May 16, 2011
Dang, I sat down to write a blue skies and happiness column, and along comes a fancy, expensive new study called “Oceans of Abundance.”
There went my attempted good humor. The study, I'm afraid, is one more collective wailing about overfishing that fails to define the difference between huge industrial hauls and family-level recreational angling.
The result supports a continuing push for total-no-take zones, even where non-commercial fishing is no factor. This intentional blurring of the line between uses also leads to such silliness as the recent grouper closure plans (see floridasportsman.com for the latest machinations.)
You'll see slick thinktank proposals for “Catch Shares” that some want to extend to personal-use fishing. So we fired off the following letter to former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and his well-meaning but myopic team:
Re: Oceans of Abundance
Dear Secretary Babbitt and Associates,
As founder of Florida Sportsman magazine and a dedicated marine conservationist for 40 years, I have seen well-meaning citizens attempt to confront the world's horrendous commercial overfishing while embracing a faulty notion that non-commercial family-level fishing is a cause of the problem. This misunderstanding alienates sportfishing conservation interests and is a huge disservice.
The truth is that regulated non-commercial fishing causes little or no depletion of stocks, and sportsmen are your best allies, except when they are falsely accused as so often happens in the Marine Protected Area (MPA) promotions.
It would help a great deal if you would at least recognize the many outstanding successesin fish management based on sustainable limits without market pressures. When recreational fishing poses no part of overfishing, why must you imply that it is guilty?
Please, think or learn of the amazing successes involving well-regulated species, of land animals as well as fish, such as largemouth bass, crappies, trout, striped bass, red drum, white seabass, snook, sailfish, marlin, elk, deer, wild turkeys, ducks…and so many more.
By misrepresenting the causes of depletions to include family-level activity, you are playing into the hands of extremists who want to eliminate our great heritage of outdoors activity. May I hear from you?
CELEBRATING FLORIDA SPORTSMAN'S 40TH
We're noting Florida Sportsman's 40th through the issues of '09, and you'll see a few changes in typefaces and content placements. But basically it's the same character that so many of you grew up with.
It's been quite a trip. I can't commend our staffers enough for their dedication to journalistic integrity and standards of excellence.
And, of course, none of it would be possible without the loyalty and appreciation of the Florida Sportsman audience. Our warmest thanks to all.