View Full Version : The Ideal Fishermen's Conservation Group?

07-25-2005, 10:47 AM
The Ideal Fishermen's Conservation Group?

Who speaks for you on conservation issues?

Are they doing a good job? If not then what would you do, if you could, to improve them?

The point of this thread is not to bash existing organizations, but rather to get an idea on what folks might consider as the ideal conservation group for them. Is there a wide consensus? Or are there too many factions (or egos) within the recreational fishing community for it to organize in a LARGE and effective way.

While I do think there are many fishing organizations that do a good job at representing recreational anglers in NE, they are "fishing groups" and not "conservation groups".

Each year I try to support one fishing group and one conservation group. Unfortunately, these days there appears to not be a conservation group in New England that represents my interests.

Is there room for a new one?

In a true conservation group, where most or all of its members are recreational fishermen, I think the following would be a good start...

- Fish First: Fish is a noun here, not a verb.

- Be reasonable: Avoid positions that are extreme, except when needed. For example, should the harvest of menhaden in Chesapeake Bay be capped, or should it be totally stopped. I think it should be stopped, at least temporarily.

- Local is better than national: 100% of membership dues need to stay at home and not sent to a mothership somewhere else in another region of the country.

- No group-sponsored fishing tournaments: Unless they can be structured in such a way to not encourage a large and wasteful killing of fish (is that possible?), tournaments have no place in a conservation group.

- Recognize all valid stakeholders: Assuming that sustainablility is accounted for and that fishery managers are truly erring on the side of conservation, then obviously a conservation group composed of recreational fishermen should advocate that that the fishing public gets the lion's share of the sustainable allocation. However, a conservation group of any kind should not be in the business of eliminating whole sectors (not to be confused with gear types) from a fishery just for the sake of doing so.

- Focus on participation, not "what's in it for me": An ideal conservation group will have members that are more interested in what's on the agenda for an upcoming public hearing, rather than what is on an upcoming raffle table. I find it sad (and unacceptable) when I see a representative of a group get up at a hearing and claim that he represents "X" hundred or "X" thousand members - but he is the only one there from that group. What does that really say?

- ALL MEMBERS HAVE A VOTE ON POSITIONS: This is paramount and a fundamental requirement of a truly grass roots conservation group. As a result, I don't think that the "chapter" model works well. Members need to meet together to be on the same page. Perhaps to get around the matter of a membership spread out all over the state or region, the membership could meet at alternating regions (much like the NEFMC does). In other words this month everyone meets at a Cape Cod location and next month at a North Shore location and so on based on membership demographics. Perhaps members could carpool.

- Regional or state only?: I think a state based group would be most effective.

- Information, Information, Information: All members must have access to an internal email network where they should be free to bounce news and ideas (whatever they are) among the rest of the group. I have yet to find a conservation group that allows it's members to post information to the rest of the group. This is sad and unacceptable.

- Stand up and be counted: All board members must be listed publicly on the group's website with each of their contact information. NO "CATCHALL" CONTACT ADDRESS FOR EVERYONE. This is needed so that folks know that their questions/concerns about the groups positions are getting to more than one accountable person.

Again, this is just a little brainstorming on my part and I thought some folks on this list would be interested in discussing this. I welcome your feedback, good, bad, or indifferent. It just seems that there is so much talent and interest on so many different internet fishing forums from so many conservation-minded fishermen. However, much of the effort spent on preaching to the choir would be better spent if there was a unified and active organization that is palletable to all. Is that possible?

Oh what we could do if we were truly organized...

- Stop the slaughter on spawning cod in MA state waters. Indeed, and when a Gloucester rep shows up to defend it, he needs to be reminded that there are a lot more conservation-minded recreational fishermen in his district than there are opportunistic gill netters.

- Ensure that the sea herring TACs are structured to not allow the near-shore depletion of this important forage species, as they do now.

- Ban midwater pair trawlers which are now allowed to sell baby haddock bycatch as lobster bait.

- Much much more.

Your thoughts?

Mike Flaherty
Wareham, MA