It's not clear to me why Bush would bother. Striped bass populations are recovering, to say the least, from record low levels 30 years ago and commercial fishermen are essentially small businesses who could benefit if commercial fishing restrictions were lifted. So why make the restrictions permanent?
Bush's action got no publicity up here but was covered further south. The Outer Banks Sentinel, in North Carolina, pointed out that the executive order received strong support froma group called the Coastal Conservation Association. Its chairman seems to be one of Bush's cronies:
Connaughton said the Bush administration has discussed the management of striped bass and red drum with the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) and other recreational fishing interests over the past couple of years. The CCA, an organization of sportfishermen and associated industries, began in Texas in 1977 with a campaign to make red drum, more commonly called redfish along the Gulf of Mexico, and speckled trout gamefish. The organization has secured gamefish status for red drum in all Gulf coast states except Mississippi. Walter Fondren, CCA national chairman, was present at the announcement ceremony in Maryland on Saturday. "This administration's alignment with the CCA and Walter Fondren and other rich Texas oil men doesn't surprise me," said Willie Etheridge, owner of Etheridge Seafood in Wanchese. Fondren's family helped pioneer the oil industry in Texas. "Still, it's mind-boggling that my President would hand over the resource exclusively to the small group of people who fish for striped bass and red drum for fun," said Etheridge.
But my question is does this executive order have any relevance in New York or Connecticut? I'm guessing that the Hudson River and Long Island Sound are not federal waters. The Atlantic probably is but maybe New York controls the waters of the Atlantic close to shore.
Bryan Brown, who used to live on Long Island's north shore but recently moved to Texas, asked me about Bush's order the other day and I responded that it reminded me of the conflict that Peter Mathiessen wrote about in Men's Lives -- essentially a resource allocation conflict. Bryan then Googled it and came up with a chapter from the book (here) that explains some of its history on the east end of Long Island.
Matthiessen was a strong supporter of the commercial fishermen.
This used to be the kind of issue that would engage Riverkeeper and its predecessor, the Hudson River Fishermen's Association. Coincidentally, Matthiessen's son, Alex, is the executive director of Riverkeeper. I can't find anything on the group's website about the issue. But maybe that's because the Hudson isn't federal waters. There's nothing on the Waterkeeper Alliance website either; that's Bobby Kennedy Jr.'s organization and the parent of the various Riverkeepers, Soundkeepers etc.
The best coverage I've seen, by the way, is from the Outer Banks Sentinel, here and here.
Labels: Striped bass