- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pro-hunting group U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and 15 other national hunter/conservation organizations are deeply disappointed over last week’s Senate vote to confirm President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Cass Sunstein.

Sunstein is widely viewed as a proponent of animal rights, as against hunting and - although he denies it - as anti-Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms. But what really has the sportsmen organizations ticked off is the list of “Yea” votes delivered by senators who were thought to be firmly on the side of hunters.

“Of the 63 senators that voted in favor of Sunstein, 22 were members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus,” a flabbergasted USSA spokesman said.

“We are disappointed with the outcome of [the] vote, especially that so many members of the Senate claiming to be pro-sportsman voted in favor of a nominee who has expressed that recreational hunting could be banned,” USSA president Bud Pidgeon said. “Sportsmen all across America will clearly be able to see which senators [were] were willing to stand up for them.”

The USSA and others argued that Sunstein’s position can pose a threat to shooters and hunters, given the potential harm Sunstein’s office is able to wreak as it implements federal rules that might affect gun owners among many other things.

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (a Democrat) voted to confirm Sunstein, but Sen. Jim Webb (Democrat) voted “No.” Maryland’s Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin (both Democrats) voted to confirm Sunstein.

Weakfish plan considered - The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Weakfish Management Board meets at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 28 via conference call to review and consider approval of a draft addendum to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Weakfish. The public is invited to review the plan and offer comments.

The draft addendum was developed in response to the low numbers of weakfish (gray sea trout). It will propose a range of options to reduce fishing mortality, including complete harvest moratoria and limited by catch-only fisheries.

Go to the Commission’s Web site (www.asmfc.org/meetings) for instructions to join the call. For more information, call Nichola Meserve, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 202/289-6400, or e-mail [email protected]

Will gill nets get larger? - The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Sept. 28 in the Tawes Building in Annapolis to discuss a proposal that would increase the length of commercial gill nets from the current length of 2,400 yards to 3,500. The Coastal Conservation Association Maryland said if this is allowed it will have a drastic negative impact on recreational fishing in the Chesapeake Bay.

The CCA said commercial fishermen easily meet their quota with the current net length, claiming that in January 2009 there was a 108,000-pound overrun in the commercial quota. The CCA also knows gill nets are among the toughest gear for the Natural Resources Police to monitor. For more information, contact Scott McGuire, [email protected] or 301/752-3623.

Smallmouth club meeting - The Potomac River Smallmouth Club will meet at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Vienna Fire Station on Center Street. The public is invited. During the meeting, club members will share their favorite fishing techniques, skills and fine points of rigging lures as well as other equipment and their uses. There will be eight tables, and guests are encouraged to move from table to table to learn from as many experts as possible. For more information, e-mail [email protected]

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times.

E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com. Mueller’s Inside Outside blog can be found at www.washingtontimes.com/ sports.

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