The Politics of Fishing: Blue or Red?

Fishing doesn’t belong to the red states or the blue sates, it is a true purple state issue and it is unconscionable that some are attempting to turn fishing into a partisan issue. An ESPN columnist and a couple conservative talk show hosts have been repeating a false rumor that President Obama wants to ban fishing in the United States.

Hitler’s propaganda genius Joseph Geobbels once said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” And this is one big fish tale that people are starting to believe because of a lie being spread through the entertainment media. It started with a rumor that ESPN opinion writer Robert Montgomery printed and then talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck took the unsubstantiated claim and ran with it – surely it boosted ratings, but at what cost to the fishing public?

Jeffrey Weeks of the Charlotte Examiner who has spent column after column been trying to dispel the mythical policy statements believes that more harm than good will come from encouraging this falsehood. After explaining the lie, he wrote:

“There are huge dangers in what is happening for the American recreational angler. If we allow extreme right-wing conservatives to become the national spokesmen for us as fishermen against the Obama Administration and environmental groups, we run the risk of actually encouraging the over-regulation of fishing in the USA.
The truth of the matter, as I have repeatedly stated since ESPN started the Obama fishing ban myth earlier this week, is that the administration Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force is likely to recommend broad potential regulations on some ocean fishing which will not affect average recreational fishermen at all.”

But if you read the comments on Weeks column it is as if the Limbaugh and Beck fans just don’t want to believe the truth. That is why it is so significant that on March 10, NOAH’s Eric Schwaab released the following statement on NOAH letterhead:

“The Ocean Policy Task Force has not recommended a ban on recreational

The draft reports by the Ocean Policy Task Force do not contain a zoning map
and do not establish any restrictions on recreational fishing, nor make any
judgments about whether one ocean activity or use is better than another.
Instead, the reports set up a policy and framework for effectively managing the
many sustainable uses of the ocean while upholding our responsibility to be
stewards of our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes.

As a member of the task force, NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco, has
said, and I echo her on this, that saltwater recreational fishing is vital to this
nation and NOAA is committed to building a strong partnership with America’s
saltwater anglers to ensure that Americans have opportunities to fish sustainably
for generations to come.

Saltwater recreational fishing matters to me on a personal level as a recreational
fisherman, it matters to millions of Americans who enjoy this great sport and it
matters to our economy.”

The letter goes on to say that the Task Force will work closely with anglers to ensure future generations of enjoyment for the fishing community.

So there you have it. Good for you Weeks for shouting truth from the proverbial mountain tops. You are not alone – we hear you and we agree. Fishing is not a partisan issue and should never be treated as such.

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