When Bill Shedd and others in the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans (PSO) were thinking of creating a hat that fishermen could buy to help raise money and awareness for the lawsuit against the marine closure process, a few ideas were tossed around.
Someone at a meeting suggested, “Hey, why not have it say, ‘Sue the Bastards’? That would have been funny, and probably a pretty good seller. “While it expressed our sentiments, it wasn’t quite the high road we wanted to take,” Shedd remembered with a chuckle.
What was eventually decided was a simple request, one that said it all. “Let us fish.” Done. The 4,000 hats were ordered, paid for by AFTCO, which has seemingly been in the thick of every local and national conservation battle in the past 20 years. Gillnets, longlines, trawlers, oil spills. Defending your right to fish is just good business, besides being the right thing to do when it comes to public land and access.
When the Fred Hall Long Beach sportsman’s show makes it’s five-day run, followed by another four days in Del Mar two weeks later, every major booth will be selling the hat for $10. The goal is to raise $50,000 for the lawsuit and awareness. You can donate money and buy a hat online at www.guyharveysportswear.com/blog/2011/02/donate-to-support-california-lawsuit/
. To directly donate money to the fund, go to www.oceanaccessprotectionfund.org
and use a credit card.
The capacity for giving among the average man can be surprising, even uplifting.
“When Guy Harvey set up a foundation for raising money through his website to offset the effects of the old spill in the gulf, the goal was $10,000,” said Shedd. “It raised $500,000. You just never know. We’re hoping the hat will be a sort of fashion statement at the show. People will wear it, and others will want to buy them and wear it, like ‘I voted’ buttons,” said Shedd.
The forces of extremism are at play in this drama. Big money is behind the Marine Life Protection Act. When the budget-strapped government couldn’t pay for the process to continue, the Packard Foundation footed the bill. The Brown Act for open meetings was violated in many instances, public decisions were made in private in Task Force meetings, memos, e-mails, whatever. Many of these illegal memos can be read at www.wonews.comon the MLPA blog. The lawsuit has merit and is the final obstacle.
So far, $250,000 has been raised to keep the lawsuit afloat, and before it’s all over, I’m told the legal juggernaut is going to cost $900,000. Although Shedd will be upset at me for divulging this to the general public, AFTCO is the company that reached into its back pocket to get this lawsuit started. It took $50,000 in seed money to investigate through the Freedom of Information Act whether the lawsuit had merit. That seed money was a check by AFTCO; ditto for the cost of the hats.
Listen, folks, all fundraisers start with someone reaching into their picket and yelling out, “Hey, I’ll throw down some money!” Many others have followed. One man’s donation, when he heard about the lawsuit from the plaintiff, former SAC prez and deputy DFG director Bob Fletcher, was a check for $50,000. The hats and perhaps publicity about the lawsuit may draw people to donate who are not even fishermen.
There have been some incredible moments in this sordid MLPA affair. Even for an industry that has fought back at a time when we’ve taken some brutal economic hits. But the lawsuit is all about fairness. Massive coastal and island areas will be closed to fishing by next year, unnecessary closures. We have the least impact of fisheries, yet we are the easiest targets. But the MLPA process was stacked against us. Big money in collusion with government, decisions often made in secret, not based on any science.
I’ll buy one of those hats at the show and wear it proudly. Although I like “Sue the Bastards.” A little more catchy, you might say.
Michael Leonard of The American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the national group based in Alexandria, Virginia, told WON the show will have many booths and opportunities to donate as well as buy the hat.
“Starting in Long Beach, Turner’s Outdoorsman will be launching a partnership with the group Keep American Fishing, to help fund our legal effort,” said Leonard. “Customers at their retail area can add a donation ($1 or more) to each purchase. Starting after the shows, Turner’s will extend this campaign into all of their stores. All donations will go directly to the Ocean Access Protection Fund.”
Leonard said that while the “Let Us Fish” $10 hat will also be sold at booths throughout the show, “at this time I can’t say which booths will have them because they are still being purchased. They will be sold for sure at the PSO/UASC booth, and if folks visit us (ASA) at the KeepAmericaFishing booth we should have a list of all the exhibitors that are selling them. People can also make direct donations at the PSO/UASC booth.” Or online at