From Alaska to Florida and everywhere in between the story is the same: the mandarins of state and federal regulatory agencies, buoyed by support from an array of monied interests, are usurping the right of the everyday Americans to simply go fish.
In Florida, my home state, regulatory agencies are responsible for promulgating over 600 recreational fishing rules (most are multivariate) in the past 30 years. Not surprisingly, the pace of regulatory engagement is picking up steam with every year. This is one state, one agency (FWC). Federal & State agencies and regional bodies (Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, et.al.) have been no less active…. say activist. We are under attack across the United States.
The Gulf States, offer a particularly apt example of the byzantine nature of the larger problem. Owing by degree to the use of outmoded fisheries management techniques, questionable science, political chicanery, the utter disregard for impact & the rule of law, the advice of their own “experts” and the the legitimate opposition of the affected states…. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has passed and forwarded to US Secretary of Commerce for approval Amendment 40 – Sector Separation. Sector separation pits one set of anglers against another and is the gateway regulation for the codification of Red Snapper catch shares in the Gulf of Mexico. To say that Amendment 40 is controversial and widely opposed by a majority of stakeholders is an understatement of monumental proportions. That this stinker of a regulation has survived to be within one signature of becoming the law of the land is a testament to, well….. nothing good, nothing reasonable, nothing upstanding.
If this were an outlier, a “Gulf thing”, you might just shake you head, feel a little sorry for those affected and move along. It is, unfortunately, neither unique nor a regional aberration. Fisheries management across the United States is performed at the extreme expense of the recreational angler. All waters, all species. Whenever one of the 8 Regional Fisheries Management Councils is floating a proposed new amendment our input is disingenuously requested and studiously ignored. The councils grow ever bolder ignoring the full range of stakeholders at will to support the narrow fisheries management bias of a small cadre of appointed bureaucrats.
So that this is not simply a screed…. I am encouraging readers to do the following:
- Get and stay informed.
- Personally appraise your elected representatives at the federal (there are quite a few new ones just taking office….) and state level of the overreach of fisheries management personnel and your engaged status as a recreational angler.
- Align yourself with organizations (Fishing Rights Alliance, CCA, Old Salt Fishing Foundation, and more) that advocate on behalf of recreational anglers for the right to fish in a sound and logical manner.
- Rabble rouse a little bit…. call, write, comment in social media to the individuals in the fisheries management agencies who have determined that they are the determinant, final word when it comes to doling out your fishing rights.
To end on a higher note, enjoy this wonderful little exchange between Alabama Congressman Bradley Byrne and National Marine Fisheries Samuel Raush. You cannot make this stuff up…..
This is a guest post from Jim Alexander. Mr. Alexander is a Florida based recreational angler and an active member in the Old Salt Fishing Foundation. His assertions and opinions are his own.