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On Go the Giveways

“They sugar coat even the name: Limited Entry. A better name would be Limited Vision. Even more accurate: Unlimited Giveaway.

“By whatever title, the idea is to hand over fishing rights to a select few commercial fishers. These are the same fishers, by the way, who decimated stocks in the first place.

“Anyway, give them exclusive rights for free. Then let them sell those valuable rights later on, or pass them on to a friend or relative.”

Editor Jeff Weakley reminds me that we published those words as part of a comprehensive article warning that federal fishing managers were moving ahead with a commercially backed limited entry program that would deplete fish populations and diminish family level recreational angling.

A bold headline stated: “Coming on Strong: LIMITED ENTRY — The Giveaway of Our Fisheries.”

That was a mere 17 years ago.

Sure nuff, the giveaways have come true in a number of fisheries as the market-oriented federal system of ap- pointed bureaucrats panders more to a seafood industry than to a far more valuable general public and the basic resource.

“We’re facing layers of absurdities that have never happened anywhere,” Editor Jeff said, referring specifically to the red snapper imbroglio that continues to worsen.

The beyond-crazy red snapper regulations now pit one Gulf state against another and against contradictory and bewildering federal decisions.

Related to the limited-entry giveaway, the fishing community now faces one bizarre and damaging decision after the other.

Probably the most striking result is that there are situations when the typical citizen may not keep one single red snapper even though a commercial fisher may haul up and sell truckloads of them.

It may not be surprising that many anglers are defying the plainly screwball policies. However much we understand and sympathize with the reasons for the current disobedience, we don’t condone breaking the law. Better, we suggest, is to fix the broken wagon.

Karl Wiskstrom