This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

August 26th, 2002

Politics and Fly Fishing

We've had comments from time to time saying fly fishing and this website should not be political. In fact, we have stated in our Bulletin Board Rules, Rules, Policies, and Disclaimers:

"You agree, through your use of this service, that you will not use this BB to post any material which is knowingly false and/or defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, invasive of a person's privacy, or otherwise violation of any law. You agree not to post any copyrighted material unless the copyright is owned by you or by this BB."

It does not say you can't express a political opinion or view - but unfortunately it is difficult for many to do so without resorting to "false and/or defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane" language, so we do discourage 'political' comments.

The truth is most of what happens in our fly fishing world is political. Before you get the sign out saying the "LadyFisher is a Nut Case," hear me out.

Who makes the regulations on our fisheries? Seasons or not, catch and release or catch and keep, limits on size, to stock or not to stock, introduction of new species, license costs, protection of the watershed, closure of streams or waters, endangered species? It's not you and me. It is people who are appointed or elected to the Fish and Game Commission of each state. Either way, the biologists can produce and explain their finding, opinions, and surveys. They aren't the ones who make the regulations and decisions.

I don't know what the make-up of your state Fish and Game Commission is, and I'm so disgusted with ours here in Washington State that I haven't followed all the current commissioners either, but a year ago, we had one person, Peter Van Gytenbeek, on the commission who actually knew anything. Peter was very involved in the Floridia Save Our Sealife (SOS) campaign which eventually succeeded in getting in-shore netting banned there. He was also the first paid Executive Director of Trout Unlimited, and later President of the FFF. The commissioners here have to be 'approved' by the state legislature, who withheld approval of Peter for over a year. (Not political?) He hung in and is officially a commissioner. The rest of the group really has no background, one was a landscaper, another a farmer's wife whose husband contributed heavily to the now governor's last election campaign. So much for the voice of women in government.

It is pathetic. But it gets worse. Those appointed to the groups which set the number of fish to be taken between the United States and Canada, and also the numbers of fish which the tribal and First Nations can catch is again 'appointed.' For Washington they are usually former employees of the state fisheries department or former heads of departments. Vested interested? Does an opposing view to the current party in office ever get appointed as a department head?

So the same old continues.

How about those who are in charge of the threatened or endangered species? What is their specific background on fisheries? Their education? What is their track record? Or are they again political appointments?

Doesn't anyone care?

If the 'greenies' of the world can have their agenda in the United States Department of Interior and our excise tax money used to promote that agenda, is there another term other than 'political' to describe it?

I spoke of a 'ban the nets' action in Florida. The same kind of proposal has failed two or three times here in Washington. One of the reasons is of course, political - everyone wants control over the fishery. The save-the-salmon people want netting to stop, surprisingly, groups like the Sierra Club and Audubon opposed it! That one makes no sense at all, unless you 'follow the money' and realize if there were lots of salmon the groups raising money to 'save' the fish would have to find another cause. This one works. I don't care if those groups are conservative or liberal, it stinks.

Is that political? What else would you call it?

On the television, radio and print every day are various comments, editorials and columns about the downfall of our country due to: global warming or not, over consumption, SUV's, greed, greenhouse gasses, acid rain, and on and on. Attack! Are the Democrats the savior of our nation? Or the Republicans? Or Ralph Nader? I suspect none of those.

Our fly fishing, the waters we fish, the laws covering how and when we may fish are all controlled by political entities. The use of the excise tax money (10%) we pay on all of our fishing stuff is controlled by political entities.

You may not like it, I certainly don't - but you need to know it. You need to be informed, and we at Fly Anglers OnLine will continue to try to do that. If all we accomplish is to make our readers aware of what is happening, one person at a time, we will help to make informed voters. Don't be afraid to ask questions of those running for office. If you don't get a straight answer, don't vote for them.

Perhaps you don't think you are 'political' or that what happens in local, state or national elections doesn't affect your fishing. Wrong.

It can be as close to home as a local zoning board granting a new Wally World next to, or on top of a local wetland. Or paving over several acres next to a fine trout stream for a parking lot. It starts at home and carries on through the Federal government.

November is coming soon. Elections are here again. Inform yourself - and VOTE! ~ LadyFisher

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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