A reader recently complained to me about a News Brief that appeared in the magazine. It concerned the revitalized artificial reef program mandated by Governor Andrew Cuomo and developed by New York’s Department of Conservation. Obviously not a fan of the governor for reasons he did not divulge, he felt that by running that news item we were promoting the candidacy of the governor and that we should not be engaging in politics. “You should just be writing about fishing,” were his parting words.
How I wish that were true. In a perfect world, fishing would be free of the annoying and stressful nuances that make up everyday life. In fact, many of us go fishing in large part to get away from such burdens. And, yes it would be nice if we didn’t have to be concerned with issues such as fishery management, marine resources, access and regulations but that is far from reality. I’m afraid that just going out and fishing without paying attention to the many factors that can affect our ability to enjoy, and continue to practice the sport, just doesn’t work in this day and age.
The resurrection of New York’s artificial reef building program has been a major shot in the arm to many anglers who enjoy fishing for species like blackfish, sea bass, porgies and fluke, and also the recreational fishing industry. It directly impacts businesses like tackle shops, bait and tackle distributors, and party and charter boats, and is news certainly worth sharing with the angling public.
There are politicians at every level who understand the economic importance of fishing to the economy, and more important, understand the value of the fishing lifestyle to people living on an island surrounded by water. There are also politicians at every level who could care less about recreational fishing and wouldn’t know which end of the rod to hold if you stuck one in their hand. And then there are those in public office who are anti-fishing, and would go out of their way to curtail fishing opportunities. Who would you rather have in office?
With Election Day still fresh in our minds, had you given any thought to how those you voted for might impact your ability to enjoy fishing in the years ahead? U.S. senators and congressmen can have an impact on some of the broader fisheries issues, while on the local level, state senators and assemblymen/women can directly impact your fishing on the local level by the way they vote and lobby for certain issues. Those legislators already in office have local offices where you can visit and bring your concerns to them and their aides. This could result in valuable information in helping which way to vote the next time around. If fishing is an important part of your life, shouldn’t that at least be a consideration when casting your next vote for those in a position to improve or maintain your fishing opportunities?
Granted there are other issues, some of which may be of even greater concern than fishing for some people. Health care, right to life, taxation and a host of other concerns are passionate issues for many individuals, and it is those things we are most passionate about that often factor into who we vote for. If you take your fishing seriously, then fishing should be part of the decision making process.
While who you vote for can make a difference, so can getting involved in a fishing club or organizations such as the Long Island Beach Buggy Association, Fishermen’s Conservation Association, Montauk Surfcasters, Coastal Conservation Association, New York Sportfishing Federation and Recreational Fishing Association. These groups serve as watch dogs and advocates on issues affecting recreational fishing.
Like it or not, fishing and politics may make strange bedfellows, but they do indeed mix.