Read about my new show 'Fishing Wars: Drowning in Regulations'
Salt water. Seagulls. Striped bass.
My fondest childhood memories come from fishing with my dad on the creaky piers and slick jetties of the Jersey shore. The Atlantic Ocean is in my blood. So when fishing families in New England reached out to me for help spreading word about their economic and regulatory struggles, I immediately heeded their call.
Now, these "forgotten men and women" of America hope the Trump administration will listen. And act.
The plague on the commercial fishing industry isn't "overfishing," as environmental extremists and government officials claim. The real threats to Northeastern groundfishermen are self-perpetuating bureaucrats, armed with outdated junk science, who've manufactured a crisis that endangers a way of life older than the colonies themselves.
Hardworking crews and captains have the deepest stake in responsible fisheries management -- it's their past, present, and future -- but federal paper-pushers monitor them ruthlessly like registered sex offenders.
Generations of schoolchildren have been brainwashed into believing that our seas have been depleted by greedy commercial fishermen. In the 1960s and 1970s, it is true, foreign factory trawlers from Russia and Japan pillaged coastal groundfish stocks. But after the domestic fishing industry regained control of our waters, stocks rebounded.
Reality, however, did not fit the agenda of scare-mongering environmentalists and regulators who need a perpetual crisis to justify their existence. To cure a manufactured "shortage" of bottom-dwelling groundfish, Washington micromanagers created a permanent thicket of regional fishery management councils, designated fishing zones, annual catch limits, individual catch limits and "observers" mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
Even more frustrating for the fishing families who know the habitat best, the federal scientists' trawler surveys for assessing stocks use faulty nets that vastly underestimate stock abundance.
Meghan Lapp, a lifelong fisherwoman and conservation biologist, points out that government surveyors use a "net that's not the right size for the vessel," which produces "a stock assessment that shows artificially low numbers. The fishing does not match what the fishermen see on the water."
Instead of fixing the science, top-down bureaucrats have cracked down on groundfishermen who fail to comply with impossible and unreasonable rules and regulations. The observer program, which was intended to provide biological data and research, was expanded administratively (not by Congress) to create "At Sea Monitors" who act solely as enforcement agents.