Tuesday, December 29, 2009
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- In one week, there will be no more fishing for red snapper off the Southeast Atlantic coast. Already, those invested in the fishing industry are making changes to their businesses.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
It’s been a long time coming, but it appears as if a critical number of fishermen have finally reached the conclusion that the way things are heading, there’s not going to be an acceptable fishing future for any of us, that it’s time for some long overdue changes, and that the place to effect those changes is in Congress.
OCEAN CITY -- A few days ago, a bit of news came across my desk that was so shocking that I first assumed it had to be a fake. I spent a lot of time surfing different sites to make sure that what I was reading was true. Unfortunately, the story checked out.
Governor Crist supports the Council's efforts to protect our precious natural resources; however, the Governor believes this action will have serious ramifications for Florida's recreational anglers and our economy. The requirement to establish strict catch limits for all federally managed species that are undergoing "overfishing" by 2010 is affecting Florida in ways that were not anticipated. A closure effectively puts Florida's fishermen out of work in an already challenging economic time and would severely diminish the multi-million dollar annual contribution the South Atlantic fishery makes to Florida's economy.
Governor Crist has contacted Charles Davis, Chairman of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to encourage a prompt review of the science used to validate the Council's decisions in the fishery management process. The Governor also contacted U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and asked that the Department do everything possible to lessen the impact on Florida's anglers while still protecting our natural resources.
Rest assured, Governor Crist is committed to ensuring that necessary steps are taken to rebuild fish population in all waters adjacent to Florida, but firmly believes that a fishery-wide closure must be a last resort only after all other options have been exhausted.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact Governor Crist. Please do not hesitate to write again to share your concerns and ideas about issues that are important to you.
Office of Citizen Services
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Transferable Rights of Recreational Fishery: An Application to Red Snapper Fishery in the Gulf of Mexico
Transferable Rights of Recreational Fishery: An Application to Red Snapper Fishery in the Gulf of Mexico -
I read your article yesterday in the Chronicle regarding the upcoming Catch Shares fiasco. There are some issues I would like to address;
1) Catch shares have already been in utilized in the Gulf FOR 3 YEARS NOW through the IFQ program which did away with the 10 day seasons/trip limits and replaced those with an allocation of the quota...the commercial snapper fishermen have not been "competing in derby-style openings" since January 1, 2007. The push underway CURRENTLY is to expand the Catch Share concept into the RECREATIONAL sector which, in my opinion will drastically change our fishing rights and heritage. I don't want to have to go to Walmart to purchase tags (at unknown prices) for each fish that I or my son intend to catch. These fish belong to EVERY American and should NOT be put on the auction block to the highest bidder. Additionally, since this concept is being pushed by well-funded environment.orgs such as EDF and others, there is the possibility that the shares would be bought by these green groups and not used at all. The average-Joe fishermen wouldn't stand a chance in competing at the auction block for these shares.
2) The Catch Shares concept revolves around the privatization of a public resource which could then be traded and sold as commodities, an ideology pushed hard by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). Lubchenco resigned as vice chairman of EDF — known for its penchant for merging investment and environmental principles — to become President Obama's nomination to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Once confirmed by the Senate, she unfurled her commitment to catch shares and drafted Monica Medina, a former NOAA chief counsel in the Clinton administration,from the Pew Environment Group to organize a national catch share taskforce. Its final report is on Lubchenco's desk. It seems the green environmental.org (EDF) has infiltrated the federal government to the highest levels to force their view of the world upon the rest of us.
3) Given our nation's recent disastrous experience with the unintended and negative consequences of deregulation and poor oversight of financial and real estate markets, I do not trust our federal government to introduce this concept into the fisheries, especially when it is not needed. There has been an 18% drop in saltwater fishing participation in the years 1996 to 2006, with a 15% decline from 2001 to 2006. This shows a steep downward trend in participation in the latter half of that 10 year span. This SHARPLY contradicts what the NMFS claims to be happening, especially since they have cut the snapper season by 2/3, cut our limits in half, and forbid captain/crew from retaining fish since this report. The NMFS wants you to believe that there has been a 300% INCREASE IN EFFORT in 2008 and 2009 according to THEIR figures that shows that recreational anglers caught over 4 million pounds of snapper. Makes you wonder why there is such a strong push for Catch Shares and/or Sector Separation when there is clearly no need. http://www.census.gov/prod/2008pubs/fhw06-nat.pdf
4) This a "paradigm shift" in the approach to managing the bounty of the sea, is being pushed by EDF-affiliated financial advisers with ties to Milken and Lehman Brothers - 2 of the most notable names related to failed financial schemes. Incredibly, people are actually listening to them; "Two months before the Environmental Defense Fund achieved a political policy triumph with the vote last week to transform the New England groundfishery from a commonly held resource into negotiable commodities, a bullish EDF executive was urging institutional investors to buy these catch shares. EDF vice president David Festa's projection was a 400 percent return on the investment, based on what he said was recent experiences with the imposition of catch shares in other fisheries. A consultant to EDF spoke of returns of 10 or even 20 times investment. "It's not telecom money, but it's real money," Festa advised a small but influential private audience of mutual and hedge fund managers and ENGO —or environmental non-government organization — officials at an April 28 panel on "Innovative Funding for Sustainable Fisheries and Oceans." The panel was part of the 2009 Milken Institute Global Conference in LosAngeles, "the largest gathering of capital markets in North America..." You can read the whole story here; http://www.gloucestertimes.com/punews/local_story_181090419.html
5) Currently, the Gulf snapper quota is divided into 51% commercial and 49% recreational portions. There is a plan on the table to be addressed by the regulators in early 2010 called the "SOS Plan", which is again being pushed by EDF to carve out a 57% portion of the recreational quota and gift it to the charter-for-hire industry. The SOS Plan would reduce the CFH sector by eliminating most of the part-time charter operators. The plan would introduce Catch Shares into the recreational sector and severely restrict access to the fishery to private recreational fishermen,which would then be limited to 21% of the total Gulf quota even though they are the majority stakeholder in the fishery. This has HUGE economic consequences which have not been addressed at all.
6) Federal regulators are citing the Magnuson-Stevens Act as reason for pushing Annual Catch Limits and Accountability Measures even though the same MSA has mandated implementation of a better data collection system PRIOR to such action. The NMFS has thumbed its nose at Congress by ignoring this Congressional mandate even though it was required to be in place by January 1, 2009. Congress understood the importance of upgrading the existing MFRSS system (which data has been proven to be fatally flawed), PRIOR to implementing any new Annual Catch Limits or Accountability Measures such as Catch Shares. It is negligence to the highest degree to continue to use outdated data collection methods, especially when directed by Congress to CEASE DOING SO, and it is my belief that this is Contempt of Congress and should be prosecuted accordingly.
7) Lastly, going back to the existing IFQ program in the Gulf, the federal government "gifted" a portion of our public resource (Red Snapper) to a small group of commercial fishermen. This gift is now worth millions of dollars to some of the lucky recipients. I recently talked to one commercial IFQ holder and asked him how much would he take for his IFQ quota - his answer? He wouldn't take even $10 million dollars! I then asked him how much he paid for those IFQ shares - his answer? "Thirty five years of my life!" In other words, he paid $0 for this gift, yet we all somehow owe him "reparations", "welfare money" or "bailout$$" due to his decision to work as a commercial snapper fisherman. This fisherman can now sit on his rear and "lease access to the resource" to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, personally profiting substantially from the government action, while not contributing a thing to the NGP other than driving the price of fish to the consumer higher and higher.
This is the real story Mr. Tresaugue. There is a LOT of money to be made on the converting the wild harvest of our fisheries into negotiable catch shares, creating a fish futures commodity market, and will forever change fishing that I, and my children, will know it.
We are leading an effort here in Texas to develop our own sustainable fishery in Texas State Waters working in partnership with TPWD. Texas State Waters are not subject ot federal regulations, and TPWD has proven to ably manage our wildlife resources infinitely better than the NMFS.
You can read more about it at www.Reef-Man.com.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Recreational Fishing Alliance
To millions of Americans it’s the ability to go to the beach or get on a boat, enjoy a day on the water and maybe keep a few fish for the table within the limits of current regulations. What makes fishing such a universal pastime is its availability to everyone regardless of age, race and wealth, but open access is being challenged from a very unlikely source.
At the April meeting of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, Dr. Russell Nelson, on behalf of the Coastal Conservation Association, presented a paper outlining a new scheme for managing fisheries that, if put into practice, would change recreational fishing into something unrecognizable. It is an attempt to bring recreational fishermen into a system that the Environmental Defense Fund calls “catch shares” and federal fishery managers call Individual Fishing Quotas (IFQs).
After reading this paper I was struck by the realization that there are some among us who believe recreational anglers aren’t already paying enough for the “privilege” of fishing. In case you’re not keeping score we’re already required to purchase a saltwater fishing license and if you’re a nonresident the fees are becoming usurious. We not only pay sales tax on every piece of tackle we purchase, we also pay a 10-percent excise tax that goes to the Wallop-Breaux Fund. If you purchase fuel for your boat at a marina or other waterfront location you pay an 18.5-percent federal excise tax on that, too. As a group, anglers pay hundreds of millions of dollars each year in user fees and special taxes to support conservation, management, enforcement, restoration and access projects…but apparently that’s not enough.
Under this proposal recreational anglers would be required to enter a competitive bidding process for the opportunity to purchase tags for the fish they want to catch. Tag auctions will be open to anyone – commercial and recreational harvesters, fish brokers, environmental groups – and the tags would be sold to the highest bidders. According to the paper, tag holders can take the fish home and eat it, give them as Christmas presents, or take their fish to a market, effectively wiping out the distinction between the commercial and recreational sector. The proceeds from the auction would be earmarked for management and enforcement because, obviously, we aren’t paying enough already.
The paper, titled A Free Market Based Approach to Managing Red Snapper and Other Marine Fishes, provides a framework that limits access to only those with the time to enter the auction and the financial means to make a high enough bid to obtain tags. In case you’re wondering how much that might be, since the quota system was introduced the price that commercial anglers get for red snapper has increased from $2.75 per pound to over $4 per pound, while the National Marine Fisheries Service reports IFQ shares selling for between $10 and $20 per pound.
This paper was presented as a formal response to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s question “Is there a better way to manage U.S. shared commercial and recreational fisheries?” The formula it contains goes against the very grain of what sport fishing has been and most anglers hope it will be in the future. While there are provisions in the MSA reauthorization that have caused significant socioeconomic harm to recreational fisheries, the law has and can continue to work in the future by addressing those provisions.
In a recent press release the RFA called the scheme the “pay to play” version of fisheries management. In many ways it mirrors a management approach being espoused by the Environmental Defense Fund and other Pew Charitable Trust funded organizations, yet the paper claims this program “is simple and arguably the most fair and equitable approach.” The operative word is “arguably” because the fairness is an illusion where recreational fishermen are concerned!
“With the changes to the MSA endorsed by the RFA and found in proposed legislation currently introduced in Congress the MSA can not only rebuild fisheries but provide for equitable distribution of allowable harvest,” said Jim Donofrio, RFA Executive Director.
“Most of the problems currently encountered by managers are the result of arbitrary rebuilding deadlines and a lack of flexibility as dictated in the most recent reauthorization,” Donofrio explained, adding “with these corrections we can continue to see stocks increase, as Gulf of Mexico red snapper have in recent years, without losing the open access process that has been inherent in recreational fishing.”
Thursday, December 17, 2009
National fishermen's protest set for Feb. 24By Richard Gaines
The date of a national demonstration by fishing interests in Washington, D.C., has been set for Wednesday, Feb. 24.
Originally scheduled for Feb. 17, the announcement of the changed date was made Monday by the Conservation Cooperative of Gulf Fishermen, one of the organizers of the event.
CCGF spokesman Capt. Bob Zales said the change was made because Feb. 17 was discovered to fall during a congressional recess.
The protest has drawn national interest. Along with Zales' organization, the Recreational Fishing Alliance, an umbrella group representing states' recreational fishing organizations, United Boatsmen of New York and New Jersey as well as the organizers of the commercial fishermen's protest held in Gloucester in October at the regional offices of the National Marine Fisheries Service are expected to attend.
The target of the protest is Congress at a time when efforts are under way to modify the reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Act to allow more flexibility in the setting of rebuilding deadlines for overfished stocks. In its reauthorization in 2006, Congress required most stocks to be restored by 2014.
Congressman Barney Frank, whose House district includes New Bedford, has scheduled a caucus of East Coast congressmen and -women for tomorrow to consider how best to proceed.
Frank voted against the Magnuson-Stevens' reauthorization, which among things, shifted the authority to establish maximum allowable catches from the regional management councils, made up of gubernatorial appointees and statutory members, to their science and statistical committees.
In practice, the shift of authority has produced more conservative catch limits, according to Frank and industry figures. And Frank has questioned the wisdom of such rigid deadlines for the completion of rebuilding programs.
"The protest is about flexibility and upholding National Standard 8," said Amanda Odlin, who, with her husband owns and operates two commercial boats out of Boston. Odlin was the lead organizer of the protest that, in October, drew more than 300 fishermen and their supporters to NMFS' regional offices in Gloucester's Blackburn Industrial Park.
The Magnuson-Stevens Act contains 10 national standards or goals.
The text makes clear that rebuilding takes precedence.
But Standard No. 8 states that "conservation and management measures shall, consistent with the conservation requirements of this Act — including the prevention of overfishing and rebuilding of overfished stocks — take into account the importance of fishery resources to fishing communities in order to provide for the sustained participation of such communities, and to the extent practicable, minimize adverse economic impacts."
That economic impact is being raised by a number of fishing industry backers, and fishing community leaders.
"The overly restrictive management requirements created by the reauthorized Magnuson Act based on non-scientific arbitrary deadlines are forcing anglers off the water, eliminating commercial fishing, preventing consumers from purchasing locally caught fresh seafood, destroying small family businesses, increasing unemployment and adversely affecting coastal communities," Zales wrote in his announcement of the change in the demonstration date.
Along with Frank, U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe has also initiated action to free up more fish for New England's commercial fleet. The Maine Republican's approach is legislation to recognize that a U.S.-Canadian management arrangement along the ocean border through Georges Bank is an "agreement," a structure with higher legal impact than the current "understanding," and in the process exempts the effort from Magnuson-Stevens
The impact of that measure would be to allow more yellowtail flounder caught on the U.S. side of the boundary.
Losses from the more conservative catch limits on yellowtail flounder have been projected to reach $100 million because the control of yellowtail by the New England Fishery Management Council also indirectly limits the harvest of scallops, the premier cash stock that yellowtail lives among on the ocean floor.
Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3464, or via em-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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PEW is pushing in favor of this proposed 35year closure on both red snapper and shallow water grouper in the southern atlantic (South ...
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Dec 15, 2009 ... "The current management of red snapper in the South Atlantic and Gulf ... to greater populations of red snapper, the Pew letter calls these ...
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Dec 4, 2009 ... Most red snapper are caught by sportsmen, government regulators say. ... An endorsement of the ban came quickly Thursday from the Pew ...
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Dec 16, 2009 ... Red snapper in the Southeast is said to have been overfished since ... There is no magic answer for red snapper and other fish in trouble ...
Sunday, December 13, 2009
A reduction in sea scallop landings of thirty percent. A total closure of the Gulf of Mexico recreational amberjack fishery. A reduction in spiny dogfish landings of twenty-five percent. A total seasonal closure of the recreational sea bass fishery in the Northeast. A total closure of the red snapper fishery in federal waters from Florida to North Carolina. Recreational summer flounder restrictions that have decimated the for-hire fleet. Massive West coast rockfish closures based on less than adequate science. A looming lobster bait crisis stemming from a massive though biologically unnecessary reduction in herring landings. One hundred and thirty thousand tons of uncaught groundfish TAC. A labyrinth of MPAs off California established wherever catchable fish are found. And the list could go on, and on, and on….
Saturday, December 12, 2009
From: Gulf Council Press Release
Subject: Gulf Council Press Release: NOAA News Release - Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Recovering
To: "Gulf Council Press Release Mailing List"
Date: Friday, December 11, 2009, 2:29 PM
Contact: Kim Amendola FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
727- 551-5707 December 11, 2009
Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Recovering
Science-based management has helped end overfishing for iconic fish
A recent scientific update on Gulf of Mexico red snapper shows that fishermen may be able to catch more fish next year. This news shows that when fishermen follow management measures based on science, they lead to rebuilding of fish populations and increased opportunities to fish.
“The update showed harvest levels were still a bit too high in 2008; however, scientific projections are promising for 2009, indicating that the stock may improve enough to support higher harvest levels,” said Dr. Bonnie Ponwith, Southeast Fisheries Science Center director for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “This is very exciting news and is evidence of how science and management can work together to protect our natural resources.”
Historical records indicate fishermen have targeted red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico since the late 1800s as a subsistence fishery. However, fishing pressure became too great throughout the mid-1900s as coastal populations increased and saltwater sport fishing became more popular. Heavy fishing since then brought this population to a level that could not be sustained or reproduce as much as it could.
In response to the poor condition of this once prolific population, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council began to address the issues in the mid-1980s. The actions taken by the council have ranged in variety and degree, from adjusting recreational size limits to implementing a catch share program for commercial fishermen in 2007.
“This has been our most challenging fishery issue in the Gulf of Mexico to date,” said Dr. Roy Crabtree, southeast regional administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “The Gulf Council deserves a lot of credit for making some very difficult decisions and commercial and recreational fishermen deserve equal credit for complying with the regulations to help this species recover.”
The red snapper population is still a long way from making a full recovery, but reducing fishing pressure has expedited the recovery process and continues to provide long-term benefits to the fish, as well as to those dependent upon it for business and recreation. As the species’ condition continues to improve, fishermen are reporting red snapper in areas where they haven’t been seen in many years, such as off of Tampa Bay, Fla., and southward.
The scientific update was completed by a panel of experts selected by the Gulf Council and comprised of academic, state, and federal scientists. This panel presented their results to the Gulf Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee in early December.
The Gulf Council may review this information at their next meeting in February in Mobile, Ala., and make a recommendation to NOAA’s Fisheries Service to increase the current red snapper catch levels. The update suggests the current catch level can be increased from five million pounds to slightly more than 6.9 million pounds.
While this is good news, an increase to the total allowable catches may not support an increase to the length of the recreational fishing season. Preliminary data indicate the recreational fishery exceeded its annual quota by more than one million pounds in 2009. Any decision regarding the length of the 2010 recreational fishing season will need to take into account final information on the extent of that overage. NOAA's Fisheries Service will determine the length of the recreational season early next year; however, the season will begin on June 1.
NOAA is committed to responding as quickly as possible to any Gulf Council proposals to reward fishermen for their sacrifice while ensuring continued success in rebuilding this population.
It is important to note that red snapper are managed separately in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida’s east coast). Earlier this month, NOAA’s Fisheries Service announced a temporary rule to protect red snapper in the South Atlantic as its population is in poor condition, much like the Gulf of Mexico population once was. The temporary measures for the South Atlantic become effective on Jan. 4, 2010, and will not apply in Gulf of Mexico waters.
NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. Visit http://www.noaa.gov.
FISHERMEN TO MARCH ON WASHINGTON, DC
For Immediate Release, December 10, 2009:
Recreational and commercial fishermen, support business owners, families, and community leaders will gather at the steps of our Nation’s Capitol on February 17, 2010 from noon to 3 PM to show congress a united front of the impacts caused by the unintended impacts of the Magnuson Stevens Conservation and Management Act as revised effective January, 2007 (RMSA). The overly restrictive management requirements created by the RMSA based on non scientific arbitrary deadlines are forcing anglers off the water, eliminating commercial fishing, preventing consumers from purchasing locally caught fresh seafood, destroying small family businesses, increasing unemployment, and adversely affecting coastal communities.
We fully support real science based management and the conservation of our marine resources while also being able to sustain recreational and commercial fishing activities, providing locally caught seafood, sustaining small family businesses, and supporting our coastal communities. Please stay tuned as the details are being developed and will be provided. Make your plans to join us for this historic event and work with us in a United effort from coast to coast.
UNITED WE FISH and FISHING MATTERS
CCGF urges all elected officials to work together and to join the efforts by the leaders of other coastal states for the best interests of our coastal communities and the Nation.
This effort is being coordinated by many organizations and individuals including but not limited to CCGF, RFA, FRA, United Boatmen of New York, United Boatmen of New Jersey, MSSA and more to be announced.
CCGF is a 501(c) (6) non profit that represents recreational for-hire vessel owners and operators, supporting businesses, and recreational anglers from the Gulf of Mexico
Capt. Bob Zales, II
bus. ph 850-763-7249
"The charm of fishing is that, it is the pursuit of
what is elusive, but attainable; a perpetual
series of occasions for hope."
quote on a wall of a ladies clothing store in Islamorada, FL.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Link to video.
A group suing to stop a federal ban on red snapper fishing will use testimony from Northeast Florida’s fishing industry to help make its case.
Business owners from the Jacksonville area, Cape Canaveral and elsewhere are being asked this week for affidavits describing how the six-month ban scheduled to start Jan. 4 will hurt them, said David Heil, a lawyer representing the Recreational Fishing Alliance.The New Jersey-based group filed a complaint in Jacksonville federal court Friday, asking for an injunction to keep the National Marine Fisheries Service from carrying out the ban announced last week. That would be followed by a lawsuit over whether the ban was justified
Read more here.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Obama Administration ignores $125 billion sportfishing industry in new ocean and Great Lakes management policy
Sunday, December 6, 2009
The Recreational Fishing Alliance wasted no time in mounting a legal challenge to an interim red snapper closure, announced Thursday by the federal government and entered into the Federal Registry on Friday. Read more.
Red snapper assessment suggests overfishing is ending in Gulf of Mexico
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Frank eyes federal 'caucus' to revise fishing law
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Thank you Mayor and Council!
In January 2007, President Bush signed into law the reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery and Conservation and Management Act. Among many new requirements, the act established new regulatory mandates based on a required timeline. Congress mandated that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) implement an improved Marine Recreational Fishing Statistical Survey by January 2009; they also mandated that the NMFS stop over fishing of all fish species undergoing over fishing by 2010 and all other fisheries undergoing over fishing by 2011.
The NMFS has failed to comply with the mandate for an improved MRFSS data system by January 2009 and still does not have an improved recreational data system. However, the NMFS is working to comply with the mandate for stopping overfishing of all fish species by 2010—without an improved data system. The unintended impacts of the Congressional mandates has caused severe economic and social harm to small family fishing businesses, anglers, support businesses, local fishing communities, and the coastal states. In the
Obviously, this is going to devastate the City of Mexico Beach and our local economy.
This is why we need your help. Please contact your State representatives (even if you don’t live in
“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the reef fish fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic shall not be required to be rebuilt, and over-fishing ended, by a specific date provided that the annual level of fishing does not exceed the net reproduction rate for that fishery such that the fishery is rebuilding each year. If the objective set forth in this section is not met for any of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic reef fish fisheries in one year, the Secretary of Commerce shall adjust the fishing rate in that specific fishery in subsequent years to compensate for any overage.”
If you are interested in remaining informed on this issue, the following website has been created for that purpose: www.unitedwefish.blogspot.com . Thank you in advance for your support regarding this issue!
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Interesting views and comments posted here about Pew Charitable Trusts.