Kudos to the Recreational Fishing Alliance for voicing dismay over the latest appointments to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, calling the process used to select appointees a clear violation of the spirit and intent of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
RFAs tireless executive director, Jim Donofrio, has said his organization was frustrated by the recent appointments to the MAFMC. Specifically, there has been a complete lack of consultation or input sought from the traditional recreational fishing stakeholders," charges Donofrio. Moreover, he cites federal fisheries law that provides a states governor must consult with representatives of the states commercial and recreational fishing interests regarding the appointment of state representatives to fishery management councils.
In the case of four new appointees to the MAFMC, two represent the states of Virginia and New Jersey while two other new members come from New York and North Carolina. The appointments should cause a justifiable uproar in the fishing community because the representatives from Virginia and New Jersey replaced incumbent representatives from the recreational fishing community, while the New York appointee removed a commercial sector seat.
"The lists sent to Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke by the Governors of New York, New Jersey and Virginia included individuals that are completely unknown to the mainstream recreational and commercial fishing communities in these states," Donofrio explained. It is glaringly apparent that traditional stakeholders were excluded from state level deliberations regarding these appointments," he added.
RFA is now actively pushing to head off similar debacles in future appointments. Donofrio is calling on Secretary Locke to implement a plan requiring governors, prior to submitting the names of possible appointees to the Secretary, disclose the prospective list in the states register for public review and comment for a minimum of 20 days. The result would be Governors' lists sent to the Secretary that have been fully vetted at the state level by representatives of the recreational and commercial fishing communities. That, fires Donofrio, is what federal law simply requires!
By every measure, fishing remains the single biggest use of our industrys products. It is vital, then, that the rights of anglers are represented and protected. Specifically, RFA does a great job of safeguarding the rights of saltwater anglers. Dealers who have a vested interested in saltwater angling should support the work of RFA. For instance, a letter to Secretary Locke calling for a more transparent appointment process for fishery councils would be a good start. Joining RFA would be better.
For information: call 888-JOIN-RFA or go to the Web site: www.joinrfa.org