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Our Cup Runneth Over, Again

March 2012

Issues affecting the Florida Sportsman’s way of life are as pressing as ever. Here are our top priorities. As always, your support is needed.

Federal closures of many huge areas of ocean waters to fishing, notably red snapper, cause widespread turmoil and damages. Our position is that limited recreational fishing should be allowed, just as in management of freshwater bass, snook, deer and dozens of other species. NOAA’s stock assessments are under continuing fire for what many perceive to be badly flawed science.

Allocation of fish is skewed toward allowing large-volume commercial catches. This causes no end to bad management. It is proved continually that the non-commercial industry triggers far more economic and social benefits than does taking tons of easily caught wildlife for market profits.

NOAA persists in promoting “catch shares” schemes that would divide up catches within certain users. While such a concept can work, arguably, in a defined commercial industry, it is completely unworkable and undesirable among non-commercial citizen users. It’s been shown repeatedly that personal-use management works perfectly when applied to all citizens equally. The catch shares idea is pushed primarily by the President’s NOAA director Jane Lubchenko, who has virtually zero experience in wildlife management.

A major problem in the fishing and hunting community comes from certain groups who are against the practice of any takings of wildlife, whatever the populations may be. We must continue to extol the many virtues of fishing and hunting on a completely sustainable basis.

Overfishing for the market of species such as swordfish, marlin, tuna and others is a continuing problem. We should lead and support efforts to stop commercial excesses, while maintaining benefits from non-commercial uses which do not significantly affect stocks.

Personal conflicts of interest among certain legislators and regulators, federal and state, must be eliminated. To its credit, the state of Florida has curtailed many financial conflicts on agencies such as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Florida Sportsman met with three incoming governors to secure pledges to not name financially conflicted interests to the state management commission.

Concerning freshwater fishing and hunting, we are combating a continuing campaign by a bloc of state legislators that would privatize many thousands of acres by re-defining the high-water marks and changing public vs. private boundaries. This attempted landowner grab will re-occur as a small number tries endlessly to take over public property and limit citizens’ access.

On goes the battle for the Florida Sportsman.