Tell your members of Congress that the Coast Guard deserves to be paid during government shutdowns. Also, the Coastal Conservation Association should be recognized for the work it does to promote healthy fisheries for recreational anglers.
Your action is needed today to support the Coast Guard. And on another note, the Coastal Conservation Association deserves to be recognized for its excellent work.
You might be surprised to learn that the Coast Guard is the only branch of the armed services that doesn’t get paid during a government shutdown. (The Coast Guard is part of the Dept. of Homeland Security, not the Dept. of Defense). This should be unacceptable to any of us in the boating industry.
A “Pay Our Coast Guard” provision has been included in the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2019, which is before the U.S. Senate now. It would guarantee pay for our devoted members of the Coast Guard, who continue to serve our country even when the government has been shut down.
About a year ago, we had the longest government shutdown in history, and members of the Coast Guard still did their jobs — without pay. There were many stories of citizens bringing groceries and financial help to Coast Guard stations to support these families.
But Coast Guard families should not be in such a position again. And with Congress having passed a continuing budget resolution until Dec. 20, these folks again could face difficulties at home, not just at sea. We need to make sure our Coast Guard members and their families are taken care of in case of another government shutdown.
In the interest of transparency, I am a member of the Coastal Conservation Association, an organization that gets things done and is worthy of recognition by dealers and support from every angler in the nation.
CCA was created in 1977, after drastic commercial overfishing along the Texas coast decimated redfish and speckled trout populations. Just 14 concerned recreational anglers gathered in a local tackle shop to create what was to be the Gulf Coast Conservation Association. Its goal was to turn the tide for conservation. Four years later, gill nets along the Texas coast were outlawed, and red drum and speckled trout were declared gamefish.
This successful “Save the Redfish” campaign grabbed the attention of anglers around the Gulf of Mexico and by 1985 chapters had formed all along the Gulf Coast. By the early ’90s, the South and Mid-Atlantic regions had CCA chapters. In 2007, Washington and Oregon chapters were formed, and in 2015, the CCA California chapter was created. The fish are different, but the challenges facing them are often the same on all coasts: destructive commercial gear, degraded habitat and misguided management.
A strong advocate for access to resources, CCA has proven that anglers are among our best stewards of the marine environment. Here are a few examples of CCA action being taken in various chapters.
Members of the CCA California San Diego Chapter recently partnered with Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute to release more than 2,300 juvenile halibut into Mission Bay. The fish were offspring of brood stock trips held in December 2018, when CCA members spent two days pulled in 14 legal halibut for the project. Brood stock are the breeders that produce eggs that are cultured into juvenile fish to be released.
CCA Florida is involved in an East Coast Redfish Restocking Initiative. Members know this iconic fishery has declined in recent years and are working with the Duke Energy Mariculture Center, which has released 4.1 million fish and crustaceans on Florida’s west coast, including more than 34,000 red tide recovery redfish in southwest Florida earlier this year. Expanding efforts on the east coast, the next phase of the redfish restocking initiative includes the raising and release of up to 100,000 juvenile redfish.
Back to where it all began, another popular fish on the Texas coast continues to struggle, and additional measures are being taken to prevent further declines. Fisheries managers are faced with difficult decisions on how to properly manage a mixed commercial and recreational southern flounder fishery. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has acted in the past to increase the relative abundance of southern flounder, and it appears that they will need to do more.
The TPW Commission is examining future management options, including further reductions in bag limits, boat limits, extension of seasonal closures, increases in slot size and gear restrictions to increase flounder populations. CCA says all options should be on the table and that it’s time to answer the tough questions many have had for decades: Why allow a commercial fishery for a species at the lowest end of its geographical range?
Meanwhile, CCA has donated more than $1 million to support flounder research and stock enhancement, and $740,000 to the University of Texas Marine Science Institute for facilities and equipment to support larvae research efforts.