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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Just what is fishery management?

We have talked a lot about fishing politics. Largely to no avail, unfortunately. For several years now, since I was told that I could not enter what I thought was a federal meeting with a camera, we have argued that something really bad is happening concerning fishing, fishing regulations, environmentalists, and money. Big big money. The logic that the guy running the meeting (or the guy I thought was managing the meeting) used to keep my camera out was something called the Chatham Rule. When he attempted to evoke it at a Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, I was familiar with the Oxford University method of managing meetings. Combined with a tactic designed specifically to steer the "consensus" of a meeting run by a predetermined and trained meeting managers, Chatham argues that cameras and audio recorders 'stifle' people's willingness to share their true opinion. Being afraid that somebody might hold them accountable for what they said, bureaucrats in the United Nations feel much better if the press is kept far away.

At that meeting in Tampa two years ago, I called the police. They agreed with me that the Florida sunshine law - which demands freedom of the press (I have a card with the letters PRESS in big red letters on them that are actually official) - trumps UN protocol. That protocol is commonly used by fishery management people, you know. More than three quarters of the time reporters just believe it is law, and lay down and hide their cameras. And let regulations pass and pass and pass that reward friends and demolish towns like Madeira beach.

It is time to start recording every one of these meetings. Tomorrow night in Orlando, the south atlantic fishery management council is having a meeting, and reporters - and camera crews - will be there. It is at the raddison and of you visit the council's site there is information about the meeting. If you have the time, we would love any angler concerned about their freedom to fish, their access rights, and the rights of the American press to enter meetings of government regulatory bodies, we would love to have you there.

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