You know me — I love fishing. And we all know of angling’s importance to our industry. So, from blasting the National Park Service to a solid partnership to get more women fishing, here are four fishy items worth knowing about that have grabbed my attention.
First, a big shoutout to Carl Liederman, president of Capt. Harry’s Fishing Supply, for blasting the National Park Service by pointing out the obvious — that their General Management Plan for Biscayne National Park wreaks of a predetermined decision to create a so-called “marine reserve zone” that would close more than 10,500 acres to recreational fishing. The National Park Service didn’t even properly reach such a bad decision.
According to Liederman, the plan was made without stakeholder or scientific input and does not reflect the needs of either the environment or community (Greater Miami). In addition, he said in an op-ed: “I was frustrated to read the misleading and inaccurate quotes from the National Park Service and the National Parks Conservation Association in the recent National Parks Traveler article, “Florida Congressional offices want to block Biscayne National Park’s fisheries plan.”
“Particularly troubling,” Liederman added, “were the disrespectful attacks on our Congressional representatives for working to ensure that their constituents and the state aren’t completely ignored in significant decisions. I and others in recreational fishing agree with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that fishing closures should only be applied when clearly supported by science. I stand with the FWC in its opposition to the marine reserve which is poorly designed and not scientifically justified.” Amen!
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Secondly, what do women and the Boy Scouts of America have in common? They are teaming up with the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation to advance angling by introducing scouts to the joys of fishing.
Specifically, the RBFF is partnering with the Boy Scouts’ Certified Angling Instructor Program. This training converts Boy Scouts fishing advocates into more effective, trained instructors teaching scouts of all ages fishing basics. The RBFF will provide instructional content from its Passport to Fishing and Boating Program and its trademark TakeMeFishing.org. In addition, the RBFF will leverage materials from its industry network to aid the Boys Scouts of America in teaching youth.
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And, thirdly, teaching is the goal of Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing as it also partners with the RBFF. It’s an effort to attract more women to sportfishing.
Founded in 1997 by championship angler Betty Bauman, the Ladies Let’s Go Fishing organization has produced more than 8,000 graduates. “This new effort is basically a ‘develop and teach the teachers’ program,” Bauman said. “We’re bringing in novices, exposing them to fishing and giving them the skills to go on and teach their friends and families.”
According to RBFF president Frank Peterson, their latest studies reveal 34 percent of angling participants are women and 47 percent of new fishing participants in 2014 were women. What’s been lacking is the availability of learning opportunities specifically geared for women. This program also teamed up with the National Marne Manufacturers Association on the national level because getting more women fishing will have a positive impact on the growth of boating.
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Finally, beware of lionfish. Rep. Curt Clawson, R-Fla., introduced in the House a bill banning importation of all 11 lionfish species, including the nine that have not yet been found in U.S. waters. Lionfish are an invasive species and voracious feeders that can consume up to 40 juvenile native sportfish per day. They annually lay as many as two million eggs and have no natural predators in the Western Hemisphere.
The fear is that the two species of lionfish already overrunning Florida reefs and waters could destroy the native fishery. It’s a situation much like the fight to keep Asian carp from decimating the native fish of the Great Lakes and failure to successfully address such threats could have a hugely negative impact on boating’s future.