I Fish, I Vote bumper stickers have been a recognizable symbol of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) for the past 15 years.
Now, just one day after a key vote in the House of Representatives which would defund government efforts to “develop, approve, or implement” any new limited access privilege programs, RFA is proud to offer a new line of bumper stickers which will begin appearing on the back of RFA member vehicles across the country in the form of official ‘Boycott Wal-Mart’ stickers (Walmart = Save Money, Less Fishing).
Last month, the Walton Family Foundation released their 2011 funding report in which it was announced that a total of $30.54 million in charitable donations were awarded last year directly for marine conservation, which is very much in line with the amounts awarded in 2010 towards the environmental business community’s efforts to create marine reserves and catch share programs.
According to the report, most of the money from the heirs to the Wal-Mart corporate empire were awarded to seven major groups, including the Environmental Defense Fund ($9,035,154), Conservation International Foundation ($4,986,457), Marine Stewardship Council ($3,122,500), Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Foundation ($1,934,651), Ocean Conservancy ($1,665,146), Nature Conservancy, Inc. ($1,136,832) and the World Wildlife Fund ($992,286). An additional $11.2 million was also given out to Conservation International by Walton for what was disclosed as “unspecified environmental work.”
According to the Recreational Fishing Alliance, the three major funding recipients in Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Conservation International and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) are all directly involved in efforts to promote ‘cap and trade’ fishing schemes for U.S. coastal fisheries.
“At a time when fisheries managers are starving for improved fisheries data, scientifically sound assessments and increased data collection in the recreational community, it’s hard to believe that these black tie environmental business leaders are so focused on efforts to deny the public access to our natural resources,” said RFA executive director Jim Donofrio. “Fishermen are the original conservationists, so of course we support environmental awareness, but not at the expense of America’s right to open access.”
In 2011, RFA announced an official angler boycott of Wal-Mart stores as a result of the corporate donations awarded to efforts to close down and privatize our nation’s saltwater resources. Despite receiving cover by industry professionals supportive of Wal-Mart’s freshwater bass circuit, RFA said the Walton family’s efforts to shut down U.S. coastal waters through marine reserves and catch shares should not be supported by the tackle manufacturers.
“You have EDF stacking the regional councils with support for catch shares, Conservation International staffers hoping to secure big money jobs in onboard observing, and MSC defining which fish stocks should be bought and sold on the free market, it’s a complete fix,” Donofrio said. “This isn’t conspiracy theory, these are cold hard facts.”
Donofrio said Conservation International is especially worthy of concern given that they are the biggest recipients of Walton Family Foundation funding. Founded in 1987 by former staffers at Nature Conservancy, Conservation International Foundation is headquartered in Alexandria, VA and has its chairman of the board Wal-Mart’s Chairman Rob Walton.
Rob Walton recently was recently quoted by CNN as saying his corporation has been directly involved in the efforts to implement catch shares, “which have become very accepted over these five years or so that we’ve been working. I don’t know how much we’ve been a catalyst for that but we certainly have been supporting it.”
Another senior staffer at Conservation International according to the RFA is Dr. Andrew Rosenberg, who is listed on the organization’s website as Senior Vice President of ‘Science & Knowledge.’ A former NOAA Fisheries staffer, Rosenberg is also one of the key members of MRAG Americas which was commissioned to perform a five-year, $2.7 million assessment on the catch shares scheme. In the official EDF Catch Share Manual, MRAG also worked with their client at EDF “in understanding how catch shares might work for the recreational charter boat fleets of the U.S.”
“Not only has MRAG Americas been paid to conduct a catch share study to show how catch shares could be steamrolled into the recreational sector, part of their findings have showed how onboard observers are a critical component of this privatization scheme,” said RFA managing director Jim Hutchinson, Jr. “It should come as no surprise to anyone then that this same firm that Dr. Rosenberg has helped build also offers a fisheries observer program in their suite of professional services.”
Hutchinson said he hopes that RFA members will proudly show off their displeasure with the Walton Family Foundation and Wal-Mart especially for paying their way into the ocean privatization racket. “Our RFA-FL Forgotten Coast Chapter chair Capt. Tom Adams printed up the boycott stickers and will be distributing throughout the RFA-FL network, but folks reading this now who would like to join us in protesting the corporate takeover of our oceans can also purchase one online for just $3 a piece which includes the shipping and handling,” he said.
To get your Wal-Mart and Walton Family Foundation bumper sticker as it appears above, click here (or call the office at 888-564-6732).