the recreational fishing industry," Donofrio said. On November 16, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank announced that she had made the determination of a fishery resource disaster to help coastal communities in New Jersey and New York. With this determination, under Section 308(d) of the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act (IFA) and Section 315 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson), federal relief funds can be appropriated and directed at assisting with disaster relief. In the two weeks following the disaster declaration, Donofrio and the RFA staff have been pressing extensively for direct answers as to who is actually eligible for
relief under the federal mandate. "Sometimes it takes a lot of pushing and prodding to get through bureaucratic red tape, and often it even requires an act of Congress," Donofrio said, explaining how neither Magnuson nor IFA actually recognizes the recreational participants, marina owners and operators, and tackle shop owners and operators as eligible recipients of disaster funding. "The recreational fishing industry, our tackle shops, marinas, for-hire folks and everyone associated with saltwater angling is thankful to have the support of Congressman Pallone in helping get those critically important answers." As a senior member of the House Natural Resources Committee and the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs, Rep. Pallone has been at the forefront of fisheries issues in the United States, both in terms of conservation and resource protection, as well
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as the rights of American fishermen. On November 29th, 2012, Rep. Pallone officially got word from NOAA following frequent requests for confirmation. "I understand that there has been concern that certain aspects of the recreational fishing sector were not included in the fishery disaster declaration,” Rep. Pallone said of the recent federal declaration. “My office has been working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to confirm that shore-side fishery infrastructure including marinas, tackle and bait stores and boat ramps are eligible for assistance with this declaration." (Click here to read the full release.) Now that NOAA has confirmed that the recreational fishing industry will be covered by the federal disaster declaration, it is up to Congress to appropriate funding for disaster assistance. RFA is also working with key members of the recreational fishing industry in both New York and New Jersey in gathering relevant fiscal information with regard to the afflicted community; that information will ultimately have to be compiled by both of those state’s governors in order to fully document the official request to the federal government. Once Congress has approved the final appropriation, NOAA will begin the working with the affected states on developing a spending program to determine allocation of the funds. "We now need to work to make sure funds are appropriate and directed to those impacted by the storm," Rep. Pallone said. "That's why it is important that the state and federal governments identify those fishermen, fish-
ing related business and the shore-side infrastructure in need of assistance and direct funds where necessary." Donofrio said he and his staff have been in contact with members of the Marine Trades Association (New York and New Jersey), the New York Fishing Tackle Trades Association, United Boatmen, Folsom Tackle Distributors and numerous tackle shop operators afflicted by storm damage in order to collect the vital financial information required for the final appropriation process. "NOAA was in and out of our region before most even had a chance to clear the debris from their properties and it was our concern and the concern of Mr. Pallone that many of the affected businesses within the recreational industry might get overlooked," said Donofrio, explaining how NOAA had sent representatives into the field just before Thanksgiving without actually consult-
After the Storm (Continued from page 11)
and local curfews. While surfcasting for striped bass along the New York and New Jersey beaches especially is an industry mainstay every fall, loss of access has meant lost customers and lack of income. Rough estimates from some of the shops along the striper coast indicate an average loss of over $100,000 in revenue for the month of November alone as compared to previous years. A double-shot against the sector occurred on November 1, which is when
the federal government shut down the black sea bass fishery, a healthy and rebuilt fish stock, due primarily to flaws in the wording of the federal fisheries law. Many for-hire boats (charter and party boats) which successfully weathered the storm should’ve been able to ferry anglers to the black sea bass grounds immediately, but a federal regulatory action won’t allow it. This arbitrary and capricious ‘emergency closure’ of a healthy fish stock ensures that the captains and their crews can’t actually go to work, which means no way of actually paying back SBA loans.
Without access, there are no opportunities to go fishing – and when you can’t go fishing, business suffers. To help our shoreside business owners, RFA will continue working Congress to ensure that funding is made available and that your local tackle shops and marinas will be represented. Additionally, it’s imperative that our state and federal government takes access both to beaches and our black sea bass stock - as being both critical to the health and stability of our recreational fishing community.
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Theft by Deception
The Hijacking of the Red Snapper Fishery By Capt. Thomas J. Hilton
Editor’s note: As the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and its minion’s crash headlong down the unholy path of fisheries management by “cap and trade” there will be winners and losers. Recreational fishing stands to be the biggest loser, as a few well connected people work behind the scenes to deceive the public while seeking to capture the lion’s share of the red snapper fishery for their own profit. This is a story of the monopolization of a public resource and the destruction of recreational fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.
ack in 2006, giant, wellfunded enviro corporations like Pew Charitable Trusts and the Environmental Defense Fund were busy meddling with federal fisheries management laws behind the scenes, wielding what I consider to be undue influence through a complex, multi-year scheme to convert our Public Trust Resources into tradable commodities through a program commonly called “Catch Shares.” After the 2007 Reauthorization of Magnuson, the EDF websites proudly proclaim; “Our Oceans Team was
instrumental in crafting and implementing the changes to the 2006 Reauthorization of the MagnusonStevens Act which introduced a market approach to protecting our oceans…” Once it was pointed out that EDF wielded possibly illegal, undue
influence on the political process that impacted fisheries management legislation, they quickly removed all such references to their dirty deeds on all of their websites. I was able to capture a screen shot (see page ##) before they wiped their fingerprints clean like common thieves. Do a search now and you will find no such references, they have refined the verbiage to deflect any involvement or guilt on their part. This reauthorization introduced catch shares in the commercial red snapper fishery here in the Gulf of Mexico, based on the EDF ideology of “Cap and Trade” for publically held fisheries known as Individual Fishing Quotas (IFQs). Also included in the EDF-inserted changes were rigid requirements for Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) and Accountability Measures (AMs) in the recreational sector, which have
wreaked havoc on Gulf recreational fisheries every year since what I call “The Hijack” (see RFA’s
Hijacking Fisheries Management exposé at www.joinrfa.org/Press/ Hijack20070605.pdf.) First, let's take a look at the commercial red snapper IFQ program, currently undergoing its mandated 5-year review, as it is this entitlement program that is fueling the move to extend the Catch Shares program in the Gulf to the recreational fishery. That will require the implementation of sector separation, the severing of for-hire charter and party boat vessels from the rest of the recreational user group. There is a lot of money and deception being deployed by the Environmental Defense Fund to try to make that happen, and I certainly hope that as more light is shed on just what is going on we can prevent them from being suc-
cessful. GOVERNMENT HANDOUTS The commercial catch share plan started by eliminating the majority of the Gulf’s commercial fishermen from eligibility to vote on the legally-required referendum for IFQs. The feds knew the majority of the small time operators would vote against it so they took them out of the process leaving those commercial fishermen who stood to gain the most from the implementation of catch shares to vote on implementing an IFQ program. Can you guess how that turned out? They voted overwhelmingly in favor - who wouldn't under those circumstances? The government, operating under the program that was promoted by EDF, was promising to gift those fishermen with an enormous financial windfall that made some of them instant millionaires through an
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entitlement program that gives them exclusive access to a Public Trust Resource—our red snapper. And, that's exactly what has happened. In a report issued in 2011 the median price of a single “share” of the red snapper fishery was valued at $79.80 and the average price was $63.15. These prices increased significantly since the start of the program with the median price increasing about four fold, approximating EDF's prediction of 400% returns on these shares for investors. The total value of the Gulf of Mexico Commercial Red Snapper Shares is around $79,800,000 a huge asset controlled by a select few individuals or corporations, with virtually no payback to the American people for the use of that asset for their personal profit. An interesting bit of information
that is not broadcast by our federal fisheries managers is the 18 largest shareholders account for about 50% of the total value of the shares. To put it another way, about 4% of the shareholders control close to 50% with a value approaching $40 million, an average of $2.2 million for each of those shareholders. Even more troubling is the fact that anyone who was gifted the maximum share percentage of 6.0203% was given an entitlement payoff of $4,802,995 based on median price in 2011. That’s $4.8 million worth of a public resource or assets, our assets, given away for free to each of the largest recipients, with 100% of the proceeds from the harvest going directly into their private bank accounts. Not the greatest deal for the American people, Gulf fisheries,or Gulf coastal communities, to say the least.
Was the removal of the information concerning EDF’s questionable involvement in pushing a “market based approach” to fisheries management in the 2007 Magnuson reauthorization just the start of a larger cover-up? Could it involve the enrichment of a few players close to their cause at the expense of the public and the snapper resource in the Gulf of Mexico?
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PRIVILEGED FEW The Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper IFQ Program is the only program in the nation that gives away the rights to Public Trust Resources with virtually no return, not only to the country, but to the fishery itself. When looking at other examples of individuals or corporations profiting from Public Trust Resource such as gas, oil, or timber, the American people receive compensation through leases, royalties, etc., but not here in the Gulf of Mexico. All of the profits generated from the harvest of the snapper resource goes directly into the bank accounts of these individuals or corporations, which at the very least seems to violate the provisions of the Public Trust Doctrine.
forced to subsidize this entitlement program to the tune of about $1.6 million annually since its inception. In other words, not only is the American public being denied any return on their assets, they are being stuck with the tab of adminis-
orchestrated by the same people who initiated the Cap and Trade program for carbon emissions must be rescinded immediately, and replaced with laws that actually make sense for our fisheries and the American people.
RETURN THE PUBLIC TRUST If shares are going to be allocated to individuals and corporations, the concept of entitlement needs to be replaced with the concept of opportunity and the fishermen allocated those shares must fish them or lose them. The concept of leasing the shares between fishermen needs to be halted immediately, and replaced with the concept of the fishermen leasing This resource in the the shares directly Gulf, now a tradable from the governcommodity worth ment. Recipients close to $80 million, of food stamps is actually owned by are not allowed to every American, yet trade, sell, or lease we are receiving abtheir entitlement, solutely no return on why should these that asset. Worse, the fishermen? If the Magnuson Stevens RED GOLD! The value of commercial red snapper shares fishermen were to Act states that there pay a royalty of say, being given away is at $80 Million and growing. should be a cost recov$3 per pound for ery fee to cover all costs the gov- tering this program, a double the right to fish these shares, then ernment incurs managing and whammy. The enviro insiders who the monies raised would not only enforcing the RS-IFQ Program, but set this scam up are laughing all be sufficient to pay for the mansomehow that law has been sub- the way to the bank. agement and enforcement of the verted with an artificially-low 3% program, but any excess funds The changes made to the Magcap put in place. This has resulted could be used for stock assessnuson Act in 2006, designed and in the American taxpayer being ments, habitat enhancement, or
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To watch a fascinating video about red snapper abundance on the artificial reefs off Alabama click on
The Truth Red Snapper Over Population other programs that actually benefit the resource, and therefore, the American people. The personal profit from our Public Trust Resource with no return to the country should be illegal. The push for implementation of Catch Shares, IFQs and Sector Separation. in the Gulf recreational fisheries needs to be halted immediately and replaced by common sense fisheries management that actually works. The 6-month season for red snapper that was in existence prior to the 2006 Reauthorization is one example of when the feds actually got some-
thing right; the season was long enough to allow plenty of access to the fishery by all recreational fishermen, the fishery was rebuilding, and the Gulf coastal communities were benefitting from all of this. Hopefully the upcoming assessment will actually count the fish swimming around the tens of thousands of artificial reefs, oil platforms, and other structures where they have been purposely ignored in previous assessments. Strange that they are not counted in the assessments, but are counted towards our quota.
Some stock estimates show that there are 3-1/2 times the number of red snapper swimming inside the 1,260 square miles of artificial reefing zones off of Alabama than the National Marine Fisheries Service claims to exist in the entire Gulf of Mexico. If true, the Gulf recreational fishermen deserve fair access to the fishery, not to mention to their fishing heritage and their Constitutional right to pursue happiness. For so many of us the pursuit of happiness is found on the waters of the Gulf of Mexico fishing.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Tom Hilton is a dedicated recreational fisherman with over 50-years experience fishing the Gulf . He holds a 50-ton Masters License and is president of Hiltonâ€™s Fishing Charts, LLC and Realtime Navigator.com â€“ a subscription website that uses satellites technology to track dynamic offshore environmental conditions to aid fishermen throughout the U.S. and Central America. He also is President of Reef-Man, LLC which designs, produces, and deploys artificial reefs off the Texas coastline. To date the company has deployed over 500 tons of low relief material in addition to approximately 100 designed artificial reef structures. He introduced the concept of the Texas Great Barrier Reef in 2006, designed to mitigate the loss of Essential Fish Habitat associated with the planned removal of hundreds of oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Hilton is an ardent RFA member, a regular attendee at Gulf Council meetings, and has become a vocal activist fighting for the future of recreation fishing access and heritage alongside the efforts of the Recreational Fishing Alliance.
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Dirty Politics: Enviro's “Trick” Voters into “Treating” Their Own How EDF and its shell organizations try to influence the political landscape. By Jim Hutchinson, Jr. Managing Director, Recreational Fishing Alliance
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared as a guest column on TheOnLineFisherman.com penned by RFA managing director, Jim Hutchinson, Jr. It spells out how EDF is pursuing a war against the Gulf of Mexico fishing community in general and has recreational fishing clearly in it’s sights. From dirty backroom deals to creating shadow organizations they put up to confuse politicians and the general public into thinking the represent anglers and commercial fishermen there around the district however, Rep. As referenced in a previous column Game Fishing Journal, Capt. Anderson's Marina and the Southern Southerland has been wrongly acfor TheOnlineFisherman.com, "Rep. Kingfish Association) presented cused by zealots at Environmental Steve Southerland of Florida's 2nd Southerland with an award for be- Defense Fund (EDF) of being an Congressional District is what we enemy of our oceans. What these at the Recreational Fishing Alliance ing a 'Fishing Champion.' groups actually mean to say is that (RFA) call a Fishing Champion," an In recent billboards popping up Rep. Southerland is independent voice an enemy against in Washington who their attempt to prihas "stood up for all vatize our coastal fishermen along the resources. The radiGulf of Mexico, reccal environmental reational and comgroups and their mercial alike, while lackeys have spent passionately reprethe past five years senting coastal intrying to steal away terests in the House vital coastal fish like Natural Resources red snapper and Committee." gag grouper from On October 9th at a real fishermen to rally in Panama City, place them into the recreational and hands of private commercial fishing investors. groups united in keeping our public resources open and EDF'S Great Preaccessible to the tender American public One of the more (including RFA, Pan- As a saltwater angler himself, Rep. Steve Southerland has actively fought vocal and deceitful ama City Boatmen in Congress to support a better balance of commerce and conservation EDF lackeys is Capt. in order to protect both the fish and the fishermen. Association, Big
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Jim Clements, a commercial fisher- charter captain (one without the "Beware of anyone who is not a man from Carrabelle, FL and a required permits) has been actively commercial fisherman who tries to member of the EDF-funded Gulf denigrating recreational anglers for influence your vote," Clements notFishermen's Association. In billyears in the News Herald of Pana- ed, while failing to describe his boards purchased in Panama City, ma City. In 2008 for example, Clem- own manipulation of the public Apalachicola, Crawfordville, and Tallahassee attempting to discredit Rep. Southerland as being an "enemy of the ocean," Clements has already admitted to spending $7,500 under the alias of Captain Jim's Charters, Inc with a website of www.captainjimscharters.com. The problem of course is that Clements is not a charter boat fisherman. According to state and federal records, while Clements submits an annual for profit corporate report as a charter business operating as Captain Jim's Charters in the Real fishermen from the Keep Fishermen Fishing coalition (which hosted a nationstate of Florida, Clements himal rally for fishing reform in March in DC) are combatting the phony, EDFself has no state or federal persupported fishing ads in Florida's 2nd Congressional district with messages of their mits required to operate a char- own praising Rep. Southerland's honesty, integrity, trust and purpose. ter recreational fishing business in the state. Clements doesn't have any permits to run a charter, and only recently did he create ents openly promoted the individu- perception by pretending himself al fishing quota (IFQ) plan of reto be a recreational charter captain. a website, one of the most critical items in running a successful char- source ownership in an online pub- In another recent anti-angler blast, ter operation in the 21st century as lication, saying "There are some in Clements again turned to the News the recreational sector who are at- Herald of Panama City to criticize any real charter captain will tell you. The web domain and hosting tempting to derail our progress to- those of us in the recreational fishward reducing overcapacity." Reitself has been managed by Tyler ing community who stand opducing overcapacity is another way posed to private resource allocaMedia Group which secured the domain and built the website after of saying 'reducing fishing particition and sector separation schemes pation' which is what the catch pushed through EDF, charging us September 27th. share scheme would essentially do. with "misleading the public" AcNow, if you're looking for a charter Of our recreational fishermen, cording to Clements' agendatrip in the Panhandle, Clements' Clements calls us "misguided" and driven rhetoric, the federal governwebsite will be of no help. It simply "resentful" while presenting us with ment and private entities are not links out to environmental lobbyist a direct message, "to the recreationpushing for catch shares in the recwebsites including Oceans Champial sector, I say get your own house reational community, and again ons of California and the National calls anglers 'liars' for fighting both Resource Defense Council of Phila- in order before you come over to ours." Given the fact that recreathe sector separation and IFQ prodelphia. Recent calls to Tyler Media tional and commercial fishermen gram for red snapper. asking to contact Capt. Jim to share allocation of vitally foodschedule a sportfishing charter fisheries like red snapper and gag were rebuffed, with Tyler noting NOAA'S Catch Share Plan for Angrouper, most everyone in either that the captain is away on vacaglers industry realizes that we are all tion and not able to be reached. forced to live under the same roof For those who care to read the The commercial fishermen turned anyway. NOAA Catch Share Policy as ClemEDF activist turned recreational
ents suggests, just type "NOAA Catch Shares Recreational" into your favorite Internet search engine to read more about the new federal policy. The other side of the story is quoted word-for-word below and comes directly from that policy document. While NOAA itself "does not advocate the use of individual private angler catch shares," the government agency in its very next breath adds the caveat, "however, NOAA will support Councils in the identification and application of innovative management measures that both promote individual angler fishing access and foster sustainable fisheries." As further described, such "management measures" could very well include individual fish tags, which NOAA explains "there
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are a few examples where a limited number of tags for individual fish have been allocated to anglers on a per capita or lottery basis. Historically these tagging programs have been used where the resources were limited and a strict constraint on landings was required. NOAA will continue to work with Councils who have expressed interest in adopting such tag programs." In other words, while NOAA has distanced itself from actually supporting individual catch shares for anglers, the government agency has in fact approved policy which would support Councils who vote to incorporate individual fishing quotas through a fish tag program allocated to the general public via lottery or auction. Considering that NOAA and the Secretary of Commerce get the ultimate say in who
gets appointed to sit on these Councils, individual private anglers are thankful to have elected officials like Rep. Steve Southerland fighting to protect our individual rights against appointees directing policy. That runs counter to Clements' publicized comments that "catch shares are strictly for the commercial fishery," or that catch shares "should not be used in the recreational sector, and no one is advocating that." The actual NOAA Catch Share Policy created with the help of EDF clearly states, "NOAA supports the design and development of catch share programs for the recreational charter and head boat sector as appropriate." Those who understand what the recreational fishing industry is all about particularly local businesses who
EDF money has been financing groups like this one which was bussed to a public hearing in Panama City, FL claiming to represent commercial or for-hire fishermen supporting sector separation and catch shares.
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rely on open access fishing opportunities in the charter and head boat fishery - can clearly see this for what it is. By allowing Councils to divide our recreational sector into two or more very distinct and different components, (A) the charter and for hire sector and (B) private anglers, NOAA Fisheries is essentially supporting the redistribution of stock allocation through personal ownership of the resource. Once the recreational fishing community is divided into 'professional' and 'private' sectors, angler access will diminish even further as the resource is privatized into the hands of a few. (This of course is why groups like the RFA are supporting Governor Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election, in part to overturn the current NOAA admin-
istration hand-selected by President Obama to run roughshod over our sector starting in early 2009. Mission accomplished Mr. President!) In the first paragraph of NOAA's Catch Share Policy as it pertains specifically to "recreational anglers," the government has determined on its own that "successful recreational angling experience is not as dependent on harvest," explaining how "many anglers participate on the expectation of a catch and continue to fish without realizing a positive catch on every trip, and some anglers release the fish they do catch." Whatever think tank or vision quest that this theory came from – the concept that anglers don't really care whether we have a red snapper to take home for dinner so long as we're out on the water – is proof in point that the NO-
AA Catch Share Policy is a flawed document. The Enviro's Congressional Campaign Local Gulf fishermen in the Panama City region of course don't have to be told about the effort by outside interests to buy off the election there; the attempted takeover of Gulf fisheries has been underway for some time, led by the efforts of radical anti-angler organizations like EDF and their EDF Action Fund. As spotlighted in earlier pieces here at the OnlineFisherman.com, EDF and the EDF Action Fund have invested more than $750,000 in just the past 3 years on establishing their own fishing organizations like the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders Alliance,
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Gulf Fishermen's Association and South Atlantic Fishermen's Association in an effort to fool the public (and those who serve the public) into thinking that their way of managing fisheries was in the public interests. The Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders Alliance in turn doled out $48,000 in the 2011 calendar year to help create a new organization called the Charter Fishermen's Association; the fact that EDF would fund a fishing organization based on ownership of commercial fish shares, which in turn would create its own recreational fishing organization, has sent up red flags throughout the state of Florida. It has since been revealed that the Director of the Charter Fishermen's Association, failed tech stock investor Michael Miglini, also takes a $40,000 salary from the organization, while he's also become one of the biggest owners and resellers of red snapper stock in the Gulf of Mexico. According to some commercial fishing representatives, Miglini and his companies are "essentially the people with red snapper allocation. If you would like to go catch and sell red snapper from the Gulf you call them, everyone does." According to private emails associated with a potential inspector general's review of the Gulf fisheries issues surrounding sector separation plans and EDF's financing of various pseudo fishing organizations, one commercial fisherman described Miglini's business entity, Great Sage, Inc, as "a private company whose primary function is leasing red snapper to the Gulf's fishermen. I have heard they own hundreds of thousands of shares." As Capt. Tom Hilton puts it, "Miglini is in actuality a commercial fish broker masquerading as a recreational charter captain representing, as a
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Board Member, a 'recreational charter fisherman's association' that is in reality an extension of an extreme anti-fishing environmental corporation that wants to privatize our public trust resource - our fish." It has been pointed out by some members of both the recreational and commercial fishing community that Miglini's own comments before the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council in October of 2011 may have broken federal law in terms of full disclosure and honesty. In testifying on record before the Gulf council, Miglini, speaking on behalf of the Charter Fishermen's Association, said his organization "was formed by a group of captains who each wrote a check out of their own personal or charter business accounts and pooled our resources to get organized and engage more effectively in this council process." The actual IRS forms for the Charter Fishermen's Association indicate that $48,000 was given by the Gulf of Mexico Reef Shareholders Alliance, an EDF shell group of IFQ owners and investors, specifically to create the upstart organization. United Share Croppers' Attack on Fishermen Miglini and Clements are on a tear in the Gulf of Mexico to defame and discredit anyone who would dare stand in their way of taking full ownership of the fish stocks for their own purposes. They have the full backing of environmental organizations based in New York City, Philadelphia and Southern California in working to corrupt the political system, and their goal of course is to remove any legislative champion for open public access to a natural public resource. Needless to say, the recreational fishing community, including indi-
vidual anglers, for-hire captains, bait and tackle store owners, boat dealers and the thousands of businesses which rely on open access fishing opportunities, Congressman Steve Southerland has been our 'fishing champion' for cutting through the bureaucratic rhetoric in order to see both sides of the story, and for helping stop this hostile corporate takeover of our natural public resources. Major Alan Lamarche, who many anglers know from his work as Assistant Chief of Law Enforcement for the Florida Game and Fish Commission, probably said it best in his letter to The Times of Apalachicola and Carrabelle, saying "Representative Steve Southerland is a sport fisherman and he is the best friend every fishermen has ever had in Congress. Capt. Jim Clements is a commercial fisherman who doesn't like sharing the Gulf fisheries with us Sports." "The fact that PETA and 'Ocean Lovers' and other 'Preservationist' organizations with 'feel good names' give our congressman a bad report card makes Representative Southerland deserving of a Blue Ribbon in my book," Major Lamarche added. Mine too Major! A blue ribbon and a framed certificate honoring Steve Southerland as a Fishing Champion! Soon enough, the Halloween hijinks with sharecroppers masquerading as fishermen and radical environmental groups 'tricking and treating' their way through the Panhandle will be over, and for fishermen's sake, let's hope Rep. Southerland gets the vote again and continues to champion the cause of Florida anglers everywhere!
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profiles Jim Donofrio, RFA Executive Director
Jim Donofrio has been the driving force behind the Recreational Fishing Alliance since the beginning over 15 years ago. Friends and critics alike agree that he is outspoken, passionate, an effective lobbyist and possesses an intellect capable of predicting the impacts and implications of legislation and regulatory actions well into the future. He is at home at the helm of a tournament fishing boat chasing marlin, drifting a skiff in a bay for flounder, sitting in a duck blind at sunrise his trusty lab by his side, conferring with members of Congress or testifying at high level
public hearings. He easily goes from camouflage and waders to three piece suits, from the local luncheonettes to D.C. receptions without missing a beat. So who is Jim Donofrio and how did he come to represent recreational fishermen and the industry with such passion, perception and dedication? Jim grew up in a small suburban town in New Jersey in the 1950s and 60s. When he wasnâ€™t in school he was off somewhere fishing or hunting. His introduction to saltwater fishing led him to his earliest
jobs on the water as a deckhand on some of most highly regarded for-hire boats in the Sandy Hook area in the late 1960s. His first ride was on the Francis C with veteran skipper Don Calio and a little later aboard the Blackfin under the tutelage of its legendary captain, Joe Renzo. In 1971 he was aboard Andy Albanoâ€™s Tilly, a private boat that specialized in targeting giant bluefin tuna in the Mudhole off the North Jersey coast. The entire giant tuna fleet at that time consisted of about a dozen boats. They had no loran, navigating the old fashioned way using ranges,
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compass, clock and depth finder. During one fifteen day period in 1971 the Tilly with the young Donofrio in the cockpit caught a giant every day for 15 days straight, an accomplishment that has probably never been equaled in Jersey waters.
of 11 knots. He put together a catch of tuna and along the way fell in love with being offshore. With the canyon’s calling he purchased a 40’ Chrisovich dubbed the Drifter II and started making the offshore run for tuna with more regularity.
While he was honing his skills as a deck hand, learning the ins and outs of fishing, he was also gathering the necessary sea time to qualify for his captain’s license. And when he wasn’t working on charter or private boats as a deckhand he was fishing from center console skiffs, usually with his brother Ricky, a striped bass angler of the first order who still plies the North Jersey coast whenever he’s not in his florist shop.
“In those days we fished offshore for bigeye, yellowfin and longfin, but white marlin were more frequently caught on the 20 and 30 fathom lines,” Jim recalled. “But those were also the years the domestic pelagic longline fleets were growing at an exponential rate ravaging the billfish populations while they were fishing down the swordfish stocks. In recent years white marlin are again being encountered closure to shore, but
In 1979 Donofrio got his Coast Guard certification and was granted his captain’s license. His first job as skipper came in 1980 when he took the helm of a 36’ Pacemaker called the Drifter. He sailed from Shark River and Cape May at various times of the year targeting striped bass, bluefish, weakfish and sharks. In 1982 he made his first canyon trip loading the Drifter with extra fuel bladders and headed offshore at the blistering speed
usually far south of New Jersey. The RFA, through its work on reigning in the pelagic longline fleet through the imposition of time and area closures was instrumental in the recovery of white marlin and Atlantic sailfish stocks.” With big game fishing becoming a driving force in his life Donofrio went on the marlin circuit at the helm of private tournament boats that competed in events from
North Carolina to the Bahamas living his life from port to port following the fish with the seasons. It was an exciting time, but a difficult one to be able to put down any roots. “Around 1993 I was becoming more aware of fisheries management,” Donofrio recounted. “My concern about the health of many of our marine fisheries was peaking, but at the same time I was wary of the way the National Marine Fisheries Service seemed bent on devaluing the socioeconomic impacts of recreational fishing while frequently hiding the damage being done by an ever more industrialized commercial fishing industry. The recreational sector was being scapegoated and overregulated under the guise of conservation while commercial overfishing was frequently kept under the radar in one management plan after another. The result was the downplaying of recreational participation while handing over the lion’s share of quotas in many fisheries to commercial interest and it just wasn’t right. I really started reading up on the management process, the science, or what passed for science, and that eventually led me to the legislation that created the regulatory process and the politics of it. It became obvious to me that if recreational fishermen were losing many of the early battles we were involved in it was because we did not have a cohesive organization capable of representing our interests. That weakness was most glaring when it came to the legislative process, where the real power to change the system and right the wrongs was found. While we had national trade associations for the marine and tackle industries, neither organization had the expertise in marine fisheries and they expressed little interest in using their limited lobbying efforts in that arena. Saltwater an-
glers simply did not have the clout that the commercial sector was bringing to bear on the politics of fisheries management and it was our Achilles’ heel.”
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envisioned. Jim hit the ground run- sion statement never even menning and generated so much inter- tions the word ‘fishermen’. I vowed est in the angling community, the the RFA would be totally up front press and among area politicians with its goals and would operate that he packed all three public accordingly and I am proud to say hearings. There were over one that after 15 years these three simDonofrio embarked on a path of thousand fishermen at each meet- ple tenants have never been comintense self-education including ing, something that NMFS had promised.” courses at the John F. Kennedy never seen before or since! In addiSchool of Government. During this As the RFA began to grow it took tion to the public pressure, time he was absorbing as much on many difficult tasks following Donofrio found a willing ally in information as he possibly could up on its first victory. A new Congressman Jim Saxton, the chair about politics, government, regulascourge was entering the offshore of the House Fisheries Subcommittory agencies, lobbying and fishertuna fishery called pelagic pairtee, who took an active role in ies management. In 1995 he met trawling, initially billed as an pressuring the Agency into mainwith two visionaries in his home ‘experimental gear.” A large net taining the closure for the health state, Bob Healey of the Viking was strung between two high of the striped bass stocks. As a reYacht Company and Capt. Dick powered trawlers and pulled at sult the Assistant Administrator of Weber, owner of South Jersey speed through vulnerable canyon the NMFS, Dr. William Hogarth, Yacht Sales, both accomplished areas offshore, frequently right called off the misguided effort and businessmen with a deep and through fleets of recreational boats the Recreational Fishing Alliance abiding love of saltwater fishing. fishing these areas. The effectivewas born. They began discussness of the gear ing the need for an on tuna was RFA Mission: organization to repclear, but it came resent and protect Safeguard the rights of saltwater anglers; with negative the interests of saltimpacts to nonProtect marine, boat and tackle industry jobs; water anglers and target species Donofrio outlined and the recreaEnsure the long-term sustainability of our nation’s his vision for just tional offshore fisheries. such an organizafishing fleet that tion. He laid out a was generating bold vision for a grassroots political One thing Donofrio felt was para- strong economic benefits to action organization that he mount in establishing any grasscoastal areas. Something had to be deemed the equivalent of the NRA roots organization, whether it was done. The RFA took on the chala 501(c)(3) conservation types like lenge taking the concerns of its for recreational fishermen the Coastal Conservation Associa- members directly to Assistant SecWhile this was going on there was tion or a 501(c)(4) political action retary of Commerce Terry Garcia. a battle raging over NMFS decision groups like the RFA, was providing Donofrio held high level meetings to reopen the EEZ (waters outside a clear, concise mission statement with him and brought in a number 3 miles) to the harvest of a reby which that organization would of key legislators from the House bounding striped bass stock. This and Senate to put pressure on the operate. decision had serious implications DOC to stop this experimental fishfor the future of this highly valued “An organization’s mission stateery in its tracks and again won the recreational fishery and was being ment is its Bible and Ten Comday. opposed by a ragtag group of fish- mandments,” said Donofrio, “the ing clubs and state organizations pledge it makes with its members. with little success. Healey gave Too many conservation groups More important, albeit controverDonofrio a challenge: pull together have misled their members into sial victories followed that had a coalition of groups and individu- believing they could act as lobbybenefits for saltwater anglers als capable of halting the reopen- ists or deal with actions that were across the spectrum of bay, inshore ing—in essence prove you are capolitical in nature when nothing and offshore fishing, not to menpable— and he would provide could be further from the truth. tion the business side of marine startup money to build the political Others claim to represent recrearecreational fishing. One that action organization that Donofrio tional fishermen when their mis-
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yet the other organizations persisted. The work they did was resulting in a plan that was touted in press releases and “closing a half a million miles of ocean” to long lining. The problem was that the overwhelming majority of the closed area was inside 50 fathoms where pelagic long liners didn’t fish! Great press release, amazing spin, but no benefit to swordfish, billfish, sharks or recreationDonofrio is seen here testifying before the House Natural Resources Committee- al fishing!
Fisheries Subcommittee on Magnuson Reauthorization.
The RFA struck out alone obtaining documents and catch records came obvious that the direction the through the Freedom of Infortalks were taking would have no mation Act that clearly indicated impact on reducing the long lining where the highest catches of immadecimation of swordfish or byture swordfish and greatest bycatch impacts on billfish and sharks, catch of billfish was occurring and
would prove contentious was the battle to reign in pelagic long lining. While aimed primarily at the withering swordfish stocks off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts longlining was also decimating non -target species including billfish and sharks at an alarming rate. The number of boats in the fleet was totally unsustainable and the damage they were doing approaching incalculable! NMFS convened a working group of organizations that included the RFA, The Billfish Foundation, Coastal Conservation Association and the American Sportfishing Association, among others, to develop a negotiated settlement with the Bluewater Fishermen’s Association Donofrio works as comfortably with Republicans like Gov. Chris Christi (l) representing the longand Congressman John Boenher (r) as he does with leading democrats like liners. The RFA left the negotiations when it be- Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. and Senator Charles Schumer.
began crafting a strategy to implement time and area closures that would protect those areas year round in some cases, and seasonally in others. Donofrio assembled a group of legislators who were convinced that the negotiated settlement with the long liners was smoke and mirrors and that the RFA had identified the problem and a right solution. They forced NMFS to back away from the settlement language and unilaterally implement the Swordfish Fishery Management Plan with the critical time and area closures identified by the RFA. That was over ten years ago and the rest is history—swordfish stocks have rebounded, and white marlin and Atlantic sailfish stocks have jumped dramatically in the ensuing years. It also started a rift between the RFA and other organization that has been difficult to overcome.
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the legislative process when a bill they knew would have drastic negative impacts on their constituencies was being challenged in the lobbying efforts undertaken by the RFA. How did they know? We told them. We asked them to join a coalition to fix the language in the bill that has been used to shut down one important fishery after another
Rebuilding American Fisheries Bill” only to have those organizations side with the very environmental organizations like the Pew Foundation in undercutting our efforts to get it passed. They have gone so far as to champion opposing legislation that will not fix the problems at the heart of the issue and only muddy the waters making true reform all the harder to achieve.
All the while Donofrio remains resolute. “The RFA was created to provide a specific service to saltwater anglers and the industry and it continues to do so. We have held out our hands to other organizations to join us, but when their goal is control regardless of the success on these critical issues there is little we can do to try and be inclusive. So much of what we predicted would happen back in 2006 has come “We have often found ourto be. Bad science driving selves in the crosshairs of othhorrible management decier organizations that would sions; unnecessary closures; rather see the RFA go away precipitous drops in saltwathan work together to acter recreational fishing parcomplish the important work ticipation and regulations that needs to be done on beimposed on anglers that half of recreational fishermen are totally out of sync with and the industry,” Donofrio what fisheries management laments. “The RFA has been is supposed to be all about proven to be right time and When he isn’t busy taking care of RFA business continue with no end in time again, yet our work is sight. The RFA will continue he can sometimes be found catching dinner., often undercut by these orto work with legislators ganizations that should be who understand what is to recreational fishermen since working side by side with us. This happening and are willing to act 2007, yet they chose to walk away has never been truer than during while it fights for fishermen and a from the table and let it pass when, the run up to the 2007 reauthorizagrowing number of businesses in with their help, we had a good tion of the Magnuson Steven Act the recreational fishing community chance of correcting it before it beand our continued efforts to corwho get it.” came law.” rect this incredibly damaging legisWhere does Donofrio get his inlation since it was passed and Since 2007 the RFA has spearheadsight, devotion and passion to consigned into law. Industry organiza- ed the drive to stop the implementinue to fight on behalf of anglers? tions like the ASA and NMMA, and tation of measures that would The answer is simple. He is not and conservation groups that claim to prove devastating to the recreanever has been a Washington inrepresent saltwater anglers like the tional fishing community through sider. He’s one of us. A fisherman! CCA, were missing in action during legislative fixes in the “Flexibility in
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Op-Ed courtesy FoxNews.com
I AM THE RFA Capt. Pete Santini, Everett, Massachusetts By Barry Gibson The RFA membership is a diverse group that includes anglers, captains, business owners, biologists and more…. .Ask 100 Boston-area anglers who the best-known -- or just plain “best”—local fisherman is, and it’s a sure bet that at least 90 of them will say “Pete Santini!” Pete grew up in Medford, Massachusetts and was catching bluegills and perch at the age of three. When he was 12 he caught his first flounder in Boston Harbor, and instantly became hooked on salt water fishing. He opened a tackle shop in nearby Everett called Fishing FINatics in 1993, and now enjoys a reputation as the proprietor of “the busiest tackle shop in Boston.” He sells bait and gear for everything from trout to giant tuna. His specialty is trolling a tube-and-worm rig for striped bass that he designed over a decade ago and is appropriately called the Santini Tube. He sells the lures at the shop and through mail-order and they’ve accounted for literally thousands of big striped bass all along the East Coast. And Pete’s the real deal. He spends over 150 days a year on the water, both off Massachusetts from spring through fall, and in winter in the Galapagos Islands where he operates a charter boat that targets marlin, tuna, mahi, and wahoo. He runs the Zobo Flounder Tournament each May, the proceeds of which are given to the nurses who care for leukemia patients at Massachusetts General Hospital, and he’s the founder of
the popular Boston Harbor Striper Shootout that takes place every June and benefits the Veterans Home in Chelsea. On top of all this he appears on many TV fishing shows as guest pro, provides fishing reports, conducts talks and slide presentations, is a popular speaker on the New England Salt Water Sportsman Seminar tour where his enthusiasm for fishing is truly contagious. He is also the Boston rep for the International Game Fish Associa-
tion. We caught up with Pete, a long-time member of RFA and one of its most loyal supporters in the Boston area, in early November to ask him a few questions. RFA: Pete, you’ve offered on-thewater fishing instruction for a number of years now, and have been very successful at it. Why did you get into this side of the business? PS: I started to realize that we were losing an entire generation of fishermen. Fishing gradually became replaced by video games and other forms of entertainment, and those folks are now becoming parents themselves. The parents never fished much, so they can’t pass their knowledge and passion off to their kids, plus there are organizations with anti-fishing agendas that target children in the schools. I positively love to get out on the water with a family, and see a six-year-old catch his or her first flounder. Everyone gets excited, and more times than not these folks quickly turn into a real fishing family. I get a lot of satisfaction out of that. RFA: Are there any fisheries here in New England that concern you?
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do you feel is the most important for Boston-area anglers? PS: I’d have to say winter flounder. Although stripers are real popular, flounder can be caught by just about anyone with a rod and reel. They’re a great fish, terrific eating and not that hard to catch. A few dollars’ worth of rigs and seaworms, and away you go. You can catch flounder from the docks and shorelines all around Boston Harbor, or from a small boat, and have a good shot at bringing home enough fillets for three or four meals. Recreational flounder fishing is a whole industry in itself here, and the resource is healthy Pete loves introducing kids to fishing and enough so that fshery manseeing the smiles on their faces. agers should be able to extend the season into the fall. I know that’s somePS: I think our groundfish – mainly thing the RFA is working on. cod, haddock —are in trouble. We’ve had a lot of years of great fishing out RFA: You’ve been a member and proon Stellwagen Bank and the other moter of RFA for years. What is it offshore grounds, but this season about our organization that appeals we’ve seen a real decline. We’re catchto you? ing fewer fish everywhere we go, and PS: I like the fact that RFA’s key misthe sizes are smaller. I think the cursion is to safeguard the public’s right rent management system of catch of access to our salt water fish. Withshares has had a lot to do with it, because big draggers can now come into the inshore areas such as Stellwagen. We watched a free-for-all take place last winter and spring. The big boats need to stay offshore. RFA: The New England Fishery Management Council is considering opening up many of the areas currently closed to commercial groundfishing next spring. What’s your take on that? PS: I think it’s absolutely the wrong move from a conservation viewpoint. These areas are sanctuaries for whatever fish remain. If we open them up, the fish will have no place to hide. They’ll all get caught, and we’ll be in even worse shape. RFA: New England has lots of different fish that folks can catch. Which species
out reasonable access there would be no sport fishery, and none of the businesses that go along with it, including mine. And, we need to manage our fish stocks based on good science, not on politics or agendas driven by private organizations that simply want to restrict fishing. The RFA works tirelessly to make sure that each management decision that affects recreational fishermen has a solid foundation in accurate science. The RFA is the watchdog for anglers and the sport fishing industry, representing a lot of us who can’t go to every fishery meeting or write countless letters to politicians and fishery managers. I depend on the RFA to look out for me, my business, and my fishing customers. Being a supportive member, and encouraging others to join as well, is the least I can do in return. RFA: Last question – Pete, you fish for smelt, stripers, cod, tuna, and marlin, all with the same extraordinarily high level of enthusiasm. So what kind of fishing do you, personally, like best? PS: Believe it or not, it’s fishing the beaver ponds for brook trout near a house I own in Pittsburg, New Hampshire. When I’m up there with a fly rod in my hand, I truly relax!
Pete Santini’s shop, Fishing FINatics, is located at 99 Main St. Everett, MA; (617) 381-1997. You can check out his
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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
Pacific Halibut – Catch Sharing Plan In Alaska, the commercial-fishing dominated North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to reduce the allocation of Pacific halibut for "guided anglers" who choose to fish on charter boats, and re-allocate fish to quota share holders in the longline halibut fishery. Alaska Charter Association President Greg Sutter testified at the Council meeting in Anchorage in October, stating that all of the alternatives considered by the Council represent a reduction of allocation to the charter sector and pointed out the myriad of concerns about the proposal for "Guided Angler Fish" (GAF) which can be leased from commercial quota holders to allow anglers to pay for an extra fish. In 2011, a similar federal rule was issued and ACA, the RFA and many other recreational fishing groups raised a public education campaign within the state of Alaska, causing a record number of public comments to be submitted; the rule was withdrawn by NMFS. The same coalition is considering another campaign to quash this rule. "It sets an awful precedent where the public has to 'rent' the privilege to fish from catch share holders in the commercial sector, who never paid anything to obtain these fishing rights in the first place," said RFA's Jim Martin. Meanwhile, at the southern edge of the Pacific halibut's range, in California and southern Oregon, a different set of problems is emerging. The stock seems to be moving south and growing fast, while declining off Washington. Anglers out of Eureka report a stable, reliable and growing halibut fishery where catches were rare in years past. Many observers believe that the closure on trawling within 10 miles of the shore has allowed halibut populations in northern California to grow. With that success comes a price – the catches are exceeding a small allocation that is split between Southern Oregon and Northern California. RFA-NorCal's Jim Martin testified at the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Boise, ID and the Council held off on
new regulations that could have cut the re-emerging halibut fishery off California by up to 85%.
The New Abalone Wars In past decades, the recreational abalone divers fought a two-front war on commercial overfishing of abalone south of San Francisco, and against poachers north of the Golden Gate, where commercial abalone diving has been banned since the late 1940s. Today, we're in a much different situation. Commercial fishing for abalone has been under a moratorium since the late 'nineties, and poaching penalties have been vastly increased due to the efforts of groups like RFA-NorCal Chapter and the Sonoma County Abalone Network (SCAN). Yet dark clouds remain over the last of the world's remaining healthy recreational abalone fisheries. California Department of Fish and Game biologists have been pressing for a 25% reduction in the legal abalone taken in California. They point to a huge die-off last summer in the area around Fort Ross, Salt Point and other areas along the coast of Sonoma County, north of San Francisco. Once again, the legal divers for abalone are being penalized for forces beyond their control. When punch-cards were introduced to the fishery, it started at 100 abs a year and quickly went down to the current annual limit of 24 per person. The daily limit is 3 per day, and the fishery enjoys a high Catch Per Unit of Effort (CPUE) where nearly everyone who dives or "rock-picks" for these tasty marine snails gets a limit. In 2013, California's network of "marine protected areas" will be complete, and many abalone hunting grounds have already been placed off-limits to abalone diving as well as all most other types of fishing. Yet these new closed areas are not being considered as "replenishment zones" and the State Agency Biologists do not consider any positive influence from these new MPAs. After years of propaganda about "rebuilding fisheries" with marine reserves, we are seeing no benefit from them – only more proposals for cutbacks. RFA-NorCal will be at the next Fish and Game Commission meeting to weigh in on the proposed cut-backs in the abalone fishery.
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9th Annual Randy Fry "Big X" Memorial Freediving Tournament and Iron Diver Chef Seafood Challenge Benefits RFANorCal Chapter
And the winners were... MEN'S ABALONE 1. Jim Christopherson: 9.968" 2. Tim Nickels: 9.925" 3. M. Gomez: 9.77" WOMEN'S ABALONE 1. Star Argo: 9.226" 2. Jo Willeford: 9.196 MEN'S SPEARFISH 1. Dennis Haussler: 64.2 points 2. Adam Sauve: 46.1 Matt Mattison: 37.3 WOMEN'S SPEARFISH 1. Tarney Haussler: 6.8 points JUNIOR WOMEN 1. Jo Willeford POLE SPEAR 1. Tony Vau: 27.8 points
Over sixty divers competed in this super event on October 13th. It was co-hosted by the RFA-NorCal Chapter and the NorCal Dive Club and held at Pacific Star Winery on the Mendocino Coast (www.pacificstarwinery.com).
IRON DIVER CHEF Seafood Cook-off: 1. John Hayes & "The Salty Dawgs" 2. Eugene Porter & "Randy's Raw Bar" 3. Larry Ankuda, Rob Wolf & "the Wolfpack"
The competitors were treated to good ocean conditions, sunny weather, wine tasting and a fantastic effort by five teams in the Iron Diver Chef Seafood Challenge. We raised nearly $6,000 for the RFA-NorCal Chapter, which will help fund travel expenses to the important public hearings that affect our fishery and to visit with key legislators. Amadeo Bachar contributed the artwork for the t-shirts and hoodies made for the event and a special thanks goes out to all of the sponsors who helped make the raffle a success: Roger Thomas, Salty Lady Sportfishing NorCal Underwater Hunters Hammerhead Spearguns Amadeo Bachar: Fine Art Pacific Star Winery The Beach House Inn Noyo Fishing Center SubSurface Progression Dive Shop in Fort Bragg Telstar Charters The Free Dive Shop in Sacramento Banks Boards Phil Herranen Spearguns Pierson's Building Supply in Eureka Dick's Place in Mendocino Hulicat Charters in Half Moon Bay Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino End of the World Rowing Club in Noyo Harbor Metropolis Bakery, San Francisco The Speargear Shop
Jo Willeford took second place in the womenâ€™s abalone
RFA-Florida Update Capt. Rick Hale, President firstname.lastname@example.org Forgotten Coast Chapter RFA-FL Forgotten Coast Chapter Capt. Tom Adams In spite of an unprecedented amount of money being funneled to Jim
Page 38 Clements and the Gulf Fishermen’s Alliance (representing maybe 10 percent of commercial fishermen) by various environmental groups to try and stop Congressman Steve Southerland’s bid for re-election, he won handily. Southerland is a Republican, but his performance in his first term gained him overwhelming support in a district that has over 60% registered Democrat. He even won in Calhoun County which is over 70 percent Democrat. Congressman Southerland is a man who works hard for what his constituents want and need and has been tireless in his efforts to get our economy turned around for the better and fishing, both commercial and recreational, is a major part of the coastal economy of the Florida panhandle. In the name of fairness Southerland had to go up against environmental giants like the Pew Foundation and the Enviornmental Defense Fund. That painted a target on his back for this past election and they came after him through their surrogate organizations and people who have been promised a huge economic windfall from the implementation of catch shares. With their wallets flush with EDF cash to spend on the election Internet postings, newspaper articles, advertisements and even billboards filled with lies decried Congressman Southerland. Thankfully the mudslinging was not enough to disparage a good man and a solid representative of his constituency. When you win an election in a district that is registered 60% for the opposing party and win with 71% of the vote you are truly a representative of and by the people. The members of the Recreational Fishing Alliance were proud to support Congressman Southerland. Hats off to all District 2 residents. We should be proud of ourselves for keeping the democratic process alive and well here in Northern Florida.
EDF Stacks Gulf Council Committees
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. The North Florida chapters of the RFA have been closely monitoring the appointment process for key committee positions on the Gulf Council, committees that will have a big influence on the shape of management of red snapper and other commercial and recreational fisheries. The outcome so far does not bode well for the majority of fishermen who are opposed to sector separation and the imposition of catch shares in the recreational snapper fishery. Of a total of 66 positions on four key committees we have identified 48 seats being held by pro-EDF individuals who are pushing to usurp the snapper fishery for the benefit of a few. We have been amazed by the power that EDF has wielded in the appointment process making sure that their chosen few dominate positions while truly independent fishermen from the majority who want nothing to do with catch shares who attempt to get on these committees don’t even get so much as a return phone call.
In many cases the EDF plants on committees like the Ad Hoc Headboat Committee don’t even own or operate a boat, but some are already vested in large numbers of commercial catch shares. To those of you who have been following the catch shares debate the names will stand out loud and clear. The following is a list committee members with an asterisk next to those members who are identified as either financially involved with organizations funded by EDF or have supported sector separation and catch shares. Those who sit on multiple committees have double asterisks.
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Ad Hoc Headboat Scott Hickman* Mike Jennings** David Krebs** Tom Marvel, Jr.* Michael Miglini** George Niles Kelty Readenour* Gary Smith Donald Waters* Troy Williamson Council Rep.: Myron Fischer Staff Rep.: Richard Leard/Assane Diagne**
Ad Hoc Mackerel LAPP Tom Becker Randy Boggs, Chair** Evonn Caraway* Cliff Cox* Chad Haggert, Vice Chair* Scott Hickman** Michael Miglini** Ed Schroeder Steve Tomeny* John Williams* Staff Rep.: Assane Diagne**
Ad Hoc Reef Fish LAPP Bill Bird Randy Boggs** Elizabeth Fetherston* Martin Fisher Troy Frady* Scott Hickman** Gary Jarvis* David Krebs** Edwin Lamberth Donald Leal* Julie Morris* Mike Nugent TJ Tate* Bill Tucker* Richard Wallace, Ph.D.* Troy Williamson Chair: Steve Bortone* Vice Chair: Julie Morris* Council Rep.: Bob Gill* Staff Rep.: Assane Diagne*
Data Collection Patrick Bennett Glen Brooks* Jason DeLaCruz* Suzanne Delaune Troy Frady* Brad Gorst* Chad Hanson*
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Matt Hill * Gary Jarvis** Michael Kelly Brad Kenyon* Camp Matens Michael Miglini** Bart Niquet* Tracy Redding* John Schmidt* Robert Spaeth Russell Stewart Bobby Terrebonne* Elbert Whorton* Bob Zales, II Council Rep.: Harlon Pearce* Staff Rep.: John Froeschke*
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 email@example.com.
RFA New England Update Capt. Barry Gibson RFA New England Regional Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Anglers Face Potential Major Cod, Haddock Cuts in 2013 Preliminary numbers from the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC), made available this past August, indicate that the catch of Gulf of Maine cod may need to be reduced by a whopping 72 percent in 2013.An assessment of the condition of cod stocks, conducted in late 2011, seemed to point to a significant decline in the populations of these important game and food fish. Fishery managers had earlier predicted that cod stocks were rebuilding, but the assessment suggested that cod were actually heavily overfished. So, earlier this year, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) tasked the Council to come up with a revised recovery plan to end overfishing. Because a new plan would be complicated and time-consuming to create, an agreement was reached to cut the commercial and recreational catch of cod for this year – 2012 – by just 22 percent from the 2011 catch. The big reduction would take place in 2013. New regulations for the recreational fishing sector this year included a drop in the size limit from 24 inches to 19 inches (to reduce discard mortality) and a reduction in the bag limit from ten to nine cod per person per day. Make no mistake, this was an interim “gift” to sport fishermen this year. But if the full 72 percent reduction goes into effect for 2013, what can we expect for regulations? Rumors have run rampant, but it’s possible the recreational
sector could see a 24-inch (or higher) minimum size again, and possibly a two- or three- fish per day bag limit along with it. Alternatively, there could be a significantly shortened season, perhaps just July and August. Or, anglers could end up with some combination of the above. Regardless, if it’s indeed a 72 percent cut it won’t be pretty. There are, however, a couple of mitigating circumstances. The 2011 cod assessment has come under a lot of fire for some of its assumptions and methodologies, and there’s a big push on to have it either re-conducted or critically examined. If either takes place, there’s a possibility that the numbers may turn out differently, and a smaller reduction in catch might do the rebuilding trick. Another hope for the recreational sector may lie within the new way that NMFS performs it recreational fishing survey. The new survey system, implemented this year, is said to be much more accurate than the old “telephone book surveys” of the past. As of early September, the new system indicated that the recreational catch of cod in 2012 may only be a fraction of what was estimated for 2010 and 2011. Therefore, it is possible that anglers may not see as much of a reduction in 2013 as initially projected. A separate Gulf of Maine haddock assessment conducted late last year also indicates that this stock is in far worse shape than anticipated, and a massive 76% reduction in the recreational Annual Catch Limit (ACL) is likely. Anglers had no bag limit in 2012, but this may drop to a potential two or three fish per day in 2013. The NEFMC’s Recreational Advisory Panel (RAP) met in early October to prioritize measures for these potential reductions. The RAP first voted to give the NEFMC the authority to implement separate but conservationally equivalent measures for the for-hire and private recreational sectors. Subsequent votes established a priority of increasing minimum fish sizes for both cod and haddock. There are a lot of unanswered questions as to what will actually happen on May 1, 2013, the formal beginning of next year’s saltwater fishing season, but one thing is certain – RFA’s officers and members in New England will continue to stay heavily involved in this issue every step of the way.
Closed Fishing Grounds May Be Reopened. Earlier this year the NEFMC voted to consider allowing commercial sectors to request exemptions to a number of areas in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank that have been closed to commercial activity for as long as 20 years or more. The idea is that now, under sector management and catch shares, there are “hard” ACLs so some on the NEFMC feel it makes little difference where the fish are caught. One area, the Western Gulf of Maine Closed Area (WGOMCA), is of particular concern to recreational fishermen. This 1,100-square-mile tract of bottom off Massachu-
setts, New Hampshire and Maine, which encompasses productive Jeffreys Ledge, has been closed to commercial fishing sine 1998. It has been about the only reasonably good fishing ground for cod and haddock within reach of party/ charter and private boats operating north of Gloucester. The current proposal for Framewok 48, the groundfish plan the NEFMC is currently crafting, is to open up a north-south strip along the eastern edge of the WGOMCA. Unfortunately, this is where many of the recreational boats fished in 2012 while pursuing pollock (as cod catches were way off due to large draggers fishing the inshore grounds) so there is likely to be gear conflict, as well as local depletion of bottom fish, in this area in 2013. At its October meeting, the RAP voted unanimously to maintain the status quo of the WGOMCA and keep it closed in its entirety, citing potential negative impacts on the groundfish resource, habitat concerns, and gear conflict. The RAP also voted to maintain the status quo of all other areas currently closed to commercial activity. How these potential openings will play out in Framework 48 is unclear at this time, but again, RFA will continue as a major player in the deliberations. The plan is scheduled to be implemented this coming spring.
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On a Brighter Note! Not all is doom and gloom in New England. Here were some bright spots in 2012: ----Lots of small stripers in the 12” to 19” range were seen virtually everywhere. I received numerous reports of these fish in many rivers and bays from Massachusetts all the way up through the Maine coast. Good news, for sure. ---The National Marine Fisheries Service recently did a survey of Gulf of Maine winter flounder, and found that stocks are much healthier that previously believed. So, in response, NMFS has doubled the commercial catch limits in the EEZ. New England’s coastal states have yet to relax sport flounder regulations in response, but the RFA intends to keep the pressure on. ---Bluefish ranged as far north as the central Maine coast in good numbers in July, and many guides and anglers reported some of the best bluefishing in years. Although the average size of the of fish has been a bit smaller than in the heyday of the 1980s, they’re still running a respectable three to ten pounds, with a few bigger ones mixed in. --Shark fishing was great in many areas. A number of charter skippers called to tell me that they had never seen such big blue sharks, many topping the 200-pound mark. Some jumbo threshers to 300 pounds were taken as well.
Capt. Barry Gibson is RFA’s New England Director. He serves as chairman of the NEFMC’s Recreational Advisory Panel (RAP), 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 with Salt Water Sportsman magazine, and has owned and operated a charter boat business in Boothbay Harbor, ME, since 1971.
RFA-New Jersey Update Capt. Adam Nowalski email@example.com
New quota restrictions could have a severe impact on the recreational cod season and bag limits next year.
The Mid-Atlantic Council met in Long Branch, and in the October 18, 2012 report from the Northeast Office (NMFS), it was announced that the Feds were pursuing an emergency closure of the black sea bass fishery in federal waters for the remainder of 2012. This is a result of the 2012 landings through August are at 2.3 million lbs. and our coastwide quota for 2012 was less than 1.4 million lbs. This was the result of highly suspect landings data from Massachusetts that indicated that their landings mysteriously increased 20 fold or better in a two month period, which again brings into question the use of recreational landing projections whether they are based on the old MRFSS program or the supposedly improved MRIP data. It seems we are dealing with data that has little or no basis in science or fact, but the result is the same, the fishery will be closed, most likely for no good reason at all.
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This closure comes partially as a result of the Council Omnibus Amendment from a couple years back. If not for the fight lead by the RFA at that time, this closure would have likely been levied much earlier this year. But NMFS had to wait until landings exceeded the year's target as opposed to just basing things on projections. (August data showed that 1.1 million lbs. had been caught in May and June. Projecting that out would have likely resulted in emergency closure action being pursued at that time.)
hope that we'll have something better to report in the coming months. We needed a miracle to save the sea bass season a few years ago and we got one. This mess wasn't created overnight, and it won't be fixed overnight. Here's hoping again.
So where to now? Well, next week the states will be meeting in Philadelphia, and on Thursday, a discussion of a closure of state waters will no doubt occur (ASMFC Summer Flounder, Scup, Black Sea Bass Management Board). A few years back the states did not close state waters when NMFS closed Federal waters, but the result of this discussion may be different this time in consideration of the ramifications for 2013. Part of the above referenced Omnibus Amendment calls for recreational lb.-for-lb. payback of overages. Overages are supposed to be averaged over a 3 year period, but this is the first year operating under this system so we only have one year of data. The math, although straightforward, is ugly. 2.3 million lbs. landed through August. September and half of October fishing occurred. 3+ million lbs. of landings according to MRFSS/MRIP is very possible. If we land 3.2 million lbs. (numbers to be reported in December), we will have exceeded our 2012 quota by 1.8 million lbs. (3.2 million lbs. of landings vs. 1.4 million lb. harvest limit, these are approximations). Our 2013 quota is 1.8 million lbs. Deduct a 1.8 million lb. 2012 overage from a 1.8 million lb. 2013 quota and we are left with - NOTHING FOR 2013. Right now, I don't know what this means for Jan/Feb sea bass fishing. Currently, the federal rule has the season open then and the state of NJ has done its diligence in being ready to open the season. But as a result of the above, the closure may extend well into 2013. We won't know until NMFS publishes its notice of emergency action in the next couple of weeks. While I can't guarantee anything, I can assure you that a lot of people will be working overtime on this, not just at the RFA, but I believe the Council and NMFS recognize that this outcome is unacceptable for a rebuilt stock where overfishing is not occurring. (Remember, overfishing by definition doesn't have to do with the quota but is instead of a measure of taking too many fish for the stock to remain sustainable. The Black Sea Bass overfishing limit is actually well over 7 million lbs. Although that number has uncertainty around it, even when you add the high rec landings with the commercial landings, we are still well below the overfishing level.) In addition to working with the Council and NMFS, RFA will also be working hard on political fronts as this is just further ammunition of the threat to fishing that an unreformed Magnuson Stevens Act poses. Thanks to all of you, and I
Black sea bass are a popular target for rec fishermen on private boats and an important species for headboats sailing in the Mid-Atlantic region. This closure comes at a time when there are few, if any, available species for this segment of the for-hire fleet to fish for.
5th Annual Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh Fluke Tournament The Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh held their 5th Annual Fluke Tournament on Saturday, August 18, 2012. Despite the early rain & rough seas, the tournament registered 116 boats and had two weigh-in stations, one out of the Shark River Inlet and one out the Manasquan Inlet. Many of the participants reported they had a great day of fishing with many keeper fluke caught in the 3 to 4 pound range. First place went to Bill Baker from Brielle who caught an
8.50 pound fluke. Second and third place went to Charlie Parker with a 7.87 lb and a 7.22 lb fish. Fourth and fifth place was a tie with a 7.00 lb fish caught by both Jeff Crilly and Mike Wells. Al Durso, who caught a 6.90 lb fluke, took 6th place. The largest fluke caught by a Shillelagh member went to George Snowden with a 4.74 pound fish. Afterwards, over 500 anglers enjoyed an awards picnic hosted by the Shillelagh Club located on 16th. Ave. in Belmar, NJ. All proceeds from the Tournament will be donated to the Recreational Fishing Alliance, and the FSOS Foundation,
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Suffolk Counties on Long Island and 37,500 in the Rockaways in New York City due to the severe flooding from Sandy that damaged electrical panels, wires, outlets and appliances, therefore making it unsafe to restore service. One of the hardest areas along the entire Atlantic Coast is the coastal Queens region, where a devastating fire on the Rockaway Peninsula at the height of the storm left 111 homes burned to the ground, 20 more heavily damaged. Reports there show not a single building on Breezy Point, Queens was left unscathed, coupled by a rising storm surge and the ensuring fire which ravaged blocks and blocks of homes on the barrier island. In the days following the storm, one Far Rockaway couple teamed up to bring emergency medical relief to devastated victims of Sandy--despite being victims themselves. Dr. John Meringolo (an anesthesiologist) and his wife Margaret (a registered nurse) have been providing medical assistance to residents at a makeshift triage center at St. Francis De Sales Church on B. 129 Street. "I saw a man this morning, he suffered a head wound when his crowbar slipped and hit him in the head as he renovated his house," John Meringolo told the NY Post last week. After applying pressure on the wound, he sent the man to a local hospital for further treatment.
Photo: Bill Baker, winner of the Shillelagh Fluke Tournament, along with Tournament Director Gary Friedhoff and Executive Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance Jim Donofrio
The Meringolo's home was damaged during Sandy and they were forced to temporarily relocate. The couple, who have three children, put their jobs on hold to lend a hand to those still suffering. "We took care of our home and kids, now it's time to help the community," John told the NY Post.
RFA-New York Update
Dr. John Meringolo is on the Board of Directors of the New York Sportfishing Federation.
New York Sport Fishing Federation (NYSF) Jim Hutchinson firstname.lastname@example.org Dateline, November 12th. It’s two weeks after ‘superstorm’ Sandy devastated the region, and tens of thousands of New Yorkers remain without power with hundreds, many without homes. On behalf of our members and friends in the business community, the New York Sportfishing Federation offers its prayers, condolences and support, however and wherever possible. When Sandy officially made landfall along the New Jersey coast on October 29, it forced power outages for nearly 8.5 million customers in 21 states, though the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) suffered the greatest loss with about 1.1 million electric customers. A second follow-up nor’easter just days later was responsible for knocking out another 123,000 customers. As of November 12, LIPA has said it could not restore power to about 17,500 homes and businesses in Nassau and
Southwest of Queens, across the Narrows in Staten Island, fellow New York Sportfishing Federation Board member John Malizia is also in the midst of Sandy’s devastation, specifically in the Great Kills and Midland Beach neighborhood where eight people in the area drowned during the storm. “There are many people on Staten Island as well as Long Island that still have no electricity and have heavy damage to their property our prayers go out to them,” Malizia said via email on November 12 after finally getting electricity returned after two straight weeks. Malizia too was one of the relative lucky ones whose home was spared during the storm. “My boat got some damage, but the marinas and homes near the marinas were heavily damaged,” Malizia added. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano visited Staten Island during the Veteran’s Day weekend to survey relief efforts and cleanup programs, where a huge parking lot was filled with trailers and a supply distribution tent,
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plus another tent where residents who lost their houses were registering for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance.
ter business, but I don’t think we’ll have any business now. The way Long Island has been destroyed, I don’t know who’s going to be doing parties.”
According to Staten Island Borough President James Molinari, the biggest problem now is returning power to 10,000 homes which he said can't be done until each home is inspected to make sure it's not corroded by saltwater. Molinari also said that about 17,000 Staten Island residents have been interviewed by FEMA employees and almost $39 million has been distributed.
Hutchinson said it’s expected that businesses will be reeling for some time due to the sheer devastation, but told the NY Daily News recently that there are other things the government can do to help support New York’s coastal fishing community. “Throughout New York and New Jersey we have lost so many marinas, bait and tackle shops, and boats damaged beyond repair, (that) our industry is really in a state of despair. It’s not likely we can begin to rebuild, especially with pending regulations that won't allow us to fish rebuilt fishery stocks.”
“Our board of directors is very much a microcosm of New York’s marine district, with representatives from throughout the region from north to south, east to west,” explained New York Sportfishing Federation president Jim Hutchinson, Jr. “Just like the state overall, some of our board members are in the thick of it, some were spared, but we’re all tied into this thing together.” New York Sportfishing Federation board member Bob Danielson was activated to the New York Department of Transportation’s Emergency Operations Center in Hauppauge and is working around the clock to help remediate travel issues in that region. Meanwhile, the board’s vice-president Chuck Hollins is currently working clean-up at the Bob Sweeney Sport Fishing Education Center in Babylon, where New York Sportfishing Federation and other groups regularly meet. Fellow New York Sportfishing Federation board member Kathy Heinlein is also president of the Captree Boatmen's Association at Captree State Park; a NY Daily News report said for-hire vessels in the Captree Boat Basin fleet were mostly unscathed, but they will not be permitted to resume schedules until Captree State Park is reopened which could have devastating financial impacts. Board member and North Fork charter boat captain Joe Paradiso personally fared well during the storm, saying “both house and boat are ok, thank god.” Another charter boat captain on the New York Sportfishing Federation board of directors, Capt. Mike Barnett of Freeport, was equally lucky in that his boat the Codfather weathered the storm in its slip. “It was like nothing we’d ever seen before. It knocked boats off the blocks and they traveled and ended up on people’s front lawns. It was one big collision in the boatyard with no one there,” Barnett told Newsweek’s Daily Beast. “I prepared for the worst, and this was much worse than the worst,” he added. Capt. Mike’s Freeport neighbors were not as fortunate. “It’s destroyed my business,” said Capt. Frank Rizzo, whose mother, Elsie Rizzo, is the owner of Miss Freeport V, which for the past 12 years has chartered fishing trips and party cruises. “Sandy ruined two boats, ruined the office, and ruined all our storage,” he says. “We were counting on win-
“The federal government, as part of its emergency declarations, needs to make an emergency winter opening of our healthy black sea bass fishery,” Hutchinson added, explaining how a federal disaster declaration could provide those party boats with an opportunity to get people back to the fishing grounds this winter to fish on a rebuilt sea bass stock. “I know it’s hard, darn near close to impossible for some to think about fishing for fun right now, but in terms of our contribution to the local business community, the sooner our New York Sportfishing Federation members can get back on the water, the quicker we can return to some sense of normalcy,” Hutchinson added.
Watch these pages for more State Chapter updates in the future.
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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
Kim Forgach Administrative Assistant
Jim Martin West Coast Regional Director
Jim Hutchinson Jr Managing Director
Gary Caputi Corporate Relations Director
Patrick Paquette National Shore Access Representative
John DePersenaire Policy & Science Researcher
Capt. Barry Gibson New England Regional Director
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The Official News Magazine of the Recreational Fishing Alliance