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January 20, 2012

Plans set for March national fishing rally in D.C.

Commercial and recreational fishing interests today announced plans for a March 21 mass demonstration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., to energize the push for amending the law that directs the regulation of America's fisheries, a little more than two years after the 2010 "United We Fish" rally turned up the national heat on regulatory and enforcement issues.

The 2012 "Keep Fishermen Fishing" rally was announced this morning in a release that focuses on the organizers' foes — "a handful of mega-foundations and the anti-fishing ENGOs (environmental non-government organizations) they support to drive fishermen off the water."

To do that, demonstration organizers contend, nonprofit giants such as Environmental Defense Fund have influenced the government to misinterpret the 1976 Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries and Conservation Act, which was amended significantly in 1996 and 2006.

Since the first mass rally, which drew as many as 5,000 participants on Feb. 23, 2010, the fisheries policies of the Obama administration — embodied by NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, who came to office from academia and a board of director's post with EDF, have produced fierce resistance on the water and in Congress to the green-government power bloc.

Among the changes sought is the flexibility of time frames for rebuilding stocks, rather than clamping down fishing limits organizers say unduly harm the industry and fishing communities.

The most hotly disputed policy is the administration's effort to transform fishermen's catch into tradeable commodities through an allocation of catch shares.

The epicenter of the fight has become Massachusetts and New England, which came under a catch share regimen in 2010 and has been undergoing accelerated job loss and consolidation of control. But in the Southeast, the Gulf, the West Coast and Alaska, resistance has also continued to policies perceived to be influenced by corporate foundations and ENGO clients such EDF and the Pew Environment Group.

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