When Are the Other Environmental Groups Going to Step Up To The Plate ?

by Tom Fote

(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association September 2006 Newsletter)

Over the last few weeks I have sent emails about summer flounder to the other environmental groups with whom JCAA usually works.  I have been eagerly waiting for a reply and hoping for some support.  To date I have heard from only two people.  And they have been asking for information about this issue.  At least these two individuals have suggested working together to resolve this issue. 

I think my greatest disappointment is that JCAA has always responded to our fellow environmentalists.  Even when we didnít agree, at least we were willing to engage in discussion about the issues of importance to all of us.  I remember spending at least 12 hours on the phone helping with a press release with four other environmental groups, giving advice to keep them from alienating the recreational community.  But now, when we ask for their help, all we get is silence. 

We have discussed again and again within the network the problems that arise when we use only the available science to make decisions.  We all know that some of the science is truly smoke and mirrors with little relationship to actual events or issues.  These groups continue to tell me we can work around these situations with reviews and public input.  If they really believe that, now is the time to step up.

I donít think there is a thoughtful person with some background information about summer flounder who isnít appalled by what is going on.  The recreational and commercial communities that depend on summer flounder are being held hostage by the National Marine Fisheries Service.  We might debate about the level of conservation, but a decrease to 5.2 million pounds is absolutely absurd.  There is no logical or scientific sense behind this proposal.  Egos get locked into models and no one is willing to take a common sense step back. 

I am waiting to see what the rest of the environmental community does.  What they need to do is prove to the recreational/commercial community that they are not just out to put the recreational and commercial industries out of business.  If that is their agenda, they should just say so.  If it is not, then we should be working together to get a realistic quota for summer flounder.  This is an opportunity for all of us as environmentalists to prove to the recreational and commercial communities that we can work together.  Now is the time to prove our relationships are not all just one-way streets.  If we donít prove to the cynics that we can work together there will be long-term consequences for all of us.  And it will be the environment and the resource that will pay the price if our groups become opponents rather than colleagues. 

I am headed to Washington, DC for a Board of Directors Meeting for the Marine Fish Conservation Network early in September.  I will have an opportunity to talk with many of the national groups.  I will report to ASA, JCAA and other organizations on what takes place. 




It has never been more important to keep up with fisheries news.  Things are changing rapidly and decisions can get made before you even know about the possibility.  We need an up-to-date JCAA email list to keep you informed and tell you what to do.  If you are not on the list, email me at tfote@jcaa.orgIf your email address has changed, you need to let me know.  Because we bulk email, we may sometimes end up in your spam box.  Please check.  If you are not receiving notice that our newspaper has been posted, send me your email address again and check your spam filter. 



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