With just three days to go until the Keep Fishermen Fishing Rally near the U.S. Capitol on March 21, organizers expect thousands of recreational and commercial fishermen – and their families – to be in Washington this week in support of coastal fishing-related jobs.
Coastal fishermen last assembled in organized protest in February of 2010 to show their dissatisfaction with federal fisheries management, though organizers say that Congress has been slow to react to their concerns.
Despite previous congressional mandates, there has been no improvement in the science underlying federal fisheries management and no adherence by the federal agency to the statutory requirements that federal fisheries data collection be improved. Instead, NOAA Fisheries enforcement is in a shambles, as are the assurances of transparency and rebuilt relationships that Dr. Jane Lubchenco promised Congress when she took over at NOAA in 2009.
According to the thousands of fishermen set to peacefully assemble at Upper Senate Park on March 21st, changes implemented under the reauthorized 2006 Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act have improved the health of U.S. coastal fish stocks primarily by kicking fishermen off the water and putting thousands of Americans out of work. Recreational and commercial fishermen alike, supported by a core group of bipartisan coastal legislators, believe that proper balance of commerce and conservation is possible through simple amendments to the federal fisheries law.
“We aren’t going to Washington because we object to effective fisheries management; we are going because we object to overly restrictive management measures,” said Nils Stolpe, one of the rally organizers and a representative of the commercial fishing industry. “We are going because we object to a federal law that puts all of the emphasis on protecting the fish and none whatsoever on protecting the jobs of those that sustainably harvest those fish.”
Approximately 5,000 coastal fishermen attended the 2010 rally in support of federal fisheries reform, a number that organizers believe will be met or exceeded on Wednesday. “The nation’s coastal anglers are coming to Washington again on Wednesday because they object to a federal fisheries law that keeps them from accessing healthy fish stocks, reduces participation in the fishery, and hurts jobs in our coastal communities,” said Jim Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance. “Our federal fisheries law is broken and has been used by several mega-foundations as a weapon to beat back our coastal fishermen while destroying jobs in this country,” he added.
Keep Fishermen Fishing organizers are inviting members of the public as well as Members of Congress to join them at Upper Senate Park in Washington DC on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 starting at noon, to hear from real working fishermen and anglers alike whose sacrifices have made our domestic fisheries the envy of every other nation on earth.
“They’ll be there on their time and on their dime,” Stolpe said, adding “How many of the people who will be flocking to Washington to counter the Keep Fishermen Fishing Rally can make the same claim?”
For list of supporters and attendees, and more information about the rally, visit www.keepfishermenfishing.com. Also visit “Keep Fishermen Fishing” on Facebook, our blog at http://fixmagnusonnow.blogspot.com/ or subscribe to our Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/ #!/FishMarchDC2012.
Check out Congressmen Walter Jones as he adresses the 2010 United We Fish Rally. “This is how you change America quite frankly.”