The Obama administration has ended
public input for a federal strategy that could prohibit U.S. citizens
from fishing some of the nation's oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes,
and even inland waters.
This announcement comes at the time
when the situation supposedly still is "fluid" and the Interagency Ocean
Policy Task Force still hasn't issued its final report on zoning uses of
Fishing industry insiders, who have
negotiated for months with officials at the Council on Environmental
Quality and bureaucrats on the task force, had grown concerned that the
public input would not be taken into account.
"When the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) completed their
successful campaign to convince the Ontario government to end one of the
best scientifically managed big-game hunts in North America (spring
bear), the results of their agenda had severe economic impacts on small
family businesses and the tourism economy of communities across northern
and central Ontario," said Phil Morlock, director of environmental
affairs for Shimano.
"Now we see NOAA (National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration) and the administration planning the future
of recreational fishing access in America based on a similar agenda of
these same groups and other Big Green anti-use organizations, through an
Executive Order by the President. The current U.S. direction with
fishing is a direct parallel to what happened in Canada with hunting:
The negative economic impacts on hard-working American families and
small businesses are being ignored.
"In spite of what we hear daily in the
press about the President's concern for jobs and the economy and
contrary to what he stated in the June order creating this process, we
have seen no evidence from NOAA or the task force that recreational
fishing and related jobs are receiving any priority."
Unless more anglers speak up to their
Congressional representatives so their input will be considered, it
appears the task force will issue a final report for "marine spatial
planning" by late March. President Barack Obama then could possibly
issue an Executive Order to implement its recommendations.
Led by NOAA's Jane Lubchenco, the task
force has shown no overt dislike of recreational angling. As ESPN
previously reported, WWF, Greenpeace, Defenders of Wildlife, Pew
Environment Group and others produced a document entitled "Transition
Green" shortly after Obama was elected in 2008.
What has happened since suggests that
the task force has been in lockstep with that position paper, according
In late summer, just after the
administration created the task force, these groups produced
"Recommendations for the Adoption and Implementation of an Oceans,
Coasts, and Great Lakes National Policy." This document makes repeated
references to "overfishing," but doesn't reference recreational angling,
its importance, and its benefits, both to participants and the resource.
Additionally, some of these same
organizations have revealed their anti-fishing bias with their attempts
to ban tackle containing lead in the United States and Canada.
Also, recreational angling and
commercial fishing have been lumped together as harmful to the resource,
despite protests by the angling industry.
Morlock's evidence of collusion -- the
green groups began clamoring for an Executive Order to implement the
task force's recommendations even before the public comment period ended
On Feb. 12, the New York Times
reported on that "President Obama and his team are preparing an array of
actions using his executive power to advance energy, environmental,
fiscal and other domestic policy priorities."
Click here for archiveMorlock fears
that "what we're seeing coming at us is an attempted dismantling of the
science-based fish and wildlife model that has served us so well.
There's no basis in science for the agendas of these groups who are
trying to push the public out of being able to fish and recreate.
"Conflicts (user) are overstated and
problems are manufactured. It's all just an excuse to put us off the
In the wake of the task force's
framework document, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF) and
its partners in the U.S. Recreational Fishing & Boating Coalition again
voiced their concerns to the administration.
"Some of the potential policy
implications of this interim framework have the potential to be a real
threat to recreational anglers who not only contribute billions of
dollars to the economy and millions of dollars in tax revenues to
support fisheries conservation, but who are also the backbone of the
American fish and wildlife conservation ethic," said CSF President Jeff
Morlock, a member of the CSF board,
added, "There are over one million jobs in America supported coast to
coast by recreational fishing. The task force has not included any
accountability requirements in their reports for evaluating or
mitigating how the new policies they are drafting will impact the
fishing industry or related economies.
"Given that the scope of this process
appears to include a new set of policies for all coastal and inland
waters of the United States, the omission of economic considerations is
This is not the only access issue
threatening the public's right to fish, but it definitely is the most
serious, according to Chris Horton, national conservation director for
"With what's being created, the same
principles could apply inland as apply to the oceans," he said. "Under
the guise of 'marine spatial planning' entire watersheds could be shut
down, even 2,000 miles up a river drainage from the ocean.
"Every angler needs to be aware
because if it's not happening in your backyard today or tomorrow, it
will be eventually.
"We have one of the largest voting
blocks in the country and we need to use it. We must not sit idly by."