- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Last week an outfit called Environmental Defense applauded Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez’s effort to modernize how the federal government governs fishing.

Guitierrez is proposing amendments to the nation’s primary fisheries management law. One of those proposals includes giving commercial fishermen ownership shares in the stock of the fish they target, called dedicated access privileges (DAPs) in fishery law terms. The proposed amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act explicitly authorize doubling the existing number of these programs.

A commercial fishing group headquartered in Alaska enthusiastically supports any plan for owning shares in available fish stocks.

Whatever you believe is good or bad here, everybody better hurry because at the rate the commercial fish netters are going there won’t be any fish left to share.

Environmental Defense claims catch shares are one of the most economically attractive ways to fish. Under this system, fishermen are allocated shares of the annual catch, which they can buy and sell with other boats to meet their business needs. Instead of government mandates limiting fishermen’s flexibility, catch shares allow fishermen to work year-round when they judge market and weather conditions to be right. Catch shares help save fishermen money by cutting harvesting costs, improving the quality of their fish and dockside prices and saving millions of fish each year.

Meanwhile, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Marine Conservation Working Group, a coalition representing the sportfishing industry, state fish and wildlife agencies, conservationists and saltwater anglers, expressed particular support for federal provisions that can improve recreational data collection in federal and other coastal waters.

The TRCP-MCWG is made up of the American Sportfishing Association, the Coastal Conservation Association, the International Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and Environmental Defense.

The coalition is focused on implementing a state license system for salt water recreational fishing; establishing appropriate marine protected areas guidelines; reducing the use of destructive fishing gear; and improving allocation of the marine fishery resource.

Deer and CWD — More chronic wasting disease (CWD) might have been found in three deer in West Virginia’s Hampshire County. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources said three free-ranging whitetailed deer collected in the county as part of an intensive CWD surveillance effort tested “suspect positive” for the deadly disease.

The University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory screened the samples, but more tests will be done to make sure.

“I want to stress that these results are preliminary and identify the need for more definitive testing,” said West Virginia’s DNR director Frank Jezioro.

Earlier this month, one whitetailed deer was confirmed as positive for CWD in Hampshire County. CWD is a neurological disease found in deer and elk. The disease attacks the brain of infected deer and elk, causing the animals to quickly become emaciated, display abnormal behavior and eventually die. There is no evidence to suggest CWD poses a danger to humans or domestic animals.

NRA wins a big one — The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District in Louisiana a little more than a week ago agreed with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and issued a restraining order to bar further gun confiscations from law-abiding victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

“This is a significant victory for freedom and for the victims of Hurricane Katrina,” said NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre.

The controversy erupted when the New Orleans superintendent of police directed that no civilians in the city be allowed to have guns and that “only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons.” At the time, ABC News quoted New Orleans’ deputy police chief, who said, “No one will be able to be armed. We are going to take all the weapons.”

To which the NRA said, “Not so fast, fellows,” and then went to court. Apparently, some social engineers believe the Second Amendment to the Constitution can be canceled whenever the mood strikes them.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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