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Saturday, October 29, 2011

RFA Addresses Extension in Saving Congressional Bills!

The future of Florida's offshore saltwater fisheries lays in the hands of time as it is ticking away to a point were angling could be closed indefinitely! In fact it could encompass the entire Atlantic Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico, as user groups such as the Recreational Fishing Alliance addresses Extension in Saving Congressional Bills, before they flounder, in an attempt to enact legislation that would prevent such from taking place. Without such extensions, data loose to No Fishing Here may occur across our part of the country!

Because of the changes to a fisheries law, the re-authorized Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 2006, where NOAA was hedging its bets with time and the language because they needed more time and, in law, its all about the language, not what it says; like in “The Art of Fishing.” In the Art of fishing, it is really not about fishing but how it is formulated but in our case of the Magnuson Act of 2006, it could open the doors up to frivolous lawsuits and all fishing could be shut down in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico! That leaves Florida, up the creek, without a paddle or fishing rods as there could be NO FISHING ALLOWED!

In a laymen term, NO FISHING ALLOWED!
There are two bills in the House of Representatives are to amend the Magnuson Act of 2006.
H.R. 2304 would "provide the necessary scientific information to properly implement annual catch limits."
H.R. 3061 would "extend the authorized time period for rebuilding of certain overfished fisheries" and is supported by the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

That equates out to a loose of $3.3 billion in retail sales in Florida along, as trickle down Economics shuts down tackle sales to fish sales all across the nation and as well, here at home in Florida; more unemployed to underemployed! All because of NOAA/NMFS and its altercations to the Magnuson Act. So when you here Dr. Jane Lubchenco's smart answer to vibrant coastal communities and sustainable fisheries, you too know know who's side she is on; the non-fishing groups! She would have you watch them at the aquarium and buy them from Vietnam in a global division of share-holders controlling the fish you once caught.

The closures are happening because of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which regulates fishing in federal waters. When the act was re-authorized in 2006, Congress mandated that annual catch limits, ( ACLs ), be determined for all 528 species of ocean fish caught in the fishing industry. Then these catch shares might prevent overfishing of the species or so was thought.

The problem is that, to come up with ACLs for all the specific species, NOAA Fisheries has to assess each of those fish populations and it has to be complete by January 1st. They procrastinated and suddenly realized time was running short. In a gesture to pull the proverbial rabbit, out of the hat, a number of revisions were set in place, like the wording to include the phrase “Best Available Science.” Another laymen term for: stretch the truth or a fisherman’s tale! Now, real data, can be supplemented by “Best Available Science.” Stock assessments were done for 119 species, and the rest were done either by “Best Available Science” or incomplete, as NOAA then blamed budget cuts and a lack of time in putting the agencies way behind on the remaining ACLs, which have that deadline of Jan. 1. They did receive a small budget cut but had they started the assessment period back in 2006, that would have been five years to complete the assignment. So with “Best Available Science” they almost completed the assignment with flawed data, which equates out to no data and thus the fishermen will suffer, as well sales related to saltwater fishing; which accounts for $5.7 billion in economic activity.

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act needs a revision to adjust to the times with nonobligatory phrases removed, fish user groups should be in charge of ACLs and Stake-Holders, NOAA and NMFS removed altogether from the equation. In Florida, our own FWC does and excellent job in regulating our fisheries and should continue to do so. As with such Organizations such as SGF, Snook & Gamefish Foundation and The Online Fisherman, to name a few, are lending a hand to the Florida Wildlife Commission in doing what is necessary to obtain the best numbers we can muster through real time counts of fish caught on the water. Real data, real numbers showing just what is happening in our fisheries, not “Best Guess” as has been noted in past occasions with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) & National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) . You will notice NOAA is on FaceBook with lots of information, while NMFS too has a page but like the data it collects for NOAA, it is blank?

I could go on about the NMFS survey vessel collecting data on Red Snapper. As the Captain called over on the radio, to the Captain of the NOAA boat, out of St. Pete., Fl., asking why they were long-linning in 60 feet of water with no structure and a hard flat bottom? The Skipper of the NOAA/NMFS Research Vessel exclaimed; “I know that there are NO SNAPPER HERE but they do not care. They do not wish to fowl the line and want an easy quick trip! I mean what's the difference between 60 feet and one-hundred and sixty feet? The answer to that is FISH! Shortly after NOAA received its data from that trip and others, they closed down Red Snapper fishing because they could not find any so they must be overfished! Is that sound science to you? It is not to me! Either Replace Dr. Jane Lubchenco & staff with sound ethical scientists like Dr. Ray Hilborn or dump them from the equation altogether in letting each State Police its self-imposed laws! To use a sentence from Pew Trust, “Fishing targets must be more conservative than they have been in the past,” and this is true but only if it is guided by sound science, user groups representing fishermen, such as the FRA or the RFA and as Gary Poyssick states “explore, overturn, and rewrite the Magnuson. This time by user groups, not stockholders.”


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