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Gulf Charter Captains Unite


When Charter Fisherman’s Association Speaks, It’s EDF Money that’s Talking In the last six weeks, we’ve made more progress toward improving the Magnuson-Stevens Act on behalf of recreational anglers than at any time in the last six years. When you look at how far we’ve come — passage by the full U.S. House of Representatives of Magnuson-Stevens modernization; approval by the Senate Commerce Committee of the Rubio-Nelson Fisheries Management bill, and introduction just last week of Rep. Garret Graves’ H.R.3094 bipartisan legislation to recognize the Gulf States’ historic cooperative plan for improved red snapper fishery management — there’s no question we are gaining major yardage. That’s why the shrill rhetoric of our adversaries is reaching new heights. Vastly unpopular in the Gulf region, the Environmental Defense Fund must operate under pseudonyms. One alias (of many) is the “Charter Fisherman’s Association.” Heavily funded by the Washington mega-lobbyists at EDF, when CFA speaks, it’s EDF money doing the talking — and this week, they’ve been doing a lot of it. My friend Bob Zales is the well-known president of the Panama City Boatmen Association with real-life bona fides as president of the National Association of Charterboat Operators (NACO). Bob’s perspective: “If you poll the 1,300 federally permitted charter vessel owners in the Gulf, over two-thirds would support the proposed five Gulf State plan and legislation recently introduced in the House.” Zales added, “Charter Fishermans Association is an Environmental Defense Fund-created and -funded association to help push the EDF agenda. Their membership does not represent the majority of charter boat owners in the Gulf. They are heavily financed by EDF so are able to make a lot of noise in key areas. The grass roots charter boat owner is not able to be heard as loudly since they cannot afford to travel to DC, all of the Gulf Council meetings, or areas where a few who are financially supported can.” Zales speaks the truth. Federally permitted charter owners know, just like we do, that federal Gulf red snapper fishery management is badly broken. These hard-working folks are no more supportive of the status quo than we are, and they trust the states to do a better job, just like we do. Still, EDF’s money buys a lot of talk — and we have to make sure our Representatives and Senators hear the truth. We’re making progress, but we can’t stop now. Now’s the time to redouble our efforts to seek out our elected representatives when they conduct Town Hall meetings or hold office hours during the upcoming August Congressional Recess. Tell your elected representatives how important it is to modernize the Magnuson-Stevens Act so recreational anglers like us can have a fair shake. Remind them of the jobs we create and the money we contribute to fisheries conservation. Tell them, “I fish — I fish and I vote.” Jeff Angers Center for Coastal Conservation