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Making Waves |

Spring 2014

What to do about Striped Bass?

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MAGNUSON REFORM

Finally the topic moves to the front burner for more than the RFA! MUST-READ ESSAY

Environmentalism and the Decline of the West. THE MIDATLANTIC

One of Billfishing’s Biggest Venues to Benefit the RFA! Check out what’s new at this Cape May, NJ Classic.

The debate begins on page 22 Plus New Angler Advocates, Local Issues from around the Coast and More!

Profile TOM DAMMRICH

President, National Marine Manufacturers Association Spring 2014/Volume 3, Issue 1


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Making Waves |

Spring 2014


Spring 2014 Volume 3, Issue 1

FROM THE PUBLISHER’S DESK By Gary Caputi

Morris-Deal Commission Reaffirms RFA Stance on Magnuson Reform!

INSIDE THIS ISSUE Executive Director’s Report: Finally, A Unified Industry

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servation and Management Act (MSA) reauthorization advances on Capitol Hill, Bass Pro Shops Founder Johnny Morris and Maverick Boats President Scott Deal, leaders in the recreational angling industry and co-chairmen of the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, will present A Vision for Managing America's Saltwater Recreational Fisheries at the National Press Club on March 26, 2014, from 9:30-10:30 a.m.

RFA Issues & News

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Profile: Thomas J. Dammrick President, National Marine Manufacturers Association

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The report was indeed presented and was quickly endorsed by the American Sportfishing Association; the Center for Coastal Conservation; National Marine Manufacturers Association; and the Coastal Conservation Associations. Not surprising as they were much involved in having this ad hoc Commission assemble “an expert panel of state and federal agency administrators, researchers, industry representatives and economists to promote a proactive vision for saltwater fisheries management.” What was surprising to many is the report reads like a litany of the issues the RFA raised back in 2006 predicting the damage that would occur if it the last reauthorization was passed as written.

Meet RFA’s Newest Angler Advocates

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RFA to Benefit from MidAtlantic Marlin Tournament

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What to do About Striped Bass? John DePersenaire

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MUST-READ ESSAY Environmentalism and the Decline of the West.

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State Chapter News RFA Boots on the Ground Around the Nation

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From a press release issued last month: As the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Con-

The words of Thomas Dammrich, president of the NMMA from his profile in this issue pretty much say it all. “The RFA was right, there’s no mistaking that, and recreational fishermen and the industry are now fighting an uphill battle to insure recreational fisheries are managed better and differently in a reauthorized Magnuson.” Now that we are pretty much all on common ground, can we please work together on Magnuson Reform, the most pressing issue facing the saltwater recreational fishermen and the industry. Unified, we can fix it in 2014.


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Spring 2014

Executive Director’s Report

Finally, A Unified Industry By Jim Donofrio The realization that the RFA had Magnuson Reform right back in 2006 has stuck home and it appears we are moving toward reauthorization with a common vision in 2014!

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t took over 16 years, but it appears as if the division between some of the leading national and regional organizations may be coming to an end. More specifically, the management issues that have kept some of our groups divided for so long seem finally to be the same issues bringing folks together today, which is tremendous news for those of us who’ve been pushing for pragmatic fisheries reform. Since the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 , and then the subsequent reauthorization of the

Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 2006 just 10 years later, many of the recreational fishing organizations have been greatly divided. Regrettably, it took time for many folks in the marine and tackle industry to see exactly how the long-term effects of a poorly written federal fisheries law would affect their bottom line due to reduced angler access.

Many industry professionals sat back and did not challenge the newly implemented laws, perhaps out of fear for being labeled anti-conservation. After all, who are we to challenge

“sustainable fisheries” or “fishery conservation” in the face of rigid 21 st Century environmentalism? Then again, saltwater anglers are the true conservationists; but as we found out over time, when coastal fisheries get healthier and fully rebuilt – in some cases even some overbuilt - anglers only lose more access under the current law. Thanks to a recent study funded by Johnny Morris of Bass Pro Shops and Scott Deal of Maverick Boats , it appears that Congress is hearing the unified message that we can balance commerce and conservation by providing anglers with more reasonable access to our marine resources. The results of the Morris-Deal study proves exactly what we have to accomplish at the federal level in order to get our anglers fishing while maintaining the strong conservation goals that we’ve always supported. As you’re quite aware, we at the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) have been asking Congress for that type of action for over 7 years, often on our own - but this particular study and the organizations that support the effort, with

the leadership of National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), is helping to deliver a unified message to members of Congress and their staff. If you remember back to our Absurdity in Fisheries Management series which ran in 2013, RFA has been extremely vocal about the lunacy of managing recreational fishermen the same way as commercial fishermen. The ongoing pressure by grassroots angling activists carrying the RFA banner has made clear the need for an overhaul of the Magnuson Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act to better represent saltwater anglers. Let’s hope by working together, we can pass a House and Senate Magnuson Reform bill that will allow better access while ensuring the conservation of our nation’s fisheries. RFA has always believed that both are compatible – hence the driving purpose of the RFA’s 16-year mission, “ To safe-

guard the rights of saltwater anglers, protect marine, boat and tackle industry jobs and ensure the long-term sustainability of U.S. saltwater fisheries.”


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Spring 2014


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RFA Issues & News By Jim Hutchinson, RFA Managing Director

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

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nities that depend on stable fishing activities. "This draft addresses the requests of fishermen, fishing communities, fishery management Councils, and the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences that the Act be modified to provide fishery managers with more flexibility. That’s the key word: flexibility,” said Chairman Hastings. “The draft provides the Councils with more flexibility in how they rebuild fisheries, and it provides Councils with flexibility in how the Councils set the Annual Catch Limits. But it does not eliminate those requirements. This discussion draft maintains the requirement to stop overfishing, the requirement to rebuild overfished fisheries, and the requirement to set annual catch limits – but it provides more flexibility for better, local decisions to achieve these goals.” Testifying on behalf of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) and its members nationwide, Jeff Deem noted “Flexibility is a common theme throughout the discussion draft. The Recreational Fishing Alliance strongly supports the use of limited, common sense flexibility in rebuilding fish stocks and with ending overfishing.” Read more about this at the House Natural Resources Committee website.

SIDES LINE UP TO DEBATE FISHING MEASURE With economic pain spreading — from a downsizing New England fishing fleet to the continued depression of the New Jersey recreational industry from superstorm Sandy — fishing industry advocates are pressing for changes to the federal fisheries law and environmental groups are fighting to keep reforms they won years ago. Amendments to the law proposed by Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Washington) who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, would give those economic factors a bigger role in government management and decision making, allowing easing the timelines for rebuilding depleted fish stocks; meanwhile showroom environmentalists like Pew Charitable Trusts, a major financial backer of efforts to change fisheries management and help destroy local fishing communities, have been spending much of their time and money trying to submarine efforts by coastal anglers.

Making Waves |

Spring 2014

BATTLE LINES FORM OVER CHANGES TO FEDERAL FISHING LAW New Jersey newspapers were comprehensive in their coverage of the recent efforts by the Pew Charitable Trusts to sway public opinion by way of telephone press conference with various members of the media. While U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., has a plan to ease up on stock rebuilding to help fishermen immediately called the “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act,” the showroom environmentalists at Pew have called it the “Empty Oceans Act.” The Atlantic City Press of New Jersey quoted RFA’s Jim Hutchinson as saying “If the goal of Magnuson was to grow fish stocks, then it was a success. It was not the goal. It was designed to have fish and to create a robust fishing community. If you don’t have fishermen, then Magnuson is not a success. Magnuson is only providing positive results for half the equation.” RFA Executive Director Jim Donofrio said the 10-year rebuilding for each species the Magnuson revisions called for “is an arbitrary number” that has kept fishermen off the water. It was pulled out of a hat,” Donofrio said. “In a dynamic marine environment, there is no time frame. If stocks are on an upward trend, let us go fishing. We’re going to get behind Doc’s bill. It’s a good start.” Click here to check out the Atlantic City Press Article.

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We receive income from Viridian each month our supporters pay their utility bill, while you save money over time. How is this possible? The deregulation of energy has allowed customers the opportunity to choose “These guys are trying to sandbag this,” Jim their electricity supplier. Your utility company will still Hutchinson Jr. of the New Jersey-based Recreational deliver the same reliable energy you've always had Fishing Alliance said of his Pew rivals. “We’ve had eight hearings over the last three years” with Congress and service your needs, as well as provide you with the same, simple bill. hearing fishermen’s complaints, he said. Switch your energy supplier today in just minutes on Click here to check out the Asbury Park Press article.


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our site and you are on your way to cleaner, more affordable energy for your home or small business. For details, go to www.viridian.com/joinrfa.

BUCCANEER CUP RESULTS When the going gets tough, the tough get going! The team of the Miss Annie, a 55’ Viking led by Captain Randy Yates, made the most of two slick calm days of fishing during which the sailfish were not hard to find, but pretty reluctant to eat.

60 for 24 boats and the weather forecast for Day Two was a mild breeze from the west and another slick calm day—not the kind of weather conducive to generating a killer bite even after two successive cold fronts had passed through just days before the tournament.

Capt. Paulie Petruska, a.k.a. Penthouse Paulie, was hard pressed to stay awake in the radio room on Day Two as the fishing slowed to a crawl, but one boat, observer on board, kept calling in releases starting within minutes of lines in the water—the Miss Annie. Fishing live bait the team racked up 1,200 hardSeems Yates had found himself a hotspot where he earned points on Day One of the 2014 Buccaneer Cup, while dead bait trollers were on top of the leader was able to coax fish to hit the live baits suspended from the two kites he was permitted to fly by tournaboard. The Apava under the skilled hands of Capt. ment rules. Scott Fawcett, the Champagne Lady with Josh Chaney at the helm and Fa La Me with last year’s IGFA Captain of the Year Rob Moore doing the honors, While the fishing was tough, the competition was up all put 1500 points on the leader board. Petunia, with to the challenge and comments at the Awards Dinner Capt. Mike Morano in charge fished live bait to put up were positive about the tournament and how well it 1400 points, which left the Miss Annie in 5th place at was run. Keep in mind that ALL THE PROCCEEDS the end of the day, but Day Two dawned with a total- from the Buccaneer Cup are donated to the Florida Fish for Life Cancer Charity and the Recreational Fishly different outcome. ing Alliance. Get the full tournament results in RFA’s A total number of releases on Day One was a meager News area.

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ANGLING BLUEFIN QUOTA UNDER ATTACK BY LONGLINE FLEET

Making Waves |

Spring 2014

Donofrio, adding “the longstanding regulations require that bluefin caught by longliners in excess of the 8.1% allocation must be discarded, most often dead, which then are allowed to sink to the bottom of the ocean.”

The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) has officially weighed in with the federal government on a plan which would hand over recreational quota of bluefin tuna to commercial longliners to make up for that secAs a typical example, RFA said longliners were altor’s large percentage of dead bluefin bycatch. lowed to keep and sell a maximum of 89 metric tons of bluefin last year, but they exceeded the adjusted According to RFA, U.S. Gulf and Atlantic longliners quota by 218%, resulting in the discard of an estimathave incurred substantial incidental bycatch of bluefin ed 239 metric tons of bluefin, or in other words, aptuna over the past few decades, ranging from young proximately 25% of the total U.S. quota. juveniles to giants. Longliners are actually targeting swordfish or yellowfin, but they also catch more than “This wasteful practice should be addressed, first and 80 different bycatch species, including bluefin, which foremost, by putting regulations in place intended to has resulted in hundreds of tons of bluefin bycatch rigorously restrict this excessive and uncontrolled incieach year for the past three decades or more. The dental bycatch by the U.S. longline industry,” vast majority of bluefin bycatch by longliners comes Donofrio said. “NMFS certainly shouldn’t be rewardfrom fishing grounds off of the Mid Atlantic coast and ing longliners for these actions, but that’s what in the Gulf of Mexico. they’re proposing.” “Bluefin bycatch in the longline fishery has become uncontrollable and NMFS has taken very few steps to reduce the bycatch,” said RFA executive director Jim

Check out RFA news about the longline fight by clicking here.

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


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profiles Thomas J. Dammrich, President, NMMA

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hom Dammrich has been furthers his involvement and com- Secretary), which he chairs, and the president of the Na- mitment to recreational boating by the Secretary of Commerce to tional Marine Manufactur- by serving on several industry the Industry Trade Advisory Comers Association since boards including the American mittee for Consumer Products. 1999, during which time he has Sportfishing Association, the RecPrior to taking the reins at the made significant contributions to reational Boating & Fishing FounNMMA Dammrich the organization was actively inand the industry. volved in managing The NMMA is the trade associations in largest trade associthe electronics and ation representing banking industries. manufacturers of His academic creboats, engines and dentials include an a wide range of MBA, an MS in acproducts for the counting, and a recreational boatbachelor’s degree ing market in the in economics. He is United States. The also a CPA and, as association currentone might suspect, ly has over 1,600 an avid boater. member compaWhen we asked nies that produce what accomplish80% of the recreaments he is most tional boats and proud of during his boating products tenure at the Assosold in North Amerciation he menica. Under his leadtioned his work in ership the NMMA helping to unite the has bolstered inindustry behind a dustry advocacy at A smiling Thom Dammrich on the floor of the Miami Interstrategy to increase the state and federal national Boat Show, one of many major boat shows the number of peolevels as well as exple who participate panded industry and around the country owned and operated by the NMMA. in recreational boatc o n s u m e r - r el at ed ing. The first official national addation; American Boat and Yacht research and statistics efforts. vertising and marketing campaign Council; the International Council Thom splits his time between the for the industry’s now well recogof Marine Industry Associations; NMMA headquarters office in Chinized “Grow Boating” Initiative the International Marine Certificacago, Illinois and their legislative appeared in 2006 and the protion Institute; and as chairman of office in Washington, DC, where gram is going strong today. the American Recreational Coalimuch of the associations lobbying tion. In addition, he was appoint- “The NMMA has roots dating back on behalf of their members is coned by the Secretary of the Interior 110 years,” Dammrich told me, ducted. Ever busy dealing with to serve on the Sport Fishing and “with its mission to act as advothe wide and varied interests of Boating Partnership Council (a cates for the recreational boating the boating industry Dammrich federal advisory committee to the industry while working to expand


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the market in the United States and abroad. During my 14 years as president the industry has faced plenty of challenges and weathered some difficult economic times. Through the strength and the willingness of the many good people who make up the Association it has remained a strong and effective advocate.” We have long known that recreational fishing has a significant impact on the boating industry in the U.S. and a direct effect on the thousands of jobs the industry creates. Dammrich agrees and has the statistics to back it up. “In our most recent statistical survey we found that upwards of 70% of the boats and boating equipment sold in the U.S. are used for fishing,” Thom said. “Fishing and the boating industry are inextricably joined at the hip. While I don’t have exact figures about the breakdown between freshwater and saltwater fishing I can tell you that in terms of units freshwater fishing boat sales are larger, but the boats and equipment used for saltwater fishing have a far greater cost per unit so we estimate that they have a comparable economic impact. There is no doubt that saltwater fishing is a major segment of the recreational boating industry and of great importance to our members.”

ing industry at all levels,” he said. “Fewer fishing opportunities mean fewer chances to use your boat and that impacts boat, motor, equipment and accessory use and sales. It impacts production, jobs, profitability and reduces the boating industry’s contribution to the national economy. That is the reason that the NMMA has a vested interest in the management of marine fisheries both for the present and the future. We fully support working towards building healthy, sustainable fisheries, but there has to be reasonable access for recreational fishing and that is what has been overlooked

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Thom admits that his background in business and association management is far stronger than his knowledge of marine fisheries, although he has been on something of a crash course to learn as much as possible in more recent years. “There are a lot of people who know a lot more about fisheries, fisheries law and the regulatory process than me,” he said. “Organizations like the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), the Center for Coastal Conservation (CCC), the American Sportfishing Associations (ASA) and others. But the recreational boating industry has a very big stake in the outcome and the NMMA has an important role to play.

The RFA was right, there’s no mistaking that,” he said, “and recreational fishermen and the industry are now fighting an uphill battle to insure recreational fisheries are managed better and differently in a reauthorized Magnuson.”

During our discussion we ventured into the subject of the 2007 reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Fisheries Conservation Act (MSA) and the over-regulation of saltwater fishing since it was signed into law. When I asked Thom about it he didn’t mince words. “When you reduce recreational access to fisheries it has a major negative effect on the recreational boat-

under current federal law and regulations.” When I mentioned that the RFA was way ahead of the curve during the run up to the 2007 reauthorization, predicting the problems that we are now experiencing if the industry associations did not fight back against the pressure being put on Congress by the environmental lobbyists and organizations like PEW and EDF he agreed. “The RFA was right, there’s no mistaking that,” he said, “and recreational fishermen and the industry are now fighting an uphill battle to insure recreational fisheries are managed better and differently in a reauthorized Magnuson.”

“I feel that role is to take a leadership position in helping to bring these organizations together at this critical time when Congress is debating making changes to the MSA so that we have a unified voice that represents the fishing public and the thousands of businesses large and small that depend on recreational fishing for their survival,” Dammrich continued. “I realize we have a strong opposition from environmental organizations pushing to maintain MSA in its current form and it’s always easier to play defense than it is to play offense in legislative battles. The NMMA has been up against similar odds before and won favorable outcomes. I think we can rally all the fishing organizations toward a consensus so we can bring a unified message to Congress that the law has to be fixed or the economic consequences will be considerable.” Dammrich has been a vocal supporter of the Recreational Fishing Alliance and recently committed the NMMA to providing financial support


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to help with the organization’s operating costs, something that is definitely welcome at a time when corporate donations have dwindled as a result of the economy and the impact of the overly restrictive regulations that are keeping fishermen off the water. In addition to financial support he brings the clout of the NMMA to bear on the important issues we face. Thom realizes that he wields a very big stick with the economic impact his industry has on overall US economy. “The recreational boating industry is unique in that 93% of the boats sold in the United States are actually built in the United States by American companies and an

American workforce,” he said with obvious pride. “When government regulations negatively

impact the public’s ability to fish or boat it has a direct effect on thousands of U.S. jobs and that is a strong message we bring to our representatives in Congress.”

www.FLOSCAN.com

With draft legislation to rewrite MSA already working its way through the committee process in the House having strong allies like Thom Dammrich and the NMMA working with us is of critical importance. The RFA has identified the key issues before us in Magnuson reform and most of the organizations are on the same page thanks to a new study funded by Johnny Morris (Bass Pro Shops) and Scott Deal (Maverick Boat Company). With Dammrich and others helping solidify the message to Congress there is a good chance we can make the substantive changes and improve recreational fishing access this year.


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RFA NATIONAL UPDATE

TWO ANGLER ADVOCATES ADDED By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.

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he Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) is pleased to announce that two East Coast angling representatives have just been added to the stable of RFA advocates fighting for your right in fish. In Massachusetts, Capt. Mike Pierdinock has been tabbed as the new Massachusetts state Chairman, while New Jersey surfcaster Greg O’Connell has been elevated to National Shore Access Representative. Both appointments were made effective as of March 1.

and shows throughout New England concerning shark physiology and behavior as well as the catch tag and release of sharks

cles in the On The Water magazine and other technical publications and is on the Pro Staff for Okuma, Mustad Hooks, and Savage Gear. He is also a member of the New England Fishery Management Council’s Enforcement Advisory Panel, and is a member of Stellwagen Bank Charter Boat Association’s Board of Directors, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council (Recreational Seat), Congressman Keating’s South Shore Fishery Task Force; and is a longtime member of the RFA.

Capt. Mike is very active in fisheries manCapt. Pierdinock has agement issues that been an avid angler impact our for-hire all of his life and has sector, and as a lifetime fished the Atlantic sportsman has proven and Pacific waters Capt. Mike Piedrdinock (l) with RFA Managing Director his dedication to from New England to Jim Hutchinson at a recent RFA event. sound, sustainable fishCentral America. He ing efforts within our is an experienced recreational community. Back in August of 2010, angler and Charter Boat Captain that has included footage of a 16 Mike and I got to know each other as on the vessel Perseverance -foot great white shark that the we were the only two recreational (www.cpfcharters.com) and has Perseverance team tagged in anglers invited to climb aboard the FV fished extensively throughout 2010. This rare encounter with Bulldog at the port of New Bedford, the Cape Cod Bay, Stellwagen the white shark has resulted in MA for an organized flotilla protest in Bank area and waters south of ongoing television, radio and the harbor at Martha’s Vineyard. newspaper interviews and apthe Cape. While RFA and commercial fishermen pearances. Pierdinock has made numerous don’t often see eye-to-eye on issues presentations at fishing seminars Mr. Pierdinock has authored arti- of allocation and gear use, when


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it comes to fixing the federal fisheries law and getting this administration to pay attention to our coastal needs, Pierdinock and RFA are the same page. This is a public access issue, open access if you will, that should bring industry and anglers together in a better balance of commerce and conservation. While the vacationing President Obama was too busy playing Scrabble and golf with his Chicago cronies to pay us any attention, the protest flotilla surely helped pave the way for new relationships; I know Mike is going to be a great representative for our Massachusetts fishermen! While Greg O’Connell is known to stick a few fluke aboard the local charter boats from time to time, his real passion is in the surf, which is where the RFA National Shore Access Representative has an important role in protecting access rights for surfcasters.

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gy Division at Casie Protank and mental in recent years in helping protect access for New Jersey surfPure Earth Inc. of Vineland, NJ. casters by protecting fishing areas A longtime member of the Merat Drag Island in southern New chantville Fishing Club in New Jersey along the back bay while Jersey, Greg spends as much of spearheading grassroots efforts to his free time as possible chasing preserve front side access to the fish in the surf from Sandy Hook Jersey Shore beaches. to Cape May, though he admits to have a special fondness for the A traveling angler himself, Greg beaches of Long Beach Island also finds time during the fishing season to fish the beaches of New York and can be found along the Outer Banks every spring and fall when the run kicks into high gear there. With so much wear and tear on the waders, Greg has the necessary tools required to take over the reins as the RFA’s National Shore Access Representative, and will have his hands full with helping protect and preserve angler access for ‘walk on’ and ‘buggy’ fishermen in the coming years.

RFA would also like to thank Patrick Paquette, Government Affairs chair of the A 1999 graduate of Massachusetts Striped Richard Stockton ColB as s As s o c i at i o n lege of New Jersey Greg O’Connell, an avid angler and who likes to keep (MSBA), for his dediwith a Bachelor of Sci- his feet planted in the sand, holds a degree in marine cated service to RFA ence degree in Marine science . He lives in Vineland, New Jersey and has been over the past several Science, Greg owns working toward improved surf access for anglers. This is years. A longtime rehis own environmensources advocate from tal consulting firm his first step onto the national stage as RFA’s Shore AcMassachusetts, Patrick called GO Environ- cess Representative. recently stepped away mental Inc, where he from RFA to pursue where he is also on the advisory conducts and oversees various more extensive advocacy roles on committee of the Long Beach Isphases of site investigations and behalf of forage species. “I want land Surf Fishing Classic. cleanups, mainly pertaining to to thank Patrick for all his hard leaking aboveground and under- Greg became directly involved in work and dedication over the ground storage tanks. Prior to RFA’s New Jersey chapter in an years working with our team,” starting his own consulting busi- ongoing effort to build stronger said RFA executive director Jim ness, Greg was senior project alliances within the surfcasting Donofrio. “I wish him well with all manager and head of the Geolo- community, and has been instru- his new endeavors.”


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RFA to Benefit from

BOAT FOR BOAT THE RICHEST MARLIN & TUNA TOURNAMENT IN THE WORLD!

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illfish tournaments don’t come any bigger than the MidAtlantic $500,000, the moniker the contest was given way back in 1992 when the first one was held in Cape May, New Jersey. Well promoters Rick Weber and Bob Glover of South Jersey Marina and the Canyon Club decided that it was long since past due to drop the $500,000 from the title.

be one of the top events in all of sportfishing. Known for its great fishing, unparalleled hospitality and camaraderie, the MidAtlantic is a must attend event for competitive billfish anglers. The fishing and fun are no longer limited to Cape May, which is the home base of the event, but a second port was added several years ago in Ocean City, MD, where Sunset Marina serves as OC tournament headquarters. Each port has rd The MidAtlantic will be celebrating its 23 year first class accommodations and offers distinct in 2014. The “Mother of All Marlin Tournaamenities for participants to enjoy. Both locaments” as its been called, has posted unprecetions have full weigh-ins which are visually dented prize money with a total purse of over linked by computer and simulcast to keep every$1,000,000 almost since its inception and it was one informed as the excitement happens. the first bona fide million dollar billfish tournament held anywhere in the world! The RFA and the Mega Marlin Raffle Going back some years one of the highlights of Over the years, the tournament has grown to


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the event was the charity Mega Marlin Raffle. Operated during the after-hours festivities under the dinner tents for boat owners, captains, crews and their families. The stage would be filled with amazing prizes while tickets were sold in grand amounts. The proceeds would always go to specific sportfishing related organizations. This year the Mega Marlin Raffle will be back in its full glory and the proceeds generated will be donated to a great organization that has done so much to keep us fishing—the Recreational Fishing Alliance. Bob Glover said, “We are planning to revive the stage full of prizes, the nightly drawings and all of the fanfare associated with the Mega Marlin Raffle as it was in the past. We are pleased to announce that The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) will be this year’s sole beneficiary of the proceeds, which in the past has reached into the tens of thousands of dollars.” “The RFA has been instrumental in fighting to protect our fishing rights,” Glover continued, “and their track record is amazing. While they work on issues related to all phases of recreational saltwater fishing, especially legislative issues in Washington, they have done so much to protect billfish through their work to rein in pelagic long lining while helping maintain recreational access to rebuilding billfish stocks. The white marlin fishing we have experienced in recent years has a lot to do with the work the RFA did dating over 10 years ago. We are proud to work with them and hope you will all join with us in making this year’s raffle the biggest ever to benefit the RFA.” The RFA will be working along with the promoters of the MidAtlantic to secure an amazing list of raffle prizes and we invite anyone interested in providing merchandise and services for the raffle to contact the RFA headquarter office. Donors will benefit from the exposure of their products to the thousands of people who will be in attendance at the tournament.

More prize money! More Ways to Win!

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in every way with “big dollar” prizes. We talked to numerous participants, past and present, and listened to their input and ideas and the overwhelming things we heard were; more ways to win, and the opportunity to compete for even bigger prize money. “Therefore, we are pleased to announce some changes regarding the entry and prize structure of the event for 2014 that we believe will preserve the character of the tournament while making it accessible to more competitors, give participants more ways to win, and make the payouts much more lucrative.” Here are the

highlights…  The entry fee has been reduced to $2,500 from $6,000. This is the requisite price for admission into the event and covers the costs for a crew of six for all functions, dinners, drinks, entertainment, etc. for the week. This essentially splits the hospitality and other tournament costs out from the prize money which will now be derived strictly from calcutta entries. This will give participants more options in how they wish to compete and not limit prize money by the amount of boats fishing.  There are now more choices available to enter for less cost. If you choose, you can participate and win cash prizes for as little as $4500.  On the opposite end, there are now more choices to compete for the biggest prize money. Naturally, the more you’re in, the more you win!  Two of the new calcuttas are Tuna oriented; The Tuna, Dolphin and Wahoo Calcutta and the Tuna Pro Jackpot. $5,500 of new Tuna Calcuttas mean big money tuna payouts!  New Blue Marlin Pro Jackpot Calcutta – Winner take all!  All of the Overall Calcuttas still have White Marlin, Blue Marlin and Tuna components.  Most importantly…The MidAtlantic will still be the same great event as always, only with more ways to win and bigger purses than ever before!

To learn more about the 23 rd MidAtlantic go to www.theMidAtlantic.com and check out just how much this event has to offer. If you’ve nev“There are some interesting additions being er been, there is nothing quite like it anywhere made to the MidAtlantic for 2014,” Glover told us. “It has always been our goal to offer compet- on the East Coast. You can also call 609 -884itive anglers an exclusive event that is first class 2400 and ask for Bob Glover.


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What to do About Striped Bass? By John DePersenaire RFA Policy & Science Researcher The debate over the future management of Atlantic striped bass will begin this summer with the first public comment period. DePersenaire lays out the backdrop upon which the debate should be conducted.

I

t goes without saying that Atlantic striped bass holds a special place in the collective heart of the recreational fishing community. Fishermen around to experience the bottom fall out of the stock in the early 1980’s rightly and justly took ownership of the rebuilding success realized when the striped bass stock reached a record high level of abundance some 20 years later.

any other fishery.

cessful fisheries management. Though not bound by the rigid Now in 2014, it would appear rebuilding requirements of the that alarm bells are ringing again Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conwith many saltwater anglers servation and Management Act along the striper coast, with which dictates how federally some claiming the wake-up call managed species must be rebuilt, d r a s t i c measures were implemented in the fishery to spur rebuilding including regulations to prevent directed fishing on 95% of the While striped f e m a l e bass and cod striped bass possibly share from the the top posi1982 year tions in terms class which of marine fisheffect i vel y eries that resulted in a played an incomplete fluential role Striped bass are the most popular gamefish in the Mid-Atlantic and Northmoratoriin shaping the east and there is great concern among anglers that the stocks are facing um. history of our tough times unless actions are taken soon. The debate begins this summer. nation, it can At the time be argued that recreational fish- needs to be sounded on striper that Amendment 3 to the striped ermen not only exhibited an in- stock now plummeting toward bass fishery management plan tense commitment to bring this the dark days of the 1980’s. was passed through the Atlantic truly American fish back to susStates Marine Fisheries Commistainable levels, but also played a THE FACE OF SUCCESS sion (ASMFC) in 1985, the spawnpivotal role in terms of self- Striped bass has often been the ing stock biomass was estimated regulation on a level not seen in hailed at the poster child for suc- to be about 10 million pounds.


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In light of the desired condition of the stock, most fishermen supported the extreme measures to ensure a future striped bass fishery. The measures would remain in place through 1989 when Amendment 4 was passed to provide a limited reopening of the fishery in the early stages of recovery. Fast forward 20 years, the striped bass spawning biomass peaked at 175 million pounds representing a 1,650% increase in biomass – that’s right one-thousand, sixhundred and fifty percent more striped bass were in the stock in 2010 than in 1990!

MONITORING EFFORTS Like many other fisheries, transitioning from rebuilding a stock to managing one that’s healthy and rebuilt can prove to be a challeng-

ing endeavor. Subsequent amendments to the striped bass management plan put in place monitoring protocols which primarily consisted of standardized annual sampling of young of the year (YOY) striped bass at fixed points in estuaries. By analyzing the trends associated with these general indices of abundance, scientists can project how year classes will recruit into the fishery and ultimately, how those year classes will impact overall abundance. Striped bass happens to be one of the best monitored fisheries on the Atlantic Coast; and beginning in 2005 - which marked the first year of a multi-year trend of below average recruitment - fisheries managers and scientists began predicting a looming dip in the striped bass spawning stock biomass. If you are thinking that a finger should

be pointed at someone or some managing agency for failing to cut harvest back in 2005, realize that this decline in striped bass not necessarily the result of fishing but is largely due to environmental factors that ultimately influence natural mortality, survivorship and recruitment. Being an anadromous species that lives its adult life in saltwater but spawns in freshwater, water quality, environmental conditions and habitat play a huge role in the stock recruitment relationship for striped bass. The significant influence of these factors is evident by the gradual decline of striped bass abundance and below average recruitment over the past 8 years, despite both harvest and fishing mortality decreases over the same time period. (Continued on page 24)


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NOT OVERFISHED, NO OVERFISHING In December 2013, the striped bass benchmark assessment was released which found that the striped bass was not overfished nor was overfishing occurring based on the most recent data from 2012. However, the assessment also indicated that the female spawning stock biomass was below the spawning stock biomass target of 159 million pounds, although still just above the spawning stock biomass threshold. Keep in mind that any dip below the threshold would require mandatory regulatory action as mandated by Amendment 6 of the plan. Projections produced by the assessment indicate that if no action is taken now, that there is a high probability that the stock will dip

Making Waves |

below the biomass threshold and therefore get tabbed with the ‘overfished’ designation. Of course, the stock is not on a precipitous decline, particularly given that projections also predict the stock will begin to rebound by 2017. The current estimates put the spawning stock biomass at 128 million pounds, yet when compared to the low of 1983 of 10 million pounds, it becomes clear that the current situation is far from the near collapse in the 1980’s - especially when you consider that a federal moratorium on Atlantic striped bass harvest outside of the 3 miles from shore in what is called the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) has been in place since 1990. Remember that these EEZ restrictions were not in place during

Spring 2014

the precipitous decline of striped bass in the 1980’s, and while there are a handful of fishermen who would like to see this federal restriction loosened, the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) remains staunchly opposed to any such efforts, even in the form of catch and release.

PUBLIC COMMENT TO BEGIN IN MAY In response to the findings to the 2013 assessment, the ASMFC is now moving forward with an addendum to the striped bass fishery management plan which would establish new fishing mortality reference points for the coastal, Chesapeake Bay and Albemarle/ Roanoke Sound stocks of striped bass. The addendum will also include a range of management measures aimed at reducing both commercial and recreational fish-

While many anglers release most if not all of the striped bass they catch, there is great concern that we have been killing far too many large breeders over the past 8 years and some hard decisions are going to have to be made to reduce the mortality on the spawning stock.


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ing mortality. ASMFC expects the addendum to be released for public comment in May of 2014 with final implementation set for January of 2015. As the recreational fishing community engages this management challenge with striped bass, it is important to remember that fluctuations in stock size are to be expected with rebuilt fisheries. While some management response is likely and appropriate, the striped bass stock is far from the level it was in the 1980’s, nor is the stock on a trajectory to collapse. And unlike the 80’s crash, there’s also that federal protection outside of 3 miles, enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard. Anglers need to remember that it is illegal to even target striped bass in the EEZ, that means even catch and release (which of course carries a mortality rate.)

It is likely that moderate adjustments to striped bass management will allow the stock to emerge from this downturn sooner than 2017 as predicted by the assessment if no action is taken. Managers are looking at a particularly healthy 2011 year class of striped bass as perhaps providing a boost of recruitment to come; an exceptionally cold, snowy winter in 2013/2014 is something many scientists hope will lead to an even brighter future on this iconic species. Striped bass will continue to be a challenge to manage due to environmental conditions. Moreover, the primary producer area for the coastal migratory stock of striped bass, the Chesapeake Bay, continues to be a focus for water quality improvements and determining the cause and possible remedy for

mycobacterium which is expected to afflict over 50% of striped bass in the Bay.

True, a few alarm bells may be ringing right now; and while hitting the snooze button certainly isn’t an option, neither is running out into the street in nothing but a nightshirt! Fortunately, managers have the ability to address this temporary downturn in the stock by working closely with the recreational community to develop a management response that represents the best approach for the striped bass resource and the fishermen that are so passionate about this species.


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When he isn’t busy taking care of RFA business he can sometimes be found catching dinner.,

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Environmentalism and the Decline of the West By Walter Starck, Quadrant Magazine (May 17, 2012)

The following article was penned by independent marine scientist Walter Starck in Quadrant Magazine just two months after the second national Keep Fishermen Fishing rally in Washington DC. With over 50 years worldwide experience in marine research and technology development, Mr. Starck grew up on an island in the Florida Keys and began fishing and diving in early childhood. He received a PhD in Marine Science in 1964 at the University of Miami, Florida. In 1972 he arrived in Australia on his own 100 ton research vessel before boat people became unfashionable and he has lived in north Queensland since 1978. In recent years Mr. Starck has written and spoken extensively on marine resource management issues and has been highly critical of misguided environmentalism, the proliferation of bureaucracy and the corruption of science by eco-salvation ideology. His views on environmental matters have been influenced by extensive direct experience and are often not in accord with institutional based researchers informed by theory and computer models. Quadrant Magazine is the leading general intellectual journal of ideas, literature, poetry and historical and political debate published in Australia. In recent years, Pew Environment Group and Pew Charitable Trust has been spearheading anti-fishing efforts in Australia and New South Wales in the form of 'no access' marine reserves; the Recreational Fishing Alliance of New South Wales (RFA) was established in 2000 in an effort to counter-attack these efforts. Visit www.rfansw.com.au.

“The freedom to fish has been transformed into privatized, corporatized, tradable rights accompanied by blizzards of paperwork”

F

or many urbanites in particular the environment has acquired a romantic, somewhat sacred, status. Though themselves voracious consumers, they are removed from the production that supplies their demands.

that is an increasing impediment to any productive activity.

All this has grown over time into a vast interrelated morass of problems which will require fundamental changes in governance to correct. Most of the leading Western Nations are now Simply more tweaking of the existing structure experiencing aging populations, declining in- will only add to the problems. Correcting them dustries, chronic trade imbalances, bloated gov- demands more radical treatment. ernment, punitive taxation, high levels of personal debt, unsustainable government deficits This probably can’t happen until the existing and a rapidly metastasizing regulatory regime structure has collapsed; however, such time ap-


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pears closer every day. A wave of sovereign defaults followed by a severe global economic depression seems virtually assured by rapidly compounding debt which is now reaching levels which only an improbably miraculous recovery could overcome.

Some Direct Damages of Misguided Environmentalism

When the time does arrive that real reform becomes possible it will be important to understand how we got ourselves into such a mess in order to decide what to do to get out of it. Too much government is obviously a core problem. Imposing more clearly defined limits on what we expect of it plus more secure limits on what it may legitimately do is going to be important.

Destruction of millions of Ha of rainforest to grow biofuels for an immeasurably trivial reduction in CO2 emissions.

In addition to setting new limits on government it will also be important to more clearly recognize the social and behavioral forces which have driven government in the direction it has taken. Without such understanding there is a high risk of starting afresh at considerable pain only to repeat the same kind of mistakes and end up in a similar situation again. A major contributor to our current societal malaise has been a tendency to moral crusades which have only exacerbated the problems they were intended to fix while generating an ongoing residue of collateral damage, unintended consequences, bureaucracy and repression. Over the past century major initiatives of this nature have included prohibition, the war on drugs, the war on terror and repeated efforts to impose or repress various political ideologies. Although all these efforts have inflicted great suffering and socio-economic damage, probably none have resulted in such ongoing, widespread and ever increasing detriment as has environmentalism. While the benefits of cleaner air and water have been apparent and undeniable, the damage inflicted by misguided environmentalism has been largely unrecognized even though massively extensive and deleterious to human wellbeing.

Tens of millions of deaths and debilitating infections by malaria which could have been prevented by indoor use of DDT with minimal environmental impact.

It has been estimated that as many as 20 million people have been robbed of their lands and forced into poverty as conservations refugees. After millennia of harmonious co-existence with their natural environment they have been driven out to “protect� it. Even in developed countries multitudes of honest, productive families of small farmers, stockmen and fishermen have also been stripped of a long standing sustainable livelihood to pander to the uninformed notions of green urbanites. In recent years significant increases in food prices have resulted from large areas of land being removed from food production in order to grow uneconomic subsidized biofuels. In addition food production has suffered from reductions in water rights, prohibition of native vegetation clearance, expansion of parks along with myriad environmental restrictions and demands that reduce productivity or increase cost with little or no actual environmental benefit. A further direct consequence has been an increase in malnutrition, especially in underdeveloped countries dependent on staple food imports. This affects tens of millions of people and the trend is getting worse not better.

One of the more serious effects of misguided environmentalism has also been the corruption of science. This is resulting in a marked dulling of our most effective tool for informed decision making at a time when it is needed more than ever to deal with an increasingly complex world. In the environmental sciences repeated exposures of junk science and concerted scientific misconduct along with exaggerated predicThis damage has included direct impacts and tions which fail their reality test have damaged benefits prevented as well as the more indirect public trust in all science. Lavish funding for effects of repression and loss of freedom and agenda driven junk science has also resulted in opportunity: a virtual abandonment of sound basic research


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in favor of research aimed at promoting the ex- There is strong indication that increased seafood conistence of purported threats. sumption in most Western nations could save billions of dollars annually in health care costs along with a Benefits Denied through Environmentalism greatly improved quality of life for tens of millions of Ignorance and ill-founded fears about genetical- people. Although globally there is limited potential for ly modified crops has prevented their introduc- further increasing production in wild caught fisheries, tion in many places. While reasonable prudence there is great potential for expanded aquaculture. The is warranted in the adoption of this powerful only real impediment is misguided environmentalism. technology, its blanket prohibition is unwarranted by extensive experience as well as our best Repression and loss of freedom and opportunity scientific understanding. The benefits of in- imposed by environmentalism creased production, disease resistance, and nu- Hunting, fishing and camping for recreational and tritional improvements as well as the reduced food supplementation purposes have long been use of fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides are healthy activities open to people of all ages and social huge. They amount to hundreds of billions of classes. Over the past few decades, however, increasdollars per year in addition to more and better ingly harsh, restrictive, complex and costly regulations food for billions of people. enacted under the banner of environmental management have taken much of the fun as well as the afUnbelievably the GMO hysteria has extended fordability out of these activities. even to the rejection of food aid in a famine in Africa because of concerns about it possibly Strong property rights have been a core element of containing GM material. Apparently the eco- long standing in the development of Western democlogic is that it is better to starve than to risk an racies. A person’s home has been their castle and priundefined possibility of some unhealthy effect vate property was indeed private. However, that is from eating GM food which is consumed by now history. The new eco-fascism is busy imposing hundreds of millions of people elsewhere with myriad restrictions and demands regarding what one no adverse consequences known. can, cannot and must do on one’s own land. Land ownership is becoming more a matter of onerous, The energy from fossil fuels is the very foundation of ever increasing and arbitrary obligations than of any modern society and its rising cost is now having a secure rights. Land holding is effectually in the prodamaging economic impact on all developed econo- cess of being transformed into a new form of serfdom mies. Despite its vital importance, however, increasing with the state as the true owner and the liege lord to imposts, restrictions and liabilities have become a ma- whom all obligations must be paid and permissions jor impediment to production. It appears probable sought. that we are headed for a severe energy crisis including some nations with large natural reserves such as For millennia fishermen were among the freest of the U.S. and Australia. Certainly the increasing cost of people, the industry was open to anyone and the energy is already having a significant negative impact price of entry was only time and effort. The ideal of on the prosperity of millions of people even in the fisheries management was to maximize the sustainamost prosperous nations. ble yield. Then came the development of academically trained office based eco-management conducted by Although aquaculture has been highly successful in experts in theoretical ideas about things they have producing affordable high quality animal protein with never seen and about which little is actually known. minimal environmental detriment it has also become Management claims have expanded to include the subject to increasing restrictions, prohibitions and entire marine ecosystem with a focus on the maintecosts imposed on the basis of ill-founded environmen- nance of species diversity and community resiliency tal concerns. At the same time recent large scale clini- while protecting from an endless array of possible cal and epidemiological studies have found strong threats, all with an eye to erring on the side of precaucorrelation between increased seafood consumption tion. The favorite tool has become the computer modand significant health benefits. These encompass a el which can be readily adjusted to provide any debroad spectrum of major disorders including cardio- sired result, lends an aura of high tech certainty and is vascular diseases, a variety of immune related disor- safely inaccessible to independent examination. The ders and neurological development and functioning. freedom to fish has been transformed into privatized,


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corporatized, tradable rights accompanied by blizzards of paperwork. The result has been a declining industry with ageing participants and no new generation coming on to replace them. The rights to the most valuable fisheries are all becoming the private property of corporations and investors to be fished by struggling share croppers who bear all the risk and effort but enjoy only a minority of the profit.

The inverse relation of environmentalism and productivity While concern for the environment has unquestionably resulted in valuable benefits from pollution reduction, preservation of nature and more sustainable utilization of natural resources; it has also spawned the development of environmentalism as a malignant ideological offshoot with far less benign consequences. Environmentalism has become both a powerful political lever putting dangerous power in the hands of ignorance as well as a convenient cloak for sundry hidden agendas. That it has cost tens of millions of lives, hundreds of billions of dollars and had significant impacts on health, prosperity, freedom and enjoyment of life over much of the world is all too real even if still largely unrecognized. In most developed nations a large majority of the population now dwell in cities and only a minority toil to produce the goods and services which support us all. For many urbanites in particular the environment has acquired a romantic, somewhat sacred, status. Though themselves voracious consumers, they are removed from the production that supplies their demands. Those who provide their needs tend to be seen as greedy exploiters and defilers of nature. Even more ironically, their own lifestyle has virtually annihilated the natural world in a small portion of the environment and that is where they choose to live.

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sundry other agendas. For the politicians it affords a cheap shop at green votes. For activists it’s campaigns that attract public attention and donations. For bureaucrats it’s increased authority and budgets. For academics it’s grants and recognition. For the media it’s the attention grabbing drama of threats and conflicts. Like every effective propaganda machine environmentalism has created its own special terms of emotional index designed to trigger reflexive notions of good and evil. Terms such as sustainable, biodiversity, ecosystem-based management, ecologically sustainable development, modeled, precautionary, overexploited, threatened, endangered, deniers and even the very words environment and ecology have been co-opted and associated with desired connotations to serve as buzz words. A peculiar adjunct of all this has been the enshrinement of an imaginary precautionary principle concocted to mandate that any suggestion of a detrimental environmental effect must be addressed with full measures to prevent it. Its formulation makes no reference to probability, cost, or risks and it offers a ready cloak for sundry other agendas. Logically it would even preclude itself as everything we do or don’t do entails risk, including precautionary measures themselves. Amazingly, this vacuous and pernicious piece of nonsense has even been written into the enabling legislation of various government agencies charged with various facets of environmental management.

To make matters worse, environmentalism has also become heavily infected with the intellectual malignancy of political correctness wherein certain attitudes, beliefs and perspectives are deemed to be so unarguably true and proper as to be beyond any questioning or critical examination. To attempt to do Environmental delusions and deceptions so is not simply to be mistaken. It is evidence of moral The reality of a constant struggle for survival in a dy- degeneration and wilful evil. namic, ever changing, often harsh natural world has been replaced by a romantic notion of nature in a This then brings us to the mother of all environmental blissful state of harmony and balance, something threats, Anthropogenic Global Warming (a.k.a. Clipure and perfect where any detectable human influ- mate Change). AGW has been the eco-savior’s ultience is by definition a desecration. This sacred per- mate wet dream. In the short term it has afforded spective of the environment manifests itself in lan- healthy portions of fame, fortune, authority and great guage where fragile and delicate become almost righteousness. Further along it promises to save the mandatory adjectives in describing the natural world. world, punish unbelievers and bring about a fair, harmonious, balanced, sustainable restoration of Eden. An unholy coalition of politicians, activists, bureau- The fact that all such dreams of ideal societies have crats, academics, and the media have found it profita- had a 100% track record of failure is not even a conble to feed into and use the urban eco-delusions for sideration. To the faithful every time, this time is al-


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ways different and each time the believers are certain they “know” the truth and surely couldn’t be wrong because it is confirmed by all their fellow believers and politically correct as well.

to admit any error, a delusion may continue until mortality removes them or followers may simply fade away over time leaving only an empty shell of fossilized fanatics.

Ecology is above all holistic

The climate change delusion is now in its terminal battle with reality. The proclamations of the alarmists are growing more and more unhinged from the actual climate in which we exist. Increasingly costly and restricted energy supplies are having growing impact on people’s lives. Green energy has failed miserably to deliver cheap, adequate and reliable power or to result in any meaningful reduction in CO2 emissions. It exists only because of subsidies which render it an indulgence we can no longer afford. Then, to top everything off, the science on which all the claims have been based has been repeatedly exposed as corrupted by incompetence, inappropriate methods, unexplained adjustments to data, cherry picking of evidence, exaggeration, suppressing or ignoring conflicting findings and even outright fraud.

Every organism must have effects in order to exist. We are no exception. Aiming to maximize our beneficial effects and minimize our detrimental ones requires trade-offs and adjustments whereby we seek to spread our impacts across our whole resource base within the bounds of sustainability. Every resource we lock up puts more pressure on others and makes genuine sustainability more difficult. An unnecessary restriction in one place becomes an increased impact somewhere else.

The reality of natural ecosystems is that they are far less delicate, fragile and balanced than is popularly imagined. They are in fact much more robust, dynamic and fluctuating with every organism impacting on others. Like all species the effect of our own can be either harmful or beneficial depending upon whether the net result is to decrease or to enhance the diversi- Where to from here The threat of catastrophic climate change has ty, abundance and condition of life. almost certainly been greatly exaggerated and Environmentalism tends to view every acci- the net effect of increased CO2 in the atmosdental condition of nature as manifesting some phere is much more likely to be beneficial than beneficent balance but any evidence of a hu- harmful. A growing majority of the public now man influence as an unnatural impact. This per- reject the alarmism. After it collapses, or just spective is baseless, irrational and is itself unnat- withers away to irrelevance, we will be left with ural. Our species like all the others is a natural a need to better understand how the science result of the evolution of life on this planet. Our became so corrupted. rather sudden and amazing success after such a long, hard and often doubtful struggle is some- There are several aspects in this regard about thing to marvel about and be grateful for, not which we should begin thinking: The current system of peer review is overrated something to be disparaged. and corrupt. The Internet makes possible a much more widely based, open and transApproaching the end times parent approach. Unfortunately mass delusions with moralistic overtones have a way of continuing well beyond the point where they have departed from Scientific training and practice is lacking in a clear understanding and implementation of any relation to reality. Deep commitment, presthe philosophy and ethics of science. sure to conform and suppression of dissent may maintain them for some time even when their failure has become painfully obvious. If a pow- Government funding of research has become dominated by political agendas wherein erful and respected leader finally dares to admit support is awarded in accord with the prothat serious problems exist, followers are then duction of desired findings. free to admit reality and the seemingly invulnerable bubble of delusion may abruptly collapse. The collapse of the communism is a prime exam- Researchers, managers and activists in the environmental area have learned to manufacple. However, if leaders have too much to lose


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ture hypothetical threats to obtain funding. With the precautionary principle no demonstrable problem is required, only the suggestion of a possible one.

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do try to go ahead or who are already committed the eco-demands result in marginal profitability. This trend is getting worse, not better, and it is already having a significant impact on national prosperity. For multinational compaA properly structured and resourced science nies it just means squeezing out what profit court is needed to evaluate important scien- they can from their investment and diverting tific claims and disputes before public polfuture expansion elsewhere. For increasing cies are based on them. numbers of domestic businesses already at the margin of profitability it simply means closing Unfortunately the corruption is not restricted to down. science itself. Junk science is now being widely indoctrinated throughout the educational sys- Moral crusades have a repeated history of imtem. Instead of teaching students how to recog- posing pain and ending in grief. There is nothnize and evaluate such malignant righteous- ing to indicate this one is any different. It’s time ness, they are being presented it as unquestion- to recognize it for what it is, consign it to the able truth. rubbish bin of history and begin thinking about how to undo the damage.. In developed nations virtually all productive activity now faces a morass of environmental regulations imposed through a multitude of different government bodies. The difficulties, delays, costs and uncertainties are having a major impact. More and more businesses are giving up altogether or moving offshore. For many who


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

New England Update Capt. Mike Pierdinock, RFA-MA Chapter Capt. Barry Gibson, NE Regional Director Capt. Mike Pierdinock provided us with a summary of fishery related battles that we are addressing . Those are followed by additional updates by Capt. Barry Gibson.

Stellwagen Bank Designated Habitat Research Area (“DHRA”)

farther off shore that will not impact us. Closing this area to recreational fishing will put the charter boat/head boat fleet out of business and have a detrimental impact on the marinas, tackle shops, restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, etc. and/or all of those that rely on this industry. We had hoped to stop the DHRA in it “tracks” but the proposed DHRA will be subject to public comment the next several months with a vote by the NEFMC in September

The New England Fishery Management Council (“NEFMC”) recently had public hearings associated with the proposed DHRA at Stellwagen Bank. I attended and provided comments associated with the proposed DHRA at the NEFMC Recreational Advisory Panel (“RAP”) meeting as well as the quarterly NEFMC meeting. Barry Gibson is the Chairman of the NEFMC RAP. He provided testimony at the quarterly meeting associated with the DHRA and cod and haddock quotas for 2014. Fifty five square miles of prime fishing grounds are proposed to be closed to charter boat/head boat and recreational anglers to bottom fishing for cod/pollack/haddock. The Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (“SBNMS”) has proposed to close this area and conduct habitat research. The proposed DHRA is within an area known as the “Sliver” that has been closed to bottom draggers and/or commercial fishing for the past several years. The constant fishing pressure by the large commercial draggers has made the population of cod go from sustainable levels in 2010 to at the point of collapse in 2013. This is one of the last areas that we can rely upon to catch cod and bottom fish since the large commercial draggers or commercial fishing is prohibited within this area. Until the flawed catch share system is addressed to prevent the constant fishing of an area by the large commercial draggers the population of cod and other bottom fish will not recover. There are other suitable locations that can be selected for research

Cod and haddock are the lifeblood of the for-hire fishing fleet in New England. With another blow the entire industry could collapse.


Page 36 2014. We will continue to attend the hearings and provide public comment. Once the NEFMC public comment period opens for the latest version of the DHRA we will provide the membership a form letter to send to the NEFMC in opposition to the proposed closure.

Cod and Haddock Quotas for 2014 At the recent NEMFC RAP and NEFMC quarterly meetings I attended and provided comments associated with the proposed cod and haddock quota for 2014. The cod and haddock landings in 2013 by the “private boat” or recreational anglers were significantly higher than ever reported that well exceeded the cod and haddock landed by the charter boat and head boat fleet. In total the cod and haddock landed well exceeded the quota for 2013. We have significant concerns associated with the validity of the recreational statistics reported, “the data just doesn’t make sense, something is wrong with the data.” The NEFMC RAP voiced their concerns over the validity of the data. Close to 30% of the haddock landed were not of legal size that would not have normally been reported. If you back out the illegally landing of haddock the quota is not far from being on target. The landing of sublegal size had-

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dock may have more to do with the pubic being unaware of the increase in the size of legally landed haddock in 2013 from 18 to 21 inches. Hopefully an additional public outreach effort to inform the public of the change in the size of legal haddock as well as enforcement can result in a reduction. The recreational landing information is generated by dockside and telephone interviews. The interview process is new and the statically model used to assess the population has changed. A combination of both may be the reason for the unusual numbers. The NEFMC has proposed to close haddock fishing for the months of March and April in 2014 and not open cod fishing until May 1st of 2014. In addition, size limits may change in the range of 21 to 23 inches for both cod and haddock. These measures are an attempt to have the least impact on the charter boat/head boat and recreational anglers to address the excess landings in 2013. The proposed changes will be subject to public comment to the NEFMC the next few months that we will follow and comment on accordingly. We hope that the interview process will be addressed to provide valid data for the statistical


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evaluation of the status of the cod and haddock in order to use “good science” to make fishery management decisions.

Changes to Massachusetts Commercial Striped Bass Regulations

place a Massachusetts provided tag on each striped bass at the place of primary purchase and remain affixed during transport; sale or resale until all fillets are sold. 

A DMF striped bass endorsement and/or permit is required to commercially land striped bass in the Commonwealth. Individuals who received a striped bass endorsement after September 8, 2013 may be restricted from participating in the 2014 commercial striped bass season or may be subject to different eligibility requirements than those who held an endorsement prior to this date. The application and renewal date for the 2014 commercial striped bass season is March 15, 2014. Future access may be based upon historic landings of a vessel or person. Detailed criteria for future access is yet to be established by the DMF.

These measures are an attempt to provide the anglers south and north of the Cape the opportunity to participate in the landing that previously would not have been possible with a shortened season. For instance the commercial fisherman historically south of the Cape could not take advantage of the early arrival of the stripers in their waters south of the Cape prior to July

A number of changes to the commercial striped bass season in Massachusetts were recently implemented by the Division of Marine Fisheries (“DMF”). A summary of changes is listed below. 

The commercial striped bass season will open June 23rd instead of typically after the fourth of July.

Commercial landings are limited to Mondays and Thursdays only and no longer includes fishing on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

There is a 15 striped bass per day limit (> 34 inches) to fishermen with a commercial lobster permit or a boat permit with striped bass endorsement and no longer includes a 30 fish per day limit.

There is a two striped bass per day limit (> 34 inches) to fishermen issued a commercial individual or rod & reel permit with a striped bass endorsement.

Licensed commercial seafood dealers are required to

AVAILABLE AT WEST MARINE AND OTHER RETAILERS


Page 38 that will no longer be the case with the season opening June 23rd. The extended season with fewer available days to fish per week is an attempt to reduce pulsed fishing pressure in a select areas that was previously the case (ex. Chatham) due to a more condensed season. In addition, the price of striped bass per pound should hopefully increase due to the reduced number of fish landed per day and per week. Additional details concerning the proposed changes can be found at http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dmf/

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countless species of fish, birds and mammals. Maine, and to a lesser extent South Carolina, are the only East Coast states that allow an elver fishery. Recent studies have indicated that the American eel stock is at a historically low level due to a combination of overfishing, habitat loss, predation, mortality in turbines in rivers, and water quality problems. In response, ASMFC wants to step up protection and is considering a complete shutdown of elver fishing coast-wide, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is even considering listing eels as a threatened or endangered species.

Maine’s elver fishery, however, was worth a staggering $38 million in 2012, when elvers fetched nearly $2,000 per pound on average. The state is being allowed to conduct its fishery in 2014, but the 35% cutback is mandated. This year, Maine will issue Individual Fishing Quotas, or IFQs, to fishermen based on the number of pounds on average they have caught in recent years. This system, along with a “swipe card” program for electronically keeping track of the pounds of eels being purchased by dealers from each fisherman, is inStriped bass are the most sought after inshore gamefish in New England. tended to reduce poaching and misreThe commercial rod and reel fishery exists, but is under scrutiny as the porting, which have been problems in new regulations attest. the past. The overall state quota is targeted to drop from the 18,253 pounds caught last RFA Watching Maine’s 2014 Elver Fishery year to 11,749 pounds this season. Maine’s lucrative elver or “glass eel” fishery, in which thousands of pounds of tiny, juvenile American eels One hurdle the state will have to overcome before are netted and shipped alive to Asia each spring this season’s fishery opens, scheduled for March 22, is where they are raised for human consumption, is facsome sort of agreement with the Passamaquoddy Ining a 35% cutback for 2014, imposed by the Atlantic dian tribe. Disagreements as to the number of licensStates Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). es to be issued to Passamaquoddy fishermen and whether individual IFQs or an overall tribal quota will be implemented, have not been resolved as of this The tiny eels, measuring 2” to 3.5”, are spawned in the Sargasso Sea east of the Bahamas, and make their writing and could delay the start of the season. way back to the mainland in North, South, and CenThe RFA will be watching the Maine elver fishery very tral America to ascend streams and rivers, and then closely this season. We testified at the public hearing enter fresh water ponds and lakes where they grow held last March that we were in favor of a greatly reto adulthood. Eels are an important forage base for duced overall catch, stepped-up enforcement and


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compliance, and a quota-driven management system. We do not want to see a threatened or endangered species listing, as this would eliminate all eel harvesting, including the bait-eel market which is important to recreational striped bass fishermen and of economic benefit to bait dealers and tackle shop owners. –

dollar amount. We feel this would fairly compensate those actually in the groundfish charter business, and would include part-time operators.

Whether or not NMFS, or the New England states (which will also likely have a say in how the money is distributed) will accept our proposal remains to be seen. And, those Capt. Barry Gibson, RFA New England Regional Direcwho wish to submit alternate proposals to NMFS and/or tor the states are perfectly free to do so. The bottom line is that RFA believes strongly that the forhire sector has every right to be included in the dispersal of these federal relief funds, and that NMFS and the states New England’s commercial groundfish industry has been have a corresponding responsibility to make sure we are. declared an “economic disaster” due to years of overfishing, We will continue to be engaged in the process, which may restrictive measures imposed by the new “Catch Shares” take several more months, and will report back to RFA management system put in place several years back, and a members when final decisions are made. –Capt. Barry Gibgeneral lack of available fish to catch. son, RFA New England Regional Director

RFA Working With NMFS to Gain Financial Relief for For-Hire Groundfish Vessels

New England’s congressional delegation has been pushing ———————————————–—————————————–———for financial aid to the beleaguered industry for the past year, and finally Congress directed $75M to go towards helping mitigate “fisheries disasters” in six regions of the Capt. Tom Adams U.S., ranging from Alaska all the way around to New EngRFA-Forgotten Coast Chapter land. New England’s share is $33M. In a recent Panama City News Herald opinion piece (which can be found at http://www.newsherald.com/opinions/ The big question now is: How, and to whom, will this monletters-to-the-editor/florida-needs-year-round-access-to-fishey be distributed? The National Marine Fisheries Service’s 1.278136), Florida commercial fisherman Billy Archer called Northeast Regional Administrator in Gloucester, John out RFA member Pam Anderson of Capt. Anderson’s MariBullard, convened a meeting of his Groundfish Economic st na in Panama City Beach, FL for her ardent opposition to Coordinating Committee (on which I serve) on January 31 sector separation and catch shares. and asked for industry input on allocating the funds to both the commercial and for-hire sectors. New England’s party and charter fleet has suffered from the same problems that One would think that the concept of splitting the recreahave plagued the commercial fleet, with the result that the tional sector into two sub-sectors, the private angler and the for-hire, would have no impact on commercial fishernumber of charter trips, and corresponding income, have men in the Gulf of Mexico. The RFA has long argued that dropped significantly. commercial interests and recreational turncoats were attempting to use sector separation as a lead-in to privatized In response, I worked with several groundfish charter oper‘fish tags’ using the catch shares model, but showroom enators to come up with a formula based on groundfish Vesvironmentalists have been actively painting ‘tinfoil hats’ onsel Trip Reports (VTRs). The suggested program we develto our criticisms to infer that our arguments are little more oped is patterned after the process used back in 2010, than conspiracy theories. when $13M was made available to Massachusetts groundfish fishermen, with $340,000 going to the for-hire sector. In reading some of the opinion pieces of some national publications in recent years, and in conversations with Basically, the formula average the number of groundfish some of the more progressive members of Congress, it VTRs submitted over the past three years where at least seems as if the environmentalist agenda has been successone fish within the regulated large-mesh multispecies comful. Yet commercial fishermen continue to open themselves plex (i.e. cod, haddock, pollock, hake) was recorded as landup to the ideological agenda by penning columns in reed. That number of VTRs would be multiplied by a specific gional newspapers, peeling the skin away from the hidden

RFA-FL


Page 40 truth – this is not a conspiracy, but a full-blown and open attack against the recreational fishing community. As per the Panama City News Herald, Archer “carries recreational charter tours and also fishes commercially in the offseason.” That means he’s a dual-permit holder. Archer’s name may be familiar to some in the Gulf region, the owner/operator of the F/V Seminole Wind, he was charged by NOAA Fisheries some years back for allegedly exceeding the bag and possession limit for red snapper and filleting fish at sea. NOAA Fisheries also charged Capt. Archer with allegedly made false statements to officers concerning his fishing activities which resulted in a proposed penalty of $2,500 being added to the base assessment of $5,500 plus a 45-day permit sanction. Capt. Archer is a member of the Charter Fishermen’s Association, as well as the National Association of Charterboat Operators (NACO), but as a registered owner of commercial IFQ (individual fishing quota), his support of Amendment 40 and Sector Separation initiatives at the Gulf Council should be cause for concern to private anglers and for-hire captains alike.

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Capt. Archer’s new ideological vision of the future of Florida fishing, you too can fish for red snapper every single day of the year. Regrettably, what Capt. Archer is not telling you in his February 15th opinion piece in The News Herald, is that the only way to fish every day is by paying him and his buddies to do so! As mentioned in this newspaper last year, Capt. Archer “carries recreational charter tours and also fishes commercially in the off-season.” That means he’s a dual-permit holder, and makes money by selling fish to market and also by selling spots on his boat for anglers to access the fishing grounds. Thus, the concept of fish tags has become very attractive to Capt. Archer and the other dual-permit holders, since it memorializes ownership of the red snapper resource and allows share owners to resell fish at the time of highest profit, whether that’s via the fish house or on deck for anglers.

By owning the resource, Capt. Archer could also make money by leasing harvest to others. This is the sharecropping model, governed by law under certain Islamic and French traditions, and popular during the American reconstruction (Click here if you would like to see who owns fish period in the late 1800’s when landowners allowed tenant in the Gulf of Mexico through IFQ Gulf Reef Fish farmers to use land in return for a share of the crops. The new sector separation model for splitting the recreational Accounts.) fishing community into pieces has helped accelerate a progressively similar new sharecropping model in the Gulf of In response to Capt. Archer’s recent editorials panning Mexico. those of us, including Pam Anderson, who prefer to fight In the past, a commercial captain would need to hire two on behalf of the recreational sector as a united community, deckhands to help land and offload red snapper. In the RFA managing director Jim Hutchinson penned the followfuture, a ‘city slickers’ approach would allow captains to ing op-ed piece for the Panama City News Herald in early charge ‘dudes’ to fish commercially for red snapper for fun, February; the editors there chose not to run the piece. with the tagged fish brought back to dock for the captain’s sole profit. No need for deckhands when you can charge NATIONAL RESPONSE TO CAPT. ARCHER the tourists to do the work! Sure you can fish year-round, Capt. Billy Archer wants you to believe that he- along with just pay Capt. Archer and his friends for the ‘right’ to access Environmental Defense Fund and our own federal govern- his fish, and you too can experience the thrill of fishing! ment- is here to help. In fact, if you just follow along with


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Page 42 Remember, under a recreational catch share plan, you can’t catch red snapper without first possessing a fish tag. But with a capped number of tags available, they could be hard to find and worth a great deal of money on the open market. That’s why this scheme is very popular with Wall Street investors, with former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg recently dropping $53 million on a venture called the Vibrant Oceans Initiative. EKO Asset Management Partners’ board member Adam Wolfensohn said of this fishy Bloomberg endeavor, "there is rapidly growing interest in

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‘IFQ’ program is not being subsidized by the American taxpayer, but that's only true if you believe that welfare benefits, unemployment checks and federal ‘fish’ subsidies like this are the socioeconomic model of success for America’s future.

Don’t be fooled by these eco-investors; once Billy Archer and the ocean barons have taken ownership of fish stocks through the progressive approach to selling fishing opportunity back to the angling public at profit, open access fishopportunities to invest in sustainable fisheries and innova- eries will in fact be a thing of the past. Private investors tive financial models that support the transition to sustaina- simply love Big Government! ble fisheries." Hardcore environmentalists are selling investors on the idea of privatizing our oceans, which is precisely why Environmental Defense Fund has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars creating organizations like the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders Alliance, Gulf Fishermen’s Association and South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association. In turn, the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders Alliance spent $48,000 to create a Charter Fishermen’s Association, of which Capt. Billy Archer is one of the earliest board members; he’s also a plaintiff in an EDF-funded lawsuit attempting to stop recreational fishing for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. That’s what Wall Street types refer to as hedging!

————————————————————————————————————

RFA-California Jim Martin, RFA West Coast Director RFA PROTECTS ANGLERS’ RIGHTS IN THE CALIFORNIA COASTAL NATIONAL MONUMENT

California Fishermen were extremely worried when President Bill Clinton designated all the offshore rocks in the State of California as the “California Coastal National Monument” to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management in 2000. Because of the MLPA, a state law mandating nofishing zones, fishermen were already embroiled in a fight Progressives will tell you that catch shares work, while citfor basic public access and were worried that now the feding Alaskan king crab as an ideal model. Next time you eral government would have an additional plan for marine meet a recreational angler who takes his center console out to fish the Alaskan king crab grounds, please introduce protected areas. me. But as far as finfish species, the catch share model has Created on January 11th, 2000, “The California Coastal Naproven to be a disaster. tional Monument comprises more than 20,000 rocks, islands, exposed reefs, and pinnacles along the 1,100 miles of California's coast. The scenic beauty and important “The commercial catch share system here has destroyed wildlife habitat within the Monument are protected by the the party/charter fishing for cod and haddock on Bureau of Land Management as National Conservation Stellwagen Bank and other inshore areas in the Gulf of Maine because it has allowed the large, offshore draggers, Lands.” Imagine a process by which some or all of the 20,000 rocks off California might be “protected” from fishing! generally 70 feet and up, to purchase/lease shares of ‘inshore’ fish that these big boats never worked on before,” Back when the Bureau of Land Management issued its draft management plan for the whole Monument, RFA sounded said Capt. Barry Gibson, a Maine fishing guide and former the alarm because there were proposals to create noeditor of Salt Water Sportsman. Capt. Gibson says big draggers have totally wiped out inshore cod and haddock fishing “buffer zones” around the offshore rocks. Through public hearings we got them to back off. stocks. Does the EDF plan work? There’s an appropriations bill in Congress which includes $75 million for federal fishery disaster relief, targeted in part to the New England groundfishery collapse following implementation of the EDF ‘catch share’ scheme in 2010. Capt. Archer says the commercial

RFA National Executive Director Jim Donofrio ultimately signed a MOU with the BLM. RFA is a “collaborative partner” with the California Coastal National Monument and they are supposed to work with us whenever fisheries issues come up in the management of these areas. So far


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they have refrained from proposing any new fishing regulations. On March 11, 2014, with great fanfare, President Barack Obama added an existing park in southern Mendocino County, around the Point Arena Lighthouse, to the existing California Coastal National Monument, which up to this time only consisted of offshore rocks and islands. According to President Barack Obama’s proclamation expanding the California Coastal National Monument to include the

protection no doubt. The scenery is spectacular and they’ll put some new trails in. The Garcia River estuary holds steelhead, coho salmon and even a stray humpy or two, and improvements to the park might improve access to that fishery. It preserves the natural habitat of the endangered Point Arena Mountain Beaver and we can all get behind that. There was no opposition during the hearings and the locals supported it strongly. They see it as a tourist draw (southern Mendocino County is a very economically depressed area) and also a hedge against offshore oil drilling which if it were ever proposed they could say it might impact the protected features of the monument. Bottom line: we do not see any effect of this designation on saltwater recreational fishing. If anything it might improve access to the steelhead in the freshwater creek. President Obama included the following language in the EO: “Nothing in this proclamation shall enlarge or diminish the jurisdiction or authority of the State of California, including its jurisdiction and authority with respect to fish and wildlife management.” As long as that is respected, we can live with the designation and even support it.

___________________________________________ Point Arena Lighthouse in southern Mendocino County is a prime example of the type of area that falls under the “National Monument” designation.

RFA-NY

Point Arena - Stornetta Public Lands Unit, “All Federal lands and interests in lands within the boundaries of the unit are hereby appropriated and withdrawn from all forms of entry, location, selection, sale, leasing, or other disposition under the public land laws, including withdrawal from location, entry, and patent under the mining laws, and from disposition under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing.” The area is more than 1600 acres around the Point Arena Lighthouse, and fronts a spectacular section of Northern California coastline. The state Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process closed most of the offshore area next to the land protected under the new Executive Order, so the new management plan can’t do anything worse to us. The State of California already kicked us out of the area around the Point Arena lighthouse. Our concerns are the use of the Antiquities Act to “protect” retired ranchland - it’s a special place, but hardly an antiquity -- it’s actually a cow pasture; concerns about the inclusion of onshore lands in the Monument which was just supposed to be the offshore rocks; and we aren’t sure why the new designation was necessary since it was already a park managed by BLM.

New York Sportfishing Federation Jim Hutchinson

It’s a special place and deserves some kind of park

Under region 1 above for example, Massachusetts would have a

IT’S NO FLUKE, JUST A FIASCO On Tuesday, January 14th at 6 pm, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) hosted a public hearing on Long Island to gather public comment on Draft Addendum XXV to the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan. In terms of fluke, the addendum included options that would maintain conservation equivalency where each state gets to set its own regulations based on a given allocation (17.6% for New York), that would allow for management measures by region, as well as the sharing of unused quota, with the intent of providing more equity in recreational harvest opportunities along the coast and addressing the stock dynamic changes that have occurred since the 1998 baseline year use to set individual state allocations. The specific regions considered at the time are (1) Massachusetts; Rhode Island through New Jersey; Delaware through Virginia; and North Carolina and (2) Massachusetts and Rhode Island; Connecticut through New Jersey; Delaware through Virginia; and North Carolina.


Page 44 five fish bag limit, 16-inch size and 132-day season; Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey would all have a four fish bag limit, 18-inch size limit and 135-day season; while Delaware, Maryland and Virginia would each get a four fish bag limit, 16-inch size limit and a 365-day season. North Carolina meanwhile would maintain its six fish, 15-inch size limit and 365-day season. Of the three options and two sub-options contained within public comment document, specifically with regard to fluke, New York anglers would have qualified for the most socioeconomic relief under this regional approach to fluke regulations, particularly Option 3a-Region 1 which gives Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey a 135-day season, and similar 18-inch size limit and four fish bag limit. At that particular ASMFC hearing on Long Island, saltwater anglers, for-hire captains and tackle industry professionals in the New York marine district realized it might be difficult to count on the 135-day season, and asked plenty of questions with regard to the shorter 128-day season and the potential to see an 18-inch size limit for fluke for the first time in nearly a half-dozen years.

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ing opportunity during any given season. In addition to the obvious disparity amongst bordering states in the northern Mid-Atlantic region, the higher size limit forced on New York’s angling community in recent years to accommodate a reasonable season for Long Island Sound, East End, South Shore and Staten Island anglers has also increased bycatch mortality on released fish, something ‘NMFS’ focused significant attention to in recent months through various workshops and outreach sessions. To reduce bycatch mortality in the fluke fishery here in New York and to stop focusing the recreational harvest exclusively on female summer flounder, it’s imperative that a more sensible size limit of 18 inches or less be implemented. However, given the current state-by-state allocation, the broken federal fisheries law, and the neglect of NOAA

While New Jersey and Rhode Island members of the Recreational Fishing Alliance supported alternate options that kept the autonomy that has come from 15 years of the state-by-state allocation but would allow states such as New York to utilize unused summer flounder quota, New York and Connecticut RFA members were fully supportive of the regional limit to help lower the overall size limit on fluke in New York waters by a full inch, though the number of available fishing days will be reduced by up to 24 days in 2014 versus 2013. New York anglers of course have been hampered by an inadequate state allocation relative to the size and important of the its recreational summer flounder fishery that has resulted in state being limited to the largest size & smallest bag combination along the entire Atlantic Coast: 2010 21 inches, two fish 2011 20-1/2 inches, three fish 2012 19-1/2 inches, four fish 2013 19 inches, four fish (152 days) By this ‘pattern’ one might think that 2014 could bring us the opportunity to get down to the more reasonable limit enjoyed by our neighboring states, where Rhode Island had an 18-inch size limit in 2013 (245 days), Connecticut (168 days) and New Jersey (130 days) both with 17-1/2 inches. As RFA-NY members have realized though, at this rate and given the current management options, it would take another six years at least before New York could see an 18-inch size limit coupled with reasonable days of fish-

RFA Board Of Director Ken Ehlers of Lamiglas unhooks a hefty Long Island Sound fluke, one of the jumbos that migrate down past the North Fork of the island in mid-May each season.


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Fisheries to make any substantive fixes to the recreational data collection, in order to get an 18-inch size limit on fluke in New York under the status quo approach to fisheries management would’ve meant implementing a season of about 90 days.For obvious reasons, this simply was not an acceptable option for New York anglers. RFA as a national organization opposed this move to the adaptive regional approach, and most hardcore New York anglers understand the reason why. This current plan is little more than a band-aid, a one-year, temporary fix for a problem that has existed for decades but which has gotten significantly worse since 2006 following the reauthorization of Magnuson-Stevens. The federal fisheries law, complete with rigid deadlines, annual catch limits and accountability measures is caustic for the recreational fishing community; with “fatally flawed” recreational data that was to have been repaired/replaced as of 2009, and you have a deadly combination. When ASMFC took public comments from New Yorkers on January 14th, we were told that given a 128- or 135-day season, we could set our own season start and end date without any issue. It was then that the West End and East businesses got together with South Shore and North Shore stakeholders, and agreed that giving up 24 days of the season with an equal cut from the beginning and end dates was a worthwhile compromise to finally get to the 18-inch size limit. As such, a common, unified front was presented to the ASMFC, that with a May 10th to September 14th season for fluke under the minimum 128-day seasonal restrictions, that all would be in favor of this adaptive regionalized approach to summer flounder management. At a March 18th meeting of the New York Marine Resources Advisory Council (MRAC), the recreational fishing community was told that we would be getting our 18-inch size limit; however, ASMFC, under apparent pressure by NOAA Fisheries, mandated that no more than 45 days of fishing would be allowed during the May/June timeframe. This 11th hour restrictive mandate stemming from two decades worth of “fatally flawed” recreational data collection dictated that the fluke season could not start prior to May 17th, which was a complete and utter shock to the East End fishing community. Empirical work done on summer flounder indicates that male and female fish have different life history characteristics and display different seasonal movements. While male summer flounder tend to move primarily east-west

Page 45 throughout their life, female summer flounder tend to zigzag up the coast as they increase in age and size. With nearly 100% of summer flounder over 18 inches being female, the consequences of an 18-inch minimum size limit are not just socioeconomic but also detrimental to the overall reproductive value of the summer flounder stock. Many fluke fishermen along the North Fork target fluke only for a few weeks in May/June while they’re moving inshore from their winter grounds, which makes up what is called Wave 3 of the recreational data collection. By not allowing these fishermen access to this fishery, it’s expected to cost recreational fishing businesses $1,000 a day or more. These fish also happen to be some of the bigger, if not biggest, of the entire summer arrivals. New York anglers have complained for years about the ever-tightening noose of season, size and bag limit restrictions, and they’re often reminded about use of a 1998baseline for setting state-by-state fluke allocation. Many feel that the 17.6 of quota, second only to New Jersey’s 39.1%, is unjust – more egregious perhaps is the fact that New York anglers harvested 1.2 million fluke in 1998 with that 17.6% quota, at a time when the summer flounder population was still rebuilding. According to the Marine Recreational Statistical Surveys (MRFSS) of 2003, New York anglers grossly overharvested their allowable limit of fluke for the season, mostly because of the Wave 3 data in May/June. The problem as stakeholders would eventually learn is that ‘dockside intercepts’ whereby survey collectors count fish at the dock were heavily biased towards the East End of Long Island, particularly at the North Fork. When that May/June ‘fish’ data is multiplied by the ‘effort’ data compiled by calling coastal phone books throughout the New York marine district, what results is a flawed reading of harvest in the West End in the spring when there really isn’t any. Since 2003, New York fluke anglers have been forced to restrict their season, size and bag limit every year following another round of MRFSS data that translates East End dockside intercepts across the entire marine district. And in 2014, the woeful lack of responsible data being utilized by our own Commerce Department has finally resulted in the final solution, to stop North Fork and East End fluke anglers from fishing during the weeks when fluke are actually prevalent in local waters. In recent congressional hearings, we’ve heard a bipartisan call for ‘flexibility’ in federal fisheries, with statements from


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they’re often reminded about use of a 1998 baseline for setting state-by-state fluke allocation.

sis following the disaster declaration proves that, so surely those recreational numbers are suspect.

Many feel that the 17.6% of quota, second only to New Jersey’s 39.1%, is unjust – more egregious perhaps is the fact that New York anglers harvested 1.2 million fluke in 1998 with that 17.6% quota, at a time when the summer flounder population was still rebuilding.

TWO, it’s clearly evident that the major body of fish is to the northern Mid-Atlantic region where New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are fishing fewer days than our southern counterparts, yet finding more of the fish that we’re currently allowed.

According to the Marine Recreational Statistical Surveys (MRFSS) of 2003, New York anglers grossly overharvested their allowable limit of fluke for the season, mostly because of the Wave 3 data in May/ June. The problem as stakeholders would eventually learn is that ‘dockside intercepts’ whereby survey collectors count fish at the dock were heavily biased towards the East End of Long Island, particularly at the North Fork. When that May/June ‘fish’ data is multiplied by the ‘effort’ data compiled by calling coastal phone books throughout the New York marine district, what results is a flawed reading of harvest in the West End in the spring when there really isn’t any. Since 2003, New York fluke anglers have been forced to restrict their season, size and bag limit every year following another round of MRFSS data that translates East End dockside intercepts across the entire marine district. And in 2014, the woeful lack of responsible data being utilized by our own Commerce Department has finally resulted in the final solution, to stop North Fork and East End fluke anglers from fishing during the weeks when fluke are actually prevalent in local waters. In recent congressional hearings, we’ve heard a bipartisan call for ‘flexibility’ in federal fisheries, with statements from key leaders that the federal fisheries law, the Magnuson Stevens Act, simply does not work for the recreational community. The fact that recreational data collection shows that the only Atlantic Coastal States that went over their allotted recreational harvest levels in 2013 were Connecticut, New York and New Jersey tells us two things: ONE, the NOAA mission to migrate from MRFSS to MRIP has simply not been met, not when you consider that a Post-Sandy fishing world in our region shows markedly less effort and participation – even the Commerce Department’s own post-Sandy analy-

It’s a shame that things have gotten to the point where state anglers and industry leaders are fighting amongst themselves for scraps. Even when the folks in New York were able to finally get together under a united front, the federal government came in and pulled the rug right out from under their feet. NOAA Fisheries and the Commerce Department are to blame; members of Congress are willing accomplices. So the 2014 season is set, but the socioeconomic effects will take a year to realize, and the management response for 2015 is one that has everyone just a little bit leery.

Watch These Pages for more RFA Chapter and Regional News!


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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 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

John DePersenaire Policy & Science Researcher

Capt. Barry Gibson New England Regional Director

Cover & Background Designs: Mustard Seed Graphics


Making Waves - Spring 2014