THE DC RALLY FOR FISHERMEN'S RIGHTSFebruary 24, 2010, noon.
The fishermen's rally in Washington DC has been set for two months - it's been two decades in the making.
When the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) closed the recreational amberjack fishery on October 24, it was essentially the shot heard round the American docks. NMFS had made a similar emergency closure on the black sea bass fishery in federal waters just three weeks prior - a fishery which remains closed to recreational fishermen to this day - while the decision had already been made through NMFS and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to close all bottom fishing in over 1000 square miles of coastal waters from North Carolina to Florida to protect and rebuild the red snapper populations.
As stated in a recent blast to members, the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) has been quite vocal in our opposition to "time-specific" deadlines and the arbitrary, non-scientific provisions contained within our federal fisheries law, the Magnuson Stevens Act (MSA). The inflexibility of the fisheries law to respond to an ever-changing marine ecosystem coupled with grossly inadequate management information systems within our federal fisheries service is contributing to a major industry collapse which has been felt throughout our coastal communities.
On Wednesday, February 24, several thousand coastal fishermen from as far away as Alaska will assemble at Area 2 next to the Capitol building in Washington DC to rally for reform of our federal fisheries law.
Those fishermen planning to attend should remember that the rally has been coordinated in an effort to reform Magnuson. At precisely 12 noon, the rally will kick off with presentations by key Senators and Congressmen who are supporting our efforts in the fishing community to add common sense to the federal fisheries law through passage of Senate Bill 1255 and House Bill 1584. As written, the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act would allow the Secretary of Commerce limited flexibility to make important fisheries management decisions in extending the 10-year rebuilding timeframe for coastal fisheries currently on a positive rebuilding trend.
Click here to familiarize yourself with HR1584/S1255.
Field Marshalls and Crowd Marshalls (look for the orange hats) will be helping coordinate foot traffic between Union Station and Area 2 by the Capitol and will strictly monitoring activities along the rally grounds. If any counter-demonstrators (think PETA, etc.) or hecklers provide a problem, quickly notify one of the Marshalls or find a Uniformed Police Officer.
Do not engage any hecklers or counter-protestors!
Also, please avoid confrontational behavior and remain respectful. If a rally participant or heckler becomes dangerous or overly confrontational, please contact a Uniformed Police Officer.
This is the first time in history that members of the recreational sector are united with America's commercial fishermen in a call for fisheries reform - our differences on gear and allocation will continue in the days ahead, but on February 24th, we are united in a call for open access to healthy, sustainable fisheries.
If there is an emergency at any location during the Rally or March, immediately call "911" on your cell phone, or contact a Uniformed Police Officer. An ambulance will be stationed nearby to respond immediately. All incidents should be reported one of the Marshalls (orange hats) or a Uniformed Police Officer. Several trained medical personnel will be roaming the crowd with AEDs for possible heart attack victims. Call an ambulance first, then alert one of these people!
No drinking, no profanity, and avoid all confrontation! A peaceful, respectful rally will help us win in DC on February 24th, and will ensure a most memorable and truly historic event.