Gone, Fishing?
Will Obama's ocean-policy task force remain in lockstep with radical greens?


Frank Miniter

So Pres. Barack Obama’s “Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force” has decided that the opinions of America’s 60 million anglers aren’t worthy of its consideration.

This task force, headed by the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), was charged with drafting a national ocean policy of marine spatial planning to manage U.S. ocean territory and the Great Lakes. Its recommendations — due out later this month — could be enacted by executive order.

Here’s why anglers, and freedom-loving Americans, should be alarmed: Without input from recreational anglers and the conservation groups that represent them — such as Trout Unlimited, the U.S. Recreational Fishing & Boating Coalition, and the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies — decisions made under this new national oceans policy could be used to close saltwater and freshwater recreational-fishing areas.

On December 9, 2009, President Obama’s task force released its Interim Framework for Marine Spatial Planning. Soon thereafter, a coalition of ten leading recreational fishing and boating organizations submitted joint comments to the task force. The angling groups wanted to be sure the recommendations sent to the president took the guys with the bass rods and flyboxes into consideration.

After all, America’s anglers are widely credited with saving countless streams, reintroducing and managing fish species, and sounding the alarm when they see a fish species in decline. In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just announced that $862 million was raised from taxes on hunting, shooting, and fishing equipment in 2009. These funds, which don’t even include monies raised from fishing licenses, will be redistributed to the states for conservation and education programs, as they are every year.

But never mind who’s paying for the conservation of these resources (green-activist groups that style themselves “preservationists” don’t pay these taxes); the task force has made it clear that it is no longer interested in the fishing groups’ input.

The White House task force’s top priority isn’t finding out what’s best for these natural resources, and it isn’t the people who use these waters. Its primary interest is advancing an agenda of federal control and environmentalist ideology. That’s why the Detroit News recently observed that “the task force effectively authorizes the feds to take over jurisdiction of one of the remaining linchpins of Michigan’s economy, our multibillion-dollar fishing industry that generates over 27,000 jobs.” It’s why the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation says this executive order could affect over one million fishery-related jobs nationwide.


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