The Marine Fish Conservation Network has just released a report detailing major problems in US Fishery Management. “Turning A Blind Eye: The ‘See No Evil’ Approach to Wasteful Fishing.�

The report, presented to the press in Tampa this morning, tells a story of legislation that looks good on paper, but isn’t working in practice.

WMNF’s Stan Davis filed this story.

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Ten years ago Congress re-authorized the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. It’s back on the table again. And the news isn’t good… for anyone.

There are a lot of competing interests trying to influence the outcome of this legislation. One of them is the National Environmental Trust, a not-for-profit watchdog organization with headquaters in Washington. Here’s Martha Collins, the director of Florida operations…

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[Actuality 1- Martha- “… Magnuson-Stevens Act is up for ReAuthorization… we eliminate this problem.�]

Okay. So what is “ByCatch?�

The Marine Fish Conservation Network is a non-governmental organization that monitors how our laws regulating US fisheries are actually being applied.

Tom Wheatley is their Gulf of Mexico Regional Organizer…

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[Actuality 2- Tom- “… ByCatch is the …full-sized pickup trucks…�]

And that’s just one fishery in the Gulf, the shrimping industry.

In fact, for each pound of shrimp that makes it to market, another 5 lbs of ByCatch is hauled in, most of it Red Snapper… a fish very important to the recreational fishing business.

Now, some might think that commercial fishing interests would be a-ok with the government keeping ByCatch numbers secret, that the easier it is to harvest the ocean, the better it is for them.

But Kenny Daniels, President of the Gulf Fisherman’s Association, a commercial fisherman’s lobbying organization, doesn’t think so.

In fact, when the National Environmental Trust and the Marine Fish Conservation Network held a press briefing Friday morning, Daniels was at their side, as an ally.

[roll tape… ]

[Actuality 3- Kenny- “Any serious fisherman is a conservationalist… and my job would be over.�]

Daniels sees the problem as one of too many competing agencies doing insufficient monitoring of fish catch. And then, with erroneous data in hand, competing fisherman set to blaming each other.

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[Actuality 4- Kenny- What they basically do… how many fish are actually being caught …�

Tom Wheatley, though, has no illusions about who is at fault here. It’s not the fisherman, but rather the Department of Commerce and its local arms that are suppose to manage and oversee fishing here in the Gulf…

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[Actuality 5- Tom- “… In essence, the Gulf Council has not lived-up to the law …and the recreational sector…�]

So, what can you and I do?

According to Thursday’s speakers, there are actually at least two things:

1) Make sure Congress puts some teeth into a bill that was already good, but underfunded and unapplied… and,

2) If you fish, make a few changes…

Tom Wheatley…

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[Actuality 6- Tom- “… Circle Hooks …back into the water quicker…�]

And Wheatley also has this suggestion…

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[Actuality 7- Tom- “If I’m not going to be keeping… Venting …much higher chance of survivability…�]

And what about influencing legislation. Martha Collins had this to say…

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[Actuality 8- Martha- “… We need Congressmen Young & Bilirakis …Magnuson-Stevens Act…�]

For more information on what you can do, visit www.conservefish.org.

For WMNF, I’m Stan Davis

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