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Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010

Below you'll find some commentary from Robert  Montgomery, the writer whose piece published on the ESPN Web site brought much needed attention to the plight of recreational fishing. But, going backwards, I'm going to put my response ahead of his letter. After all, it's my blog. More importantly, I want to lay out what I feel is the true scope of the plan under consideration by the Obama administration. I wrote in this space months ago that the appointment of Dr. Jane Lubchenco to head NOAA meant a national agenda mirroring the MLPA in California. When I tried to contact Lubchenco when she was a candidate, I spoke with her assistant who freely offered up the fact Dr. Jane was good friends with Meg Caldwell of the Blue Ribbon Task Force and Michael Sutton of the Fish and Game Commission, both familiar to readers of this blog as staunch proponents of broad fishing closures.

Anyway, here's my response, with Montgomery's letter and some great links below it.


Nicely put, but from my intimate experience with this crowd, I think that the zoning would be put in place wholesale and then the easing  of restrictions, permits, etc. would be piecemeal.

After I wrote the above line, I stopped and thought about it some  more. I don't know if you have followed the battle between the NOAA  Sanctuary system and NMFS Fisheries Councils over the right to  control fishing -- which was a necessary power for a sanctuary to  have in order to create reserves.

Well it's my notion the "zones" will be like sanctuaries but with  fully vested powers, eliminating the need to rewrite the charters and/ or expand the sanctuary system,  which was originally put in place to  stem offshore drilling. NOAA sees a huge challenge from FERC, which  is issuing wave farm, etc. permits all over the place. In fact, they  issued one right on top  of a marine reserve that is pending approval  in the MLPA Initiative South Coast  project that is in its final legs.

Here's the deal -- once they get the zones set up, it will be much  like the passage of the MLPA  legislation in California -- a legal  mandate that takes precedence over other laws and even constitutional protections. Not that there won't be an "open and transparent"  process put into place that will satisfy all NEPA and state  requirements -- it's just that it won't matter because the scientists  put in place will all be Lubchenco's hand-picked champions of MPAs  and eco-system-based management. Since the process will  be based on  the "best available science" the outcome is predetermined other than  how much power brokers such as the energy companies will be able to  carve out for their own.

In other words, if Obama uses the Monuments Act to create a system  that doesn't have protections for recreational anglers already in  place, it's as good as over.


Rich Holland
Senior Editor
Western Outdoor News

An Open Letter from Robert Montgomery

Robert Montgomery is Senior Writer for BASS Publications and Contributing Editor to Stratos Magazine. He has been involved in educating the fishing public on a potential political agenda that might have a harmful impact on recreational fishing. Below is an open letter from Robert that includes links to a couple radio interviews and links to a series of articles he has written on the future of recreational fishing.
Fishing friends and relatives,

I'm doing yet another interview Monday on the threat to fishing posed by the Obama administration's Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force and its strategy for federal management of our waters.

You can catch this one if you'd like, no matter where you live.  Here's the information:

Here is the link where the archived show will be posted for any time, anywhere listening:
Outside Iowa Radio
Please pass this on to others as well. And please go to KeepAmericaFishing to speak out on this issue.

If you missed it: Here's a recap:

Okay, here's the real story regarding President Obama and fishing:

On Tuesday, March 9, media frenzy and national hysteria erupted over my article on the ESPN Outdoors web site ---- "Culled out." One link showed up on Google declaring that ESPN reported that the President was about to ban fishing.

 That is NOT true. Plus, I never have said that Obama is banning or plans to ban fishing. That's wild exaggeration and fear-mongering. Those on the right used the rumor as ammunition for their hatred of the President. Those on the left used it as license for righteous indignation.

Because of ESPN's "disclaimer,"  which many viewed as a "retraction," some who first believed the threat was real found themselves reconsidering and thinking that they had been duped. The threat is real.

What I did say --- and will continue to say --- is that a federal structure is in place and a strategy is being implemented that threaten our rights to fish public waters. Additionally, this was my 10th article since last September on this subject, with most of them receiving few comments. No one seemed to care about this danger until some wild exaggerations were made.

This started last June, with the President issuing a memo to create an Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force. Staffed with "high-ranking" administration officials, this task force was to design a "spatial planning" --- zoning --- strategy for our oceans, coastal waters, and the Great Lakes . Plus, the door is left wide open for the feds to expand into  management of inland waters as well.

 Stated intent is to provide better protection and management of our waters, and, in general, that is something that most people could agree with. All sports fishermen want to stop pollution, maintain and enhance habitat, and conserve fisheries for future generations.

But keep in mind that zoning means restrictions, as with lower speeds in "school zones." Only this plan would deal with how we use the water:  wind farms, gas and oil drilling, commercial fishing --- and recreational angling, among others.

One of the most frightening aspects of this power grab is that it is being driven by preservationists, both within the administration and in environmental groups behind the scenes. Within weeks of Obama's election, these groups put together a "Transition to Green" document that provided a blueprint for the administration to follow.

More than a left/right, Democrat/Republican issue, this is one of conservation versus preservation. Fishermen are conservationists, who believe in being good stewards for the resource, as they also enjoy it. Preservationists believe in "look but don't touch," as in antiques shops. At best, they are indifferent to fishing. Some would like to ban it.

With the first document it created, what was important was not what was said, but what was NOT said. This clearly showed the bias of those in charge. The task force showed absolutely no consideration for the social, cultural, economic, historic, and conservation importance of recreational fishing. Instead, it mentioned only "overfishing" and unsustainable fishing," and seemed to lump together recreational anglers and commercial fishermen, who are responsible for most of the stock depletions.

With the second document, it recommended establishment of a massive top-down bureaucracy to manage our waters.

Before the public comment period for the second had ended, the environmental groups were pressuring President Obama to bypass Congressional oversight and sign an Executive Order, confirming the task force's recommendations --- even before a final report was issued. My sources told me that intent was to issue final report sometime in March --- with no public input to follow --- and the order to follow soon thereafter.

That might have changed now because of the firestorm of controversy. What we do know is that the White House has issued two strongly worded statements in support of  recreational fishing. That was something that the fishing industry wanted, but had been unable to obtain.

But recreational fishing is not safe yet, especially if the President bypasses Congress and follows through with an Executive Order.

Would recreational fishing be banned right away on your favorite waters? Almost certainly it would not. The likely route would be "death by a thousand cuts," with the movement starting slowly, taking away one fishery here, another there --- until the feds tell you to get off your favorite waters.

That's why it's important for all anglers --- salt and fresh --- to get involved, to press the advantage that we now have, with this issue gone viral and mainstream.

First, educate yourself. Read my series of articles at"

 Angling for Access Archives

Also, go to KeepAmericaFishing to find out more about what you can do.

Robert Montgomery
Senior Writer, BASS Publications;
Contributing Editor, Stratos Magazine

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