Georgia to Vote on Redfish This Week

Fish trivia of the day: What’s the most popular fish among all saltwater anglers?  Answer: The redfish—also known as red drum, spottail, and channel bass.  Unfortunately many states offer little or no protection to the species, and commercial harvest control is spotty at best. In 2007 the U.S. designated the red drum as a protected game fish. The order prohibits sale of red drum caught in Federal waters and encourages states to consider designating red drum as a protected game fish within state waters, but many states, like Georgia, have failed to follow federal recommendations.

Residents and conservation groups in the state of Georgia are pushing the local legislature to pass a new law giving red drum gamefish status there. It is something that almost every other state with a redfishery has done, most decades ago. This long overdue effort is being spearheaded by a grassroots group called GeorgiaRedfish.org. Through petitioning and emailing campaigns they hope to convince local legislators of the same thing other states already know: that redfish are worth far more as a recreational quarry than on ice in commercial fish markets. The bill is being voted on this week so time is of the essence.

Visit this link and send a note to the state reps. There is a very easy email tool that allows you to send a note to the right people in just a few seconds.  GeorgeRedfish.org is asking that “HB-36 be passed in it’s original form, without any commercial quotas being added.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1301815104 Chris Weaver

    Red Fish are protected in Ga by plenty of regulation now. The fears being sold now are the same as last time…and not one proponent of this bill can produce the evidence….Which is why is was killed last time.
    Ga has already passed HB 869 which stripped control of Saltwear from the General Assembl and placed it in control of people the citizens cannot touch, the bureaucrats at the Coastal Resources Division of the DNR. The last time this was attemped it was blatant that they were seeking a new Tax to fund themselves and they have foisted junk science on the citizens to increase their control in other areas.
    Wake up. Government cedes no liberty back to the pubic once it is given.

    Here is an Article I wrote about the last “crisis”

    Before
    I learned to hunt, I learned to fish, .We were members of a community
    dock on the Skidaway River and before I learned to swim off that dock I
    was catching fish with my mother. We still have those old pictures. Me
    with a string of fish ,a Mickey Mouse fishing rod and Mom pregnant with my brother and a bandanna in her hair.
    We
    did not catch a lot of redfish in those days. We didn’t know it but you
    had to get away from the dock and the redfish stocks were not like they
    are today. Over the years I became familiar with these fish and it was a
    slow process. I was always limited by something. Lack of tackle, lack
    of skill, lack of a boat was all factors impeding my catching ability. I
    never knew I was also working in an environment that was also lacking
    in Red Fish.
    Those
    days are gone. I now have tackle, I have skill, and thanks to
    conservation grounded in science, I have plenty of Red Fish to hone my
    skills on. And in the Wassaw sound that arguably gets the most pressure
    from fishermen in the state, there are days now that I must return most
    of my fish to the water as they exceed the 23 inch limits. Returning
    oversized fish to the water is fine with me. That’s how Georgia has
    managed to maintain its stock. By collecting data and adjusting creel
    and slot limits over the years we have seen a surge in catches. Add in
    the Federal ban and State release of hatchlings and we really have gone
    along way from the early years.
    But
    there seems to be some concern among other Georgia fishermen that the
    current laws are not enough. A group known as Georgia Red Fish .Org has a
    petition drive to gather signatures to compel the state legislature to
    give the red fish the status of Game Fish. When I was alerted to this I
    was a bit confused as I had always thought that they were a game fish
    because in the DNR regulations they are listed as such. So I went
    looking for answers.
    The
    first place I looked was their web site. There was their petition
    seeking to address issues that are already covered by current law:
    Commercial sale of red fish, the methods of catching red fish, and some
    fluff about “boosting confidence in the management of the species”.
    First, the commercial harvest of red fish in state waters is already regulated.
    There is no Federal harvest. The web site had no data on the state commercial harvest of red fish.
    Second,
    the methods used to catch red fish are regulated as well. These are
    methods the lobby group did not like, but there was no data on the
    harvest rates of them.
    Their
    third point…” boosting confidence in the management of the species”, I
    do not understand at all unless it is some contrived attempt to enable
    politicians to feel better about themselves and voting for the change.
    (Note to self: when asking for legislation always include something that allows lawmakers to pat themselves on the back)

    Faced
    with no data supporting Georgia Red Fish.Org’s fears I searched
    elsewhere and found an article in Georgia Outdoor News. This article was
    written by GON staff and heavily quotes Spud Woodward, head of marine
    fisheries management for DNR’s Coastal Resources
    Division and a member of Georgia Red Fish.Org. In the article Mr.
    Woodward mentions hearing of possible violations of the red fish
    regulations, but he provides no data which is a reoccurring theme
    throughout my search. He does lament the lack of funding to boat more
    officers to patrol for violations. He suspects that there are fishermen
    selling unreported catches of red fish from their trucks, but has no
    data to support it. Mike Duckworth of Brunswick also mentions in this
    article that the law enforcement section needs to be fully funded and
    game fish status would be a valuable tool towards that end. What does
    that mean? To my ears, it sounds like a tax to fund those wants. In this
    same article, there is the notation that CCA of Ga pursued this status
    once and failed due to lack of data to show it was warranted.

    The
    next article I found was in TIDES. This article was written by Mr.
    Woodward and is filled with data on the history of the species, the
    recovery of the species, and changes in the regulations that brought
    about that recovery. However when it came to his and Georgia Red
    Fish.Org’s “concerns”, there was no data provided.
    I
    was becoming increasingly frustrated by the continuing lack of data to
    support this effort so I registered to Georgia Red Fish.Org and blogged
    my questions. They remained posted for a few days, and then my questions
    were scrubbed from the site. I reposted my request for data to support
    their claims of regulatory abuse…and I was banned from the site. Faced
    with this I emailed one of their members Captain Greg Hildreth my
    questions…and got no reply. I called another member Scott Wagner and
    left a message and have had no reply. So I decided to go to the true
    authority on the issue, Mr. Woodward.
    Mr.
    Woodward returned my call and answered my questions…and left me with no
    doubt there was something fishy going on. He specifically told me two
    times that the DNR was neutral in this lobby effort. He told me there
    was no data to support the fears of the lobby group either in the
    alternative methods of harvest or in the perceived abuse of state
    commercial regulations. This I found disturbing. He did say there was a
    new study due out this year. I asked if by writing so glowingly of the
    lobby’s efforts he was giving credibility to their cause. He said “I can
    see where it could look like that”. He then gave me a line that I had
    read in one of the articles…”this game fish status would be an important
    tool for conservation”. I asked if that tool would provide leverage to
    make it easier to regulate/reduce creel and slot sizes. He said again,
    “I can see where it could look like that”. I asked if it would be easier
    to implement a Tax to fund the DNR’s needs with the new status.
    He replied, “a tax?”
    “Yes, a redfish Stamp to harvest the fish.”
    “I can see where it could look like that”.
    While
    not a definitive yes or no, knowing the way government works, and years
    of parsing political speak, I took that as a yes. It would be easier to
    enact an additional tax to harvest a fish. That is on top of the tax
    already charged to fish in state water.
    Mr.
    Woodward was very polite and I do not know if it was his deep voice or
    not, but he certainly sounded resigned in answering my questions.
    (
    I discovered later via an errant CC on an email the gang at CRD and
    their friends in Savannah and the State were very disturbed about my
    inquires and subsequent relaying of information to member of the GA and
    were pondering what do about me.)

    I
    find this behavior very disturbing. One on the part of special interest
    lobby groups who seek government action to make it easier for agencies
    to increase regulation and tax citizens for their programs based on
    nothing more than concerns.
    Second,
    the actions of Mr. Woodward lend credibility to the lobbies cause. I
    have a degree in Biology, and somehow I thought that conservation should
    utilize science as a mechanism to plan and set goals…but here is a
    “neutral” state agency appearing to work with a private lobby to base
    conservation planning on speculation and hearsay.

    The
    proponents of this status use words like limit, release, and “redfish
    are too valuable to catch just once”. As much as it costs to spend a day
    on the water fishing, I value and want to keep my creel limits. Some
    fly fishermen love just catching the fish, I take much more enjoyment.
    Not only do I enjoy catching red fish, I enjoy sharing the meal with my
    family. I do not want to be reduced to 2 trips to accumulate that meal
    if there is no data to show that stocks are in decline and require a
    reduction in creel limits. I do not want an added cost in the form of a
    red fish stamp.

    There
    is a disturbing trend in the world right now. It is the Management and
    Art of the Crisis. Everywhere we look the sky is falling and people are
    telling us rapid action is required and we must be proactive. Action is
    taxes and new laws to arrest the crisis, proactive in this case means
    doing something before the facts are found. That is what I see in the
    Red Fish Crisis. Much like Global warming, the data is incomplete yet
    there is a clear path to redemption. And along the way the money will
    flow to those making a living pointing at the sky. Like the anti gun
    crowd, more law will soothe their concerns but not affect anyone
    breaking the law. Only those of us that follow the law will be affected.

    I
    take great offense in special interests presuming to know what is best
    for me and my remaining liberties. I am further appalled by the glossy
    manner they use to side step facts and utilize fear to aid their cause.
    Governments tend not to increase freedom. I think great care should be
    taken before yielding any more to them, especially at the urging of
    special interests and not the citizens in mass.

  • Gary S

    Mr Weaver’s political harangue is heavily peppered with the vertical pronoun: I. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?