Written by Linc Bedrosian
January 19, 2012
It's time to get on the bus, folks. Plans are afoot once more to have commercial and recreational fishermen alike gather in Washington, D.C., in March for a rally aiming to support efforts to amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
The rally's organizers, Keep Fishermen Fishing, say the law "has been transformed from its original intent, to conserve our nation's fish and support our nation's fishermen, into a weapon employed by a handful of megafoundations and the anti-fishing ENGOs they support to drive fishermen off the water."
The inspiration for the demonstration is the February 2010 United We Fish rally, which brought an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 commercial and recreational fishermen together in the nation's capitol. It, too, sought to shed light upon the plight of U.S. fishermen and to back legislation aiming to make Magnuson-Stevens stock rebuilding timelines more flexible.
That 2010 rally attracted plenty of media coverage, and the support of more than two dozen Congressmen and Senators from both sides of the aisle as well as state lawmakers and mayors.
Despite the impressive turnout of fishermen who stated their dissatisfaction in no uncertain terms, the bills to amend Magnuson-Stevens fizzled. Does that mean the rally was a bust?
No, not considering the glacial pace at which anything in Washington gets done. The 2010 rally garnered mainstream media coverage, exposing John and Jane Q. Public to the plight of U.S. fishermen. But more importantly, it showed fishermen gained the ear of politicians. And as the latest bills to amend Magnuson-Stevens attest, they've been able to maintain that support.
So it will be well worth it for fishermen to attend the March 24 Keep Fishermen Fishing rally. For more information on the rally as it becomes available, including bus sign-up information and details from the 2010 rally, visit the Keep Fishermen Fishing website and the organization's Facebook page.
The major rallying cry in 2010 was "I fish! I vote!" In the presidential election year of 2012, fishermen who want to preserve this historic and important industry that's been feeding Americans for more than 400 years, will head to Washington once more to say it loud and proud, "I fish! I vote!"
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