What Happened to Our Fish?

Photo credit to: Thomas Hearring III and 7 year old Thomas Hearring IV of Tiki Island, Texas.

Attacking Family Values – for Money

An educational series for Coastal Anglers

Today’s families are vastly different than years ago. Even sitting together for family meals has become infrequent or rushed. The family dinner where parents engage children in conversation and instill the family’s values occurs only infrequently in many families.

Schedules are hectic with children often being raised by parental time-sharing. Even where both parents are under the same roof – today’s economy calls often for long hours, thus still an absent parent. Family dinner time is frequently sacrificed. Filling the void are hundreds of television channels and the internet . . .which influence our children as never before. Even cautious families are constantly fighting the invisible magnetism of internet information that steadily infiltrates our homes.

Fortunately for many, one thing hasn’t changed. Kids still anticipate the weekend and a chance to go fishing. For the parents, this creates an increasingly important opportunity to pass along a family heritage. This is “real time” with Dad and Mom – focused time. It is a final bastion of uninterrupted family communications and provides a shared joy of accomplishment, experienced together, every time a prize is reeled in. Some would call this “old fashioned quality family time”. Along with the excursion comes solid conversations, not only during the actual day, but even as the trip is planned and the parent and child participate together in its preparations – building excitement for the upcoming fishing day.

These one-on-one days open a myriad of opportunities to “just talk”. They allow parent-child interaction that has too often become lost — with the television and the internet totally uninvolved for the day!

Time with our children is precious and critically important. Fishing presents an attraction so strong that kids actually shut down their PC’s and video games. They want to go fishing!

But . . . an attack threatens this remaining opportunity for one-on-one, parent-child family time. For-profit corporations are actively attempting to minimize your family’s fishing rights in a selfish monetary pursuit. They want to take away your access to fish so as to leave more harvest from the publicly-owned fishery for themselves. Today’s attack is focused on squeezing recreational family fishing to expand their profits.

These corporations, namely commercial fishing corporations and federal for-hire charter fishing boat operators, are pouring a seemingly endless stream of money into political campaigns, lobbyists, and frivolous litigation. Their objective is to dominate, for themselves, the harvest of the publicly-owned fishery resources in federal waters. By minimizing the recreational family fishermen’s access to the fishery, it leaves more for them – all to maximize their profits!

It is critically important for families, recreational fishermen, fishing guides, non-federal charter boat operators, and the businesses that depend upon these groups to unite in efforts to protect access for families to fish.

Principally, two organizations support the for-profit corporations in their efforts to minimize or drive recreational fishing out of existence in order to capture the full harvest of the publics’ fishery resources for themselves. They want preferential access to harvest and sell the public’s resource or, even more lusciously, to sell their preferential access without ever going fishing — all for their personal profits. The organizations are named innocuously to create confusion; the “Environmental Defense Fund” and the “Ocean Conservancy”. They extend their tentacles by supporting front groups with names like “The Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance” and the “Charter Fishermen’s Association”. They use their monetary resources to thwart efforts to improve the public’s access to its own fisheries resources though aggressive litigation and financial contributions to “influence” politicians, elections and political appointments which further their objectives.

On the positive and hopeful side, however, are bills presently in both chambers of Congress to establish fairness and equity in fisheries management. These could level the playing field for family and recreational fishermen. Accordingly, they are VERY important.

The U.S. House of Representatives bill, #HR2023, is termed to as the “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017“ or more commonly the “Modern Fish Act”. We appreciate that it has bi-partisan co-sponsorship by Representatives Garret Graves (R-La), Gene Green (D–Tx), Daniel Webster (R-Fl), and Rob Whittman (R–Va).

In the Senate, the bill is called the same and also bi-partisan; it is co-sponsored by Senators Roger Wicker (R–Miss), Bill Nelson (D–Fl), Brian Schatz (R–Hawaii), John Kennedy (R–La) and Joe Manchin (D–W. Va).
If your Congressman or Senator is not co-sponsoring this protection for the fishing rights of families, they need to hear from you. Call and ask them why not. Only your phone call can make a difference. Keep your eye on the prize – that fish at the end of the line on your child’s rod. And someday, your grandchild’s rod. Make the call.

Learn more by following the newsfeed and join the conversation on Facebook at WhatHappenedToOurFish? You can also email RecreationalFishermen@gmail.com.