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I'm Done!

For the last 12 years, I have been the recreational swordfish representative on the Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel at NMFS.

I jumped in with both feet at the beginning and learned quickly how slow the wheel turns and how little influence advisory panel members have.

HMS AP is somewhat equivalent to a council seat with a some big differences. For instance our vote or comments mean nothing if no one wants to listen, we don't get paid, and we have to take off from our professions for at least 6 days a year.

Did I accomplish anything? Well I think so but its hard to tell sometimes. The AP is there solely for statutory reasons so in my opinion all deals are made way before they are brought to the AP. We *****ed, screamed, negotiated, but in the end, almost always the regs went the way they were originally presented to the panel.

From Florida we had a great group of representatives that were so together, we were often referred to as the Florida Delegation. Truth is, Commercial, Recreational and government acted together for the best deal we could get for Florida. The Enviro's or "Greenies" work by themselves, be became a fairly together group of policy makes.

I watched and supported the closed zone for longlines off our coast, a good thing, but also watched the decimation of the Shark fishery, PLL fleet, and the crazy regs trying to take care of the Bluefin Tuna fishery.

I saw the good in the turtle release regs for longlines, electronic monitoring of the longline fishery, crazy Tuna regs that essentially prevent a Florida recreational fisherman from ever keeping a trophy Bluefin tuna, but the loopholes that allow a Gen Cat fisherman to keep that same fish at the same dates we can't keep them.

My opinion is that the HMS management team, while a great bunch of people, are there , again just to meet the regulatory requirements of industry review of the regs before they ar shoved down our throat.

Maybe its time to rethink. Is HMS AP even worth the cost. One January , a couple of years ago, they flew all of us to DC for a quick one day meeting because they had shark regs that needed the regulator "look" by the AP. Did they listen to anything? Heck now we know the regs were already written, ready to be put in place so we lost two days of our businesses and flew out of DC realizing our time was wasted due to mistake by HMS in not bringing up those regs at last meeting.

Another problem that is critical. how many of the HMS workers do you think ever caught a fish? Especially an HMS species. Well I can tell you its single digit percentage.

My biggest gripe is the move we tried to implement to promote environmentally friendly methods of catching swordfish commercially without longlines. HMS passed some new regs, but left out the only place in the world where you can catch a swordfish with a 45 minute boat ride.

The worst part of HMS AP, is they have no regret for all of the small fishing operation they put out of business over the years. Not one of them as far as I can tell ever had a small business and have no understanding of business, debt, boat costs, fishing costs, and earning of a small business. The bluefin Bycatch quota regs are a colossal failure and the end result of this is that the most environmental friendly and regulated Pelagic Longline Fishery will be out of business in just a few short years. Fleet is being sold off at a rate never expereinced, so do you think that is good???? Let me tell you, I just saw one of the largest longline vessels in the fleet sold to South African business, so now instead of that boat fishing circle hooks, turtle release gear, and highly regulated bycatch rules, it will now fish j hooks, catch turtles, marlin, other billfish, but still in our oceans where our own HMS fish come from.

So after 12 years, and $54,000 estimated dollars of lost income, and 24 or more trip where the only relief was beating my head against the wall, .............................................................................................................................................................................................................I"M DONE!......................................................................................

I hope some young blood brings new ideas and I hope the best for the fisheries I represented.


  • Jack HexterJack Hexter Posts: 5,642 Moderator
    Ron.. That's how we all feel about the "Public Input" meetings we all attend, banging our heads against the wall and watching Crabtree and EDF act in collusion to push regulations and seasons that no one but them want. Look at the Gulf Snapper Amend 40 for example.

    Anyway, thanks for your effort
  • toomertoomer Posts: 348 Deckhand
    Thank you for doing your best to represent fishermen. I have had experiences similar to yours in other regulatory settings. I was a school principal and, like your single digit non-fisherman stat., I got lorded over by folks who never ran a school. Hell, in many cases they never taught a class. So, what you describe is more common that folks might want to think.

    I also spent 5 years in DC as part of a nonprofit during which we had a lot of interaction with governmental and quasi-governmental entities. These groups were dominated by young do-gooders from east coast elite schools. Bright, energetic and largely clueless about the real world west of I-95. Their opinions came from their worldview, not from experience. High SAT scores and a liberal elite education were the sole qualifications of many.

    When a critical mass of such folks come together in an agency and align with one interest group over another, the out group gets royally screwed.

    You'd think in your case they'd at least make them go fishing with you!
  • Ron.. That's how we all feel about the "Public Input" meetings we all attend, banging our heads against the wall and watching Crabtree and EDF act in collusion to push regulations and seasons that no one but them want. Look at the Gulf Snapper Amend 40 for example.

    Anyway, thanks for your effort

    Agree 100%
  • surfmansurfman Posts: 6,017 Admiral
    sounds strangely familiar....

    Thanks very much for your effort though.
    Tight Lines, Steve
    My posts are my opinion only.

    Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.  Will Rogers
  • Westwall01Westwall01 Posts: 5,452 Admiral
    Thanks for your time Ron
  • Ron, you are a good man and a great credit to the advancement of recreational fishing. Thank you so much for your effort and great sacrifice in this greatly unappreciated work.

    "If I can't win, I won't play." - Doris Colecchio.

    "Well Gary, the easiest way to look tall is to stand in a room full of short people." - Curtis Bostick

    "All these forums, with barely any activity, are like a neglected old cemetery that no one visits anymore."- anonymouse
  • conchydongconchydong Posts: 15,359 AG
    Westwall01 wrote: »
    Thanks for your time Ron

    We have big issues with the fisheries that are driven by political forces.

    “Everyone behaves badly--given the chance.”
    ― Ernest Hemingway

  • FletchFletch Posts: 2,580 Moderator
    Good on you for trying. I've all but thrown in the towel myself as well. Much better things to do with my time than drive all over the southeast and speak to a bunch of smirking faces for two minutes with nothing to show for in return.
    "Ninety percent I'll spend on good times, women and Irish whiskey. The other ten percent, I'll probably waste..."
    -- Tug McGraw on getting a raise

    Get Down Fishing Charters - Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Exactly why I've given up even bothering to show and speak.
    Sucks, but it's the way it is.
    I, at one meeting said "would you guys please look up from your computers and listen?
    Didn't really help, but it made me feel better that i got their attention for a second.
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