One way the financial finaglers got away with their derivative schemes was to keep it all so complicated that the normal citizen, and congressperson, remained baffled, and silent.

At one point, money scammers even brought in a physicist to conjure up a bewildering formula that completely intimidated all observers. Hindsight showed the fancy equations to be worthless drivel.

The same fancy footwork, regretfully, is used in federal fisheries management.

We’re getting another barrage of it in planned grouper/snapper regulations that are expected to bring devastating closures and limits for recreational anglers while protecting big-scale commercial hauls.

Sadly, many well-meaning marine conservationists have rolled over for the reams of so-called science behind the feds’ version of “derivatives.”

And unfortunately most anglers will know nothing about it until closures and extreme limits hit the fan, or cleaning tables, in the next year.

The National Marines Fisheries Service and South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council change details with each moon phase, but the plan at this writing is to shut down grouper fishing for four months and slash limits by more than half in the rest of the year, while still allowing close to a half-million pounds of gutted gag groupers for large market takes in the same year.

The feds are to consider their plans this month (March 2-6) in Jekyll Island, Georgia, but it’s best to check and the Council for possible updates (and moon phases).

Meanwhile, we implore once again that a fundamental policy change is needed. First, establish equal limits for every individual, reasonable and year-around, on a sustainable basis that keeps stocks abundant. Then, if there is a fishable surplus, allow commercial takes in excess of bag limits.

We’re happy to see that Coastal Conservation Association Florida seems to endorse this policy concept even though CCA had acquiesced to closures.

In a new letter CCA Director Ted Forsgren decries “Unfair and Inequitable Resources Allocations” and states:

“If any fishery is in such poor condition that the recreational take must be reduced by means of months long closures, and/or continually smaller & smaller bag limits, then the Fisheries Managers should not continue commercial exploitation of that fishery.”

Well said, Ted. It’s time to settle for nothing less.

This sound philosophy that led to current wildlife practices inland and in many state jurisdictions (and in a few marine locations like the Everglades National Park) will prevail only if we demand it.

No physicist is needed to devise mumbo-jumbo formulae. Commonsense will do just fine.

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