Administration and Environmental Groups Pushing For Closures Off of New England Coast
Comment Period Extended Through Friday, September 18, 2015
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New Gretna, NJ - In response to vocal recreational fishermen protesting the fast track, back room process being pushed by the environmental industry to closure off areas off of the New England coast, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has extended the comment period until Friday, September 18, 2015 for the National Marine Monuments proposal. At Tuesday's town hall meeting in Providence the environmental industry was in attendance trying to advance their anti-fishing agenda and falsely claiming support for their ideology by recreational anglers. Fortunately, a strong turnout by anglers and for-hire operators was there to represent the recreational community and voice opposition to the proposed national monuments. Make no mistake, this proposal is not being driven by science or a legitimate conservation problem that needs to be addressed. It is 100% political so NOAA needs to hear from anglers with letters and emails opposing this ideological attack on recreational fishing.
"It goes without saying that it is impossible for the recreational fishing community to hold any trust that the agency (NOAA) will give fair consideration to the concerns of fishermen," states Jim Donofrio Executive Director of the RFA in comments submitted to NOAA earlier this week. "It is clear that the environmental industry has had significant and inordinate influence on a private level with NOAA with regards to the development, information gathering and public advancement of this proposal."
The areas in question include Oceanographer, Gilbert, and Lydonia Canyons and 4 seamounts off of the New England coast. Cashes Ledge has also been identified as a target by the environmental organizations. These are all prime areas for recreational anglers targeting large pelagics. There is no question that this initiative was prompted and is being driven by the environmental lobby.
"Don't be fooled. The first step is to close these areas to commercial fishing and the next step will be to restrict access to the recreational and/or charter boat fleet as has been done in the past," warned charter boat captain Mike Pierdinock, Chairman of the Massachusetts chapter of the RFA and Board Member of the Stellwagen Bank Charter Boat Association. "Habitat protection in the form of marine protected areas should only be considered through the regional fishery management council process not presidential proclamation." In a letter submitted to President Obama on September 14th, Captain Pierdinock outlined the process by which habitat protection and fishing regulations were developed for areas off of the New England coast. Specifically, he spoke to the countless discussions, public hearings, and collaborative efforts of scientists, fisheries managers, fishermen and other important stakeholders in the New England region during the development of the management protection measures. It was a process driven by science and stakeholder input. The same cannot be said for the proposed National Marine Monuments designations for Cashes Ledge and New England canyons and seamounts which will be made through presidential proclamation.
"For any closure, we (the recreational fishing community) want a democratic process as afforded through the New England Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission," explains Capt. Pierdinock. "Are we 100% happy with the decisions that come out of that process....of course not but it provides opportunities for the public to be heard."
"Several of the environmental organizations that support these monument designations are on record as saying they "have no problem with recreational access to the areas," noted Captain Barry Gibson, RFA New England Director and chair of the NEFMC Recreational Advisory Panel. "However, the truth is that these groups will not be creating the designation documents -- that will be done by the administration in Washington. Therefore there's no guarantee that recreational fishing will be allowed in any of the proposed areas, a solid reason to oppose the whole idea."
The comment period has been extended to Friday, September 18 and all comments should be emailed directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. Because this issue is one that will be decided on politics, it is also important to share you comments with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey as well as Representative William Keating and other federal and state representatives in Massachusetts and the abutting states.