Friday, January 29, 2010

For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator George LeMieux (R-FL) today urged his colleagues to amend federal law to allow for more flexible and science-based timelines for fisheries closures in an effort to reduce the negative economic impacts felt by the recreational fishing industry. The effort that Senator LeMieux publicly endorsed on Thursday requires fisheries rebuilding to be completed on a timeline that allows fish stocks to recover without unnecessarily harming the livelihood of recreational fishermen and the fishing industry in general.

“Fishing communities are losing millions of dollars each year because of rigid laws requiring the closure of entire fisheries for extended periods of time – regardless of whether the fish stock has recovered,” LeMieux said. “Basing closure decisions on sound science and environmental conditions will ensure that fisheries are rebuilt in a way that helps to keep fishing communities economically viable, without compromising the goal of protecting fish stocks.”

Senate bill 1255, the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act authored by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), will amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act to allow fishery management plan managers to specify a time period for rebuilding fisheries that is both practical and efficient. The bill maintains the requirement that overfishing be ended within one year but it gives regulators the option of allowing fishing for strong species in a fishery that is currently barred to protect the weakest stock.

Summary of S.1225

Amends the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to allow fishery management plans the flexibility to specify a time period for rebuilding the fishery that is as short as practicable.
Maintains the requirement that overfishing be ended within one year.

Allows exceptions to the requirement that fisheries be rebuilt in ten years based on the biology of the stock of fish or other environmental conditions.

Gives regulators the option of allowing fishing for strong species in a fishery that is now barred to protect the weakest stock.

Allows exemptions to the requirement that fisheries be rebuilt in ten years when the rebuilding program cannot be effective only by limiting fishing activities or when such exemptions will minimize the economic impacts on fishing communities.

Obama admin proposes major spending for fishery cap-and-trade plan

New York Times
Published: May 11, 200

The Obama administration is proposing significant new spending on a proposed cap-and-trade regulatory scheme for fisheries -- a major overhaul in fishery management and a bid to halt the decline of wild fish stocks.

In its fiscal 2010 budget request, the administration is asking for $18.6 million for "catch-share programs."

Read more.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Catching Your Share

January 25, 2010

Have you ever been deep sea fishing? Until last summer, I hadn’t. Which is rather surprising, since I grew up here on the Gulf Coast and spent most of my impressionable days on the deck of one boat or another. It was a warm day in late May. The first few catches were decent B-liners (Vermillion Snapper). The next week Red Snapper season opened and I’m still not sure who was more hooked, me or the fish. The fight at the bottom of the line made dinner taste that much better. I’m not alone. Offshore fishing is big business.

Read more

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bob Jones Commentary

The frustration toward government manifested itself yesterday in Massachusetts and sent a message we have pushed for a long, long time. There wasn't one simple issue that swept the rug clean, and it wasn't necessarily democrat versus republican because Senator Brown never used republican on his literature or on his bus driven around the state. He didn’t even mention republican in his acceptance speech that I could tell. He spoke to the independents and it was the independent voters who elected him a US Senator. The voters don’t like many of the administration's policies ranging from health reform to global warming to handling of terrorists and maybe even the fishing mess in Massachusetts.

There were thousands of fishermen and fishing businesses totally disenchanted with what NOAA/NMFS has done to them for several decades. There have been outrageous, almost punitive actions by NOAA/NMFS and the New England Fishery Management Council on scallops in particular and minimal fishing days and fewer opportunities in general. I won't make their arguments; I'll leave that to the New Englanders.

In our world here in Florida we are very frustrated with government because of the actions taken against us by NOAA/NMFS, especially in the current red snapper/grouper controversy. The issue boiled down to a "them vs. us" and they pulled out all stops to make sure “they” won when they banned red snapper fishing. They might feel they taught the fishermen a lesson through heavy-handed fish politics but all they did was strengthen our resolve. The sad part of this situation is we have always called for honest science and nothing more. We have shown the flaws in the science NMFS and the South Atlantic Council used to force their will on us. When we hired Dr. Frank Hester, a world-class certified marine scientist, he was called a charlatan by a NOAA/NMFS scientist for questioning NMFS computer models, assumptions and lack of data in the 1940’s on which they made important stock assessment decisions.

These thoughts ran through my mind last night as I was trying to sleep and I wanted to share them with you because we have known each other so long. I mentioned to you earlier that NOAA/NMFS actions chased me from the Democratic Party to the Independent Party. Maybe the frustrations I had is portend of things to come.

What will it take to get Congress interested in what the agency has done to us, is currently doing to us and wants to do to us in the future? When will the agency let us see through the dark glass barricade?

There is a big story here but we can’t seem to get traction because of the power of the agencies that need the oversight.

Sincerely yours,

Bob Jones
Southeastern Fisheries Association Inc

Thanks U.S. Senator LeMieux

ESPN - RFA pushes for flexibility bill

Action hoped to aid recreational anglers, those dependent on fishing for livelihood

While some in the fishing industry advocate a more measured and diplomatic approach to a federal management strategy that is closing ocean fisheries to both sports anglers and commercials, the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) is coming out with both guns blazing.

"Management has been a mix of policy based on emotions and agendas based on politics, with a little science," said Jim Donofrio, RFA's executive director. "This needs to be fixed."

Read more.

National Association of Charterboat Operators Endorsement

Dear NACO Member,

Your board voted at the annual meeting to fully support the march on Washington February 24, 2010. Below is information related to this march and a place to sign a petition supporting the flexibility. Please join with us to tell Congress they have to make changes NOW.

As we are sure you are well aware, the Magnuson Stevens Act and subsequent NMFS restrictions have had a crippling impact on both the recreational and commercial fishing industries and are in dire need of revision. On February 24, 2010, a united gathering of recreational and commercial fishermen and fishermen's associations-United We Fish- is scheduled on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington DC, to rally support for an amendment to the Magnuson/Stevens legislation through the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act of 2009.

We realize it's a long way to DC, but it is vital to America's fishing industry that this Act gets passed and that our legislators know how much support is behind it. Please consider helping to make this event more widely known by promoting it to your members and the wider public and help ensure the future of recreational fishing for current and future generations. For more information, please visit:

Please consider writing and encouraging members to write to their Congressional representatives in support of the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act. It is in need of support in both the House and the Senate. They can also sign this petition that will be presented to Congressmen and women at the rally on Feb 24th :

Please pass this information on to other people and groups who will be affected by this legislation.

Keeping You Informed
National Association of Charterboat Operators

Friday, January 22, 2010

Update On DC March

Here is the summary from the conference call we had on Wed. Sorry for the delay. For those who have web sites where the United We Fish is listed I will have more info you about the issue of UWF being trademarked and what to list on your site. The owner is being cooperative about this and we will be able to continue using UWF as none of us are attempting to profit from it's use.

Information on bus parking will be provide shortly as we are waiting on info from Jim Donofrio. Info on the issues we are supporting and pushing will also be provided soon.



TO: Jeff Deem, Jim Hull, Mitch Roffer, Dennis O’Hern, Maggie Raymond, Bob Jones, Jim Bussey, Bob Zales, Bob Spaeth, Rusty Hudson, Adam Nowalsky, Dave Heil, Pam Anderson, Nils Stolpe, Greg DiDomenico, Dave Smith, Tony Bogan, Capt. Mark Brown, Ray Bogan,, Jeff Reichle,Wes Covington

FROM: Jim Donofrio

RE: March on DC Organizers Conference Call (Organizers)

DATE: January 21, 2010

Setup – Jim Donofrio has been in contact with CSI, a DC based event coordinating firm. Through this group, an 18’ x 26’ stage, 20 chairs, sound system, and diesel generator has been rented for the rally. CSI will begin setup at approximately 8am and should have it completed by 11am. Capitol Hill Police indicated that the Area 1, the original rally location, is being reseeded and this will require the location of the rally be moved to Area 2, Upper Senate Park. This location is on the west side of the US Capitol. Jim is also working with CSI to have a banner made for use during the rally. Total cost is $11,750.35. (A separate request has been emailed to all Organizers to help defray the cost of the system.)

Banners/Flags -- As indicated by Jim Donofrio, a large banner will made for the rally with the slogan, United We Fish™. RFA has a limited agreement with the owner of United We Fish™. to use the slogan for this one time “for the purpose of marketing and promoting” the rally in DC on 2/24/2010. We ask that Organizers pass along to groups that United We Fish™ is trademarked by another party, and that the slogan not be used on any shirts, signs, stickers, or other tangible items without first contacting that party.

Jim Donofrio has purchased 250 ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ Gadsden Flags which he will hand out at the rally. The Capitol Hill Police have very specific rules about signs. All supports for signs must not exceed three quarters (¾) of an inch at their largest point, have dull ends, and made entirely of wood. There can be no nails, screws, or bolt-type fastening devices protruding from the wooden supports. These items may not be used to offer any item for sale, to solicit contributions or contain any form of advertising.

Any display of signs, banners, placards, and related items is strictly prohibited inside all Capitol Buildings so signs must be taken care of proper if you intend to meet with members of Congress. Jim Donofrio suggested that any signs have their city and state listed so legislators can identify that their constituents are represented in the crowd.

Buses – For those attending that will be arriving by bus, it will be necessary to direct the buses to let you off at Union Station. As for parking, Jim will contact a local bus company to inquire about offsite parking and get back to everyone. Current estimates indicate that at least 12 buses are confirmed coming from the New Jersey New York area with additional buses expected to come from Virginia and Maryland. Union Station is a few blocks to the northwest of the US Capitol and the rally area.

The following link is to a map of the area, The rally will take place at Area 2 (Upper Senate Park) on the map. We are informed that bathrooms are close to this area.

Letters of Invitations – Several legislators have already confirmed their attendance at the rally. Senators Schumer and Lemieux will be on stage at 12pm but will need to leave around 1pm for a Leadership Lunch. Representative Pallone, sponsor of HR 1584, will also attend. The RFA is contacting several other members of congress about attending through written invitations. There are 25 cosponsors of the House bill, 7 are from Florida. The complete list can be viewed at the following list,|/bss/111search.html/ Jim Donofrio suggested that organizers review the list of cosponsors and reach out to those in their respective states. Letters should go out as soon as possible and be followed up with phone calls to the member’s scheduler.

Master of Ceremony -- Jim Donofrio suggested that Ray Bogan be designated as the emcee for the rally. Many of the organizers have worked with Ray through ICCAT, the regional councils and other fishery management forums. Ray’s family has a tremendous history in the party boat fishery and he is a practicing attorney with a great deal of experience in fisheries and maritime law. Those who have heard Ray debate fisheries issues know that he is extremely articulate and knowledgeable about fishing and our industry.

Message -- Over the coming weeks, a one page briefing paper will be distributed to Organizers. The paper will have a simple, concise message that addresses the major issues that are impacting our sport and industry. Regardless of the region or fishery, nearly all of our problems are linked to Magnuson and the need for better science. It is extremely important to have a unified, simple message when speaking to the media leading up to, during and after the rally. Pew holds significant control over the media so it will be important that we choose our words carefully or they will be used against us to minimize the importance of the rally. Issues can be discussed in greater detail with members of Congress or staff.

Bob Jones indicated that they already have talking points on the issue and may be used as a starting point. These will be circulated to those on the call. Once finalized, these bullets should also be circulated to rally attendees in advance of the rally and passed along to those coming by bus. It will be important for Organizers to stress to their groups and attendees the importance of staying on message (“more science, less arbitrary deadlines”)

Meetings – It is important to reach out members of Congress from your district or state that are not supporting the Flexibility or Red Snapper bills and try to schedule meetings around the rally as soon as possible.

Coordination – Email addresses and cell phone numbers will be distributed to everyone on the call. Nils Stolpe, Jim Hutchinson and Capt. Adam Nowalsky will spearhead a simple website initiative for the event with media & outreach information, as well as specifics for those planning to attend. United We Fish™ Network will forward all visitors to the website directly to the web address that we provide, in exchange websites of Organizers using the United We Fish™ must direct link back to, accompanied by text to read "United We Fish™ trademark is property of United We Network™” Stolpe/Hutchinson/Nowalsky will work out kinks with web address to ensure seamless process.

Capt. Bob Zales, II
bus. ph 850-763-7249
fax 850-763-3558

"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.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Snowe Blasts NOAA for Law Enforcement Miss Management

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, today blasted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the egregious mismanagement by the Office of Law Enforcement for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). According to a report released today by the U.S. Department of Commerce Inspector General, there are systemic nationwide issues adversely affecting NOAA’s ability to regulate the fishing industry. In addition, the report found that these same issues have “contributed significantly to a…dysfunctional relationship between NOAA and the fishing industry – particularly in the northeast.”

“I am appalled at the stunning breadth and depth of the Inspector General’s findings of gross mismanagement within all levels of NOAA’s law enforcement community,” said Senator Snowe. “That the Agency would allow its agents to continue running roughshod over hardworking fishermen, employing a law enforcement force consisting of 90 percent criminal investigators when the vast majority of its cases are civil in nature is by all accounts a travesty.”

“At her confirmation hearing before the Commerce Committee, Dr. Lubchenco pledged to help ‘rebuild the climate of trust’ between the National Marine Fisheries Service and our fishing communities. I understand she is directing her agency to take steps to rectify these deep flaws in its enforcement practice. I pledge to do all in my power, including pursuing legislative action, to ensure that our fishermen are treated fairly while necessary regulatory enforcement practices are carried out.”

NOAA OIG_1_21_10

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sound Science For Fisheries Management



The recent decisions to close Florida fisheries to recreational fishing fishermen are disappointing and threaten the livelihood of a great number ofFloridians. Besides the lack of sound science on which to base these decisions, closures of the South Atlantic grouper and red snapper fishery in January and the Gulf of Mexico grouper fishery in February come during
Florida's peak recreational fishing and tourism months.

These closures will add to the problems of already difficult economic times, not only for fishermen, but for those local business owners and families who depend on the recreational fishing industry and connected services for their livelihoods.

Recreational fishing is an important part of Florida's economy and a way of life for many Floridians. Recreational saltwater fishing in Florida has an economic impact exceeding $5.3 billion annually and supports more than 54,000 jobs. I understand the necessity of making tough choices in order to maintain the fishery for the benefit of future generations, but drastic
measures, such as fishery-wide closures, should be based on sound science.

The fish stock monitoring systems that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) uses to base its management decisions is antiquated. For example, one component of the monitoring system gathers data through phone calls to coastal area households. A small number of surveyors are tasked with randomly calling households hoping to find active fishermen to poll. Not only does this sampling methodology fall short of covering more than a limited number of recreational fishermen, it relies primarily on fisherman recall and a willingness to share valid data.

n 2005, Congress convened a special hearing to examine the data collection process and charged the National Research Council (NRC) with conducting an in-depth analysis of the data collection methods used by NMFS. After much review their conclusion was not surprising. The NRC report called the process "fatally flawed," saying the monitoring systems had "serious flaws in design or implementation" and the "collections methods of recreational fishing surveys do not provide adequate data for management and policy decisions." That report was released five years ago and the data collection system remains the same today.

We need to improve the outdated systems currently used to manage our fisheries. Through more modern data collection, state and federal fishery managers will have access to the resources necessary to support sciencebased and proactive fisheries management decisions for the fisheries off Florida's coasts. Every Floridian wants our fisheries to be managed responsibly to ensure their continued vitality, but we also want the science behind these tough choices to be modern, consistent and sound.

George LeMieux is a Republican U.S. Senator from Florida.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fishermen Talk to Senator

LeMieux speaks with fishermen about fishery management

PANAMA CITY — Government regulations imposed on recreational fishing for red snapper, amberjack and other Gulf of Mexico fish have decimated the region’s charter boat industry, area fishermen told Sen. George LeMieux, R-Florida, Tuesday during his Bay County visit.

Read more.

Monday, January 11, 2010


We can't thank the folks that are helping to fight this battle enough. As you can see from our new banner again ordinary people are doing extraordinary things to protect and preserve our coastal communities and their fishing heritage.

Thanks to Rick Prentice with Image Link for our new page header!

NMFS Meeting Panama City Beach

National Marine Fisheries Service Meeting
Thursday January 14 2010
Panama City Beach
Boardwalk Beach Resort
6:00 pm

Please attend this meeting and forward this information to all parties interested in protecting their coastal communities from the devastating impact of overly restrictive fishing regulations by the federal government.

A massive show of public support for the following issues is badly needed:

  1. Say no to "catch shares"! The radical environmentalists are pushing for adoption.
  2. Say no to " sector seperation"! The radical enviromentalists are pushing for adoption.
  3. Say no to vessel monitoring systems! The radical enviromentalists are pushing for adoption
  4. Say no to fish traps in the Gulf!
  5. Say yes to better data for better management!
  6. Say yes to passage of the Pallone bill HR-1584 and the Shumer bill s-1255
  7. Tell your story about how more restrictions are not needed and economically devastating. "Standard 8" requires the economic impact of regulations to be considered.
We need a huge crowd at this meeting.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

March on Washington Press Release

Here is something you can do today to help fight back! Click on the link below to send a letter of support to the legislators standing up for you. Please forward this to all your contacts.

Fix Magnuson Now!

Press Release 1-9-10

Saturday, January 2, 2010


"United We Fish" To Seek Congressional Support On February 24

December 16, 2009 - In a historic show of solidarity, recreational and commercial fishermen will gather together on the steps of the Capitol on February 24, 2010 from noon until 3 p.m. in an organized demonstration against the unintended negative impacts of the Magnuson Stevens Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the federal fisheries law which was revised in January of 2007. Coordinating the march under the flag of United We Fish, rally organizers are hoping to see a large show of force in defense of coastal communities.

"The closures keep coming and it's good to see the collective fishing communities and industries, both recreational and commercial, calling for scientific based Magnuson reform," said Jim Donofrio, Executive Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA). "We are all in this together." Donofrio cited recent closures of amberjack, black sea bass and red snapper fisheries as examples of what he calls a "broken" federal fisheries law.

The groups organized through United We Fish are hoping to prove to legislators just how many American anglers and business owners are truly being impacted by the overly restrictive management requirements created by MSA based on non scientific arbitrary deadlines. According to Bob Zales of the Conservation Cooperative of Gulf Fishermen (CCGF), the time-specific deadlines mandated by MSA coupled with flawed data collection methods are forcing anglers off the water. "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."

This effort is being coordinated by many organizations and individuals including but not limited to the RFA, CCGF, SSFFF, United Boatmen of New York, United Boatmen of New Jersey, New York Sportfishing Federation, Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association and the Fishing Rights Alliance. "Some people have asked 'why, it's winter'," said Donofrio who said he's gotten the required permits and expects a large crowd in DC on February 24th, regardless of weather. "We can't let seasons stop the momentum, and if we wait any longer none of us will be fishing. Many members of Congress will be standing shoulder to shoulder with us," Donofrio said.

Nils Stolpe, a consultant to the commercial fishing industry and columnist for said that over the past three decades since the original Magnuson Act was established, fishermen have been gradually phased out of the fisheries management process, regardless of sector. "The scientists have been put in charge, and as the list of closures and restrictions up above painfully demonstrates, the Act has been turned into a weapon that is now being used against fishermen and fishing communities."

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) first introduced the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act of 2008 in the 110th Congress to incorporate "limited flexibility" into federal fisheries management. More than 100 fishing groups and industry members from around the country pledged their support for the legislation and the bill's 19 bipartisan coastal cosponsors, but the bill languished during the volatile economic climate in advance of the presidential elections in November of 2008.

Realizing that fisheries closures would continue without congressional intervention, in March of this year, Rep. Pallone and fellow Representatives John Adler (D-NJ), Henry Brown, Jr. (R-SC), Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL), Barney Frank (D-MA), Walter B. Jones, Jr. (R-NC), Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Frank LoBiondo (D-NJ), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Michael Michaud (D-ME), Solomon Ortiz (D-TX) and John Tierney (D-MA), reintroduced the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act of 2009 (HR 1584). Twenty-five total co-sponsors have since pledged support to date including Rob Andrews (D-NJ), Timothy Bishop (D-NY), Allen Boyd (D-FL), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Peter King (R-NY), Rob Wittman (R-VA), Jo Bonner (R-AL), John Mica (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Clifford Stearns (R-FL), Donna Christensen (D-VI), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Ander Crenshaw (R-FL).

Following a letter-writing campaign by the RFA-NY and members of the New York Sportfishing Federation, senior Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York announced his Senate version of the bill (S.1255). Currently, the Senate bill to correct the flaws in MSA has no co-sponsors, which is something United We Fish organizers are hoping will change in February.

"New York's Senator Schumer is as concerned about his fishing constituents as he is about the fish, just as Congressmen Pallone, Frank, Jones, LoBiondo, Kennedy, Adler and others in the House of Representatives are," said Stolpe. "Hence they have formed the nucleus of a growing movement in Congress that, in spite of the editorial opinion of the New York Times and the expenditure of many millions of dollars by the Pew Charitable Trusts, is aimed at preserving recreational and commercial fishing, the lifestyles of millions of fishermen, and the tens of thousands of businesses and hundreds of fishing communities that they support," Stolpe added.

Organizers from within the recreational fishing sector are hoping to get commitment from all user groups and across varied state and regional boundaries. "This is much bigger than any one state issue or individual grievance," said RFA's Managing Director Jim Hutchinson, Jr. "Whether it's our restrictive fluke fishery in New York, the arbitrary closure of state waters for our anglers in California, or the shutdown of red snapper and amberjack down south, our community has been divided by preservationist tactics for too long. It's time to unite the clans in defense of our coastal heritage and traditions," Hutchinson said.

"We need to let Congress and NOAA know that we are the collective voice of the recreational fishing community and the collective voice does not accept the current broken management system which wreaks such havoc on all of us and our businesses," said Donofrio, adding "The goal on February 24th will be to get all of our congressional friends to attend."

"At this point Senator Schumer and his Congressional colleagues in the House deserve the thanks and the support of every one of us who fishes, whether for fun or profit," said Stolpe.

The United We Fish rally is set for 2/24/10 at noon at the Capitol. For details as they become available, sign up for the RFA's email newsletter on the homepage at

Link to original post.

Grouper, Snapper Fishing Bans Leave Fishermen Reeling

Reported by Greg Pallone

PORT CANAVERAL -- Two fishing bans are about to go into effect on the Atlantic Coast, and opponents said it will destroy the fishing industry.

On Jan. 1, there will be no grouper fishing in federal waters from North Carolina to Florida.

A red snapper ban lasting 6 months and possibly up to 34 years begins Jan. 4.

It’s the result of a federal mandate to repopulate what they call overfishing.

The United We Fish Rally is the first time recreational and commercial fishermen, along with businesses along the Eastern Seaboard will protest together.

Read more.