The Wizardry Behind Fishery Management

Summary: FLORIDA — Like Dorothy’s Wizard, the main force driving the new paradigms in fishery management policy today have remained relatively hidden, cloaked in an obscure fog of distant international environmental policy meetings. It’s now past time to pull back the curtain and see exactly who is back there, writes Sid Preskitt.

Full text:

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and Toto were caught up and swept away by the strong winds of a tornado. Today, fisherman likewise are caught in the whirlwinds of change and in general have a helpless feeling of "being under attack". In any battle, it is essential to have an understanding of exactly who is attacking you to have any hope of prevailing over your opponent. Like Dorothy’s Wizard, the main force driving the new paradigms in fishery management policy today have remained relatively hidden, cloaked in an obscure fog of distant international environmental policy meetings. It’s now past time to pull back the curtain and see exactly who is back there.

The concept of Marine Protected Areas began to come to the attention of fishermen around 1993, soon after the United Nations held a conference in Rio de Janerio which became known as the "Earth Summit". This meeting saw the introduction of a treaty known as The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) with its companion documents, The Global Biodiversity Assessment (GBA), Agenda 21, and The Rio Declaration,

The Introduction to Agenda 21 states that "Agenda 21 stands as a comprehensive blueprint for action to be taken globally — from now into the twenty first century — by governments, United Nations organizations and independent-sector groups, in every area in which human activity impacts on the environment". This "blueprint for action" will be implemented through what is called "Sustainable Development", a benign-sounding catch phrase which actually translates into tightly regimented regulation over all human activity.

With this declaration the United Nations set sail in earnest, now equipped with the tools to completely restructure the fabric of our society.

Upon receiving the incomplete treaty the U. S. Senate requested the "Scientific Study" which was mandated in Article 25 of the CBD and is the implementing mechanism. The word came back that it had not been written yet, but to go ahead and ratify it anyway. In the Senate debate Senator Kay Bailey Hutcheson alarmingly pointed out that the details would be written after the ratification and moreover were "not subject to reservation".

Regardless of these facts, the Senate was one day away from complying with the audacious demand of the U.N. and was ready to vote when Dr. Michael Coffman, an eminently qualified environmental scientist, was able to obtain a copy of the 1000-plus page U.N. Global Biodiversity Assessment (GBA) and Agenda 21, from a United Nations office overseas. When the radical nature of the CBD was presented to Congress, the ratification process was halted in its tracks.

This setback was hardly an obstacle to the Clinton Administration, which operated with little regard to the Constitution, but more as presidential aide Paul Bergala succinctly put it: "stroke of the pen, law of the land. Kinda cool huh?" Clinton quickly formed the President’s Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD) with Executive Order 12852 and charged it with implementing the provisions of the un-ratified Convention and Agenda 21. The non-elected members of the PCSD promptly issued 154 specific public policy recommendations to be implemented throughout America.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in a 1993 internal working document released before the CBD was given to the Senate, actually called for its implementation: it specified that all land use programs instituted should follow the strategy laid out by the PCSD and Agenda 21; "Natural resource (NMFS) and environmental agencies… [should]develop a joint strategy to help the United States fulfill its international obligations [e.g. Convention on Biodiversity and Agenda 21]. The Executive Branch should direct federal agencies to evaluate national policies… in light of international obligations, and to amend national policies to achieve international objectives".

The National Marine Fisheries Service was soon designated by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as "the lead NOAA Line Office on marine and coastal Convention of Biological Diversity issues" and followed suit in amending "…national policies to achieve international objectives" by implementing the "Essential Fish Habitat" management paradigm.

Dr. Aleta Hohn, of the Southeast Fisheries Science Center Beaufort Lab, wrote an article, published in the October 1997 issue of "The South Atlantic (Fishery Management Council) Update", in which she explained that "The objectives of conservation and enhancement of "Essential Fish Habitat" are parallel to objectives of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, a binding international agreement which entered into force in 1993". Further… "In 1995, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) held a meeting to address another particular concern of marine resource managers and scientist, the effects of land-based activities. The resulting ‘Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land Based Activities’ identified two objectives to be accomplished… {Once} again, these objectives are similar to those promoted under the CBD, by the National Research Council, and as part of the EFI process". Listed as an Objective of the UNEP is: "establish marine protected areas…" Dr. Hohn also relates in this article that "…the Magnuson-Stevens Act closely parallels the recommendations of… international forums".

These extraordinary statements go a long way in making clear that our fishery management policies have been hijacked by forces foreign to our shores and foreign to our way of life. This is evidenced further with the adoption of the Rio Declaration (signed by Bush) which re-affirms the U.S. commitment to the goals the UN laid out. Principal 15 states that "In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by states according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation".

The "Precautionary Approach" was incorporated into the Magnuson-Stevens Act as "Risk Adverse Management", where no empirical scientific evidence of any problem is necessary to precipitate action. This is exactly the reason the Red Porgy fishery was shut down for 18 years off the coast of four states in the southeast. NMFS perceived a problem with the fishery off North Carolina and by emergency action closed down the fishery despite testimony by Porgy fishermen in Florida and Georgia that Porgies were plentiful there.

Agenda 21 also mandates the use of the "Precautionary Approach", also known as the precautionary principle. It also calls for reductions in "Overcapitalization" and reductions in fishing fleet size. Accordingly the NMFS has been implementing "License Limitations" plans. one example is Amendment 8 to the South Atlantic Snapper Grouper Management Plan passed in 1998. This resulted in approximately 75 percent of the permit holders in that fishery losing the ability to renew their permits. NMFS explained that the fishery was "overcapitalized"

In January 1999 a letter signed by six U.S. Senators was sent to James F. Hinchman, G.A.O. Comptroller General voicing their concern that "The fishery rebuilding provisions contained in the Sustainable Fisheries Act 16 U.S.C. 1854 (e) appear poised to require significant additional restrictions on fishing effort". Following suit, the Gulf Management council is currently proposing a new round of regulations in the King Mackeral fishery comprised of a "license limitation" system with restrictive "Individual Fishing Quotas".

Although the CBD is still an unratified Treaty, in today’s upside down world it simply makes no difference. Former Senator Connie Mack stated in a personal letter that "…the spirit of the Convention is now federal law in accordance with the passage of the Sustainable Fisheries Act… which reauthorized and amended the Magnuson-Stevens Act" [to conform to the wishes of the UN].

Dr. Coffman, author of "Saviors of the Earth?" referred to the treaty as the most anti-human document he had seen. one of the features imbedded inside are plans to implement "The Wildlands Project" designed in part by Dave Foreman, co-founder and long time leader of "Earth First", widely known as an "eco-terrorist" group for activities such as "spiking" trees. Mr. Foreman was arrested in 1989 for his association with a bombing.

The goal of The Wildlands Project is the removal of the rural populations and returning "at least 50 percent" of the land mass of the continental United States to "Wilderness" with "little or no human use". Foreman, in a special issue of "Wild Earth" magazine described the plan as "…a bold attempt to grope our way back to October 1492…". Foreman also makes his contempt for those in rural America that oppose his grand scheme clear with this assessment "…youngsters leaving the farm…over the years has resulted in a gradual but significant dumbing down of rural America". The editor of "Wild Earth" magazine, which published a special edition devoted to the Wildlands Project, stated "Does all the foregoing mean that Wild Earth and The Wildlands Project advocate the end of industrial civilization? Most assuredly, Everything civilized must go".

Central to "The Wildlands Project" design are "Core Wilderness Areas to be managed as roadless areas (wilderness). All roads should be permanently closed". These Core Wilderness Areas are to be connected to others in spider web fashion with interconnecting wildlife corridors, all surrounded with highly regulated "Buffer Zones" allowing "limited human use". Clinton then instructed the U.S. Forest Service to move forward with plans to close down public access to an additional 43 million acres of land.

Florida is implementing The Wildlands Project through its newly enacted "Plan for a Statewide System of Greenways" which attributes the design of the Florida plan to the works of Larry Harris, Reed Noss and Michael Soule’ the acknowledged architects of "The Wildlands Project". A map of the state published by the Wildlands group shows a three stage transformation over time to where 90 percent of state lands will be under ownership of the government and managed according to UN, Agenda 21 and Wildlands Project dictates. This is well under way in Florida, where land acquisitions by both state and local governments forge ahead with extravagant expenditures despite serious budget shortfalls that are manifesting in areas vital to human health such as cut backs in prescription drug assistance to the elderly and help for the mentally disabled.

In Dr. Coffman’s analysis of The Wildlands Project he states that to carry out the objectives of this plan "means… forcing people to move to permitted human occupation zones and possibly shutting down half of the agriculture, forest products and mining industries." Indeed, the United Nations Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development produced a manual, "The Forced Relocation of Rural Populations", which included the statement "When rural resident inhabitants are denied access to the natural resources essential to their livelihoods, they will be forced by economics to relocate".

Is it just coincidence that every industry that produces from our natural resources is being forced out of business by overregulation or so-called "free trade agreements" that flood the country with foreign products which are sold at or below our cost of production? Patrick Goggins, Publisher of "Agri-News", summed it up in an article published in the August 2003 newsletter of The Paragon Foundation with this statement: "The Free Trade Area of the Americas Treaty that’s being proposed, which would be an extension of NAFTA, would be the most devastating situation for the American farmer that’s come along in US history".

The relocation plan is spelled out in the protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Chapter 10.5., which states that "During the initial stages of park and reserve establishment, there may be a transition phase while local inhabitants are provided with options for relocation…" The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in a helpful fashion makes available a publication entitled "Relocation Assistance" for Owners, Tenants and Businesses…covering persons that must move from property as a result of acquisition. In a Wall Street Journal article this "relocation" of the population was termed "Rural Cleansing". Kimberley Strassel, the author, stated that "…repeating itself across the country …the goal of many environmental groups …is no longer to protect nature. It’s to expunge humans from the countryside."

Not satisfied with shutting down most of the land based natural resource production, on June 4, 2001, in compliance with section of the un-ratified UN Treaty, ("The CBD requires the creation of a system of protected areas"), President Clinton issued Executive Order No.13158, calling for a "comprehensive national system of Marine Protected Areas". Also called for by the accredited UN Non-Governmental Organizations: The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, The World Conservation Union and World Wide Fund for Nature. In their plan for a Global Marine Policy: "Creating a Sea Change", Objective 1, is "The establishment and implementation of a comprehensive global network of …MARINE PROTECTED AREAS…" The UN Economic and Social Council, Commission on Sustainable Development Report, April 1997, "Implementation of Agenda 21 and Convention on Biological Diversity", noted that The Jakarta Mandate, which proposed a framework for global action to maintain marine and coastal biodiversity …identified marine and coastal protected areas as one of five thematic programs which will be the focus of further attention in the CBD process.

The solidifying link to the UN of the "Marine Protected Area" concept pushed by the National Marine Fisheries Service and various state fishery management agencies is found in a recent government publication: "Marine Protected Areas [MPA], Tools for Sustaining Ocean Ecosystems", published by the National Resource Council. on page 150: "MPA’S have been identified as an important mechanism to attain the objectives of the CBD". To make this clear: MPA’s are the marine extension of "The Wildlands Project".

The recreational fishing sector is starting to get the picture also with large scale closures taking place from east to west coasts. Under a decision that came in October 2002, the California Fish and Game Commission announced that coastal waters surrounding the Channel Islands, equaling about 30 percent of Southern California’s best fishing area’s will be off-limits to all fishing. Karl Wickstrom, publisher of Florida Sportsman Magazine, well-known for its anti-commercial fishing stands, lamented that with the closure of a large area around the Dry Tortugas "[it]…has opened the floodgates for numerous new no-fishing zone (MPA) proposals… many of Florida’s premiere saltwater fishing area’s are being considered for complete prohibition on all types of recreational fishing".

With some MPAs now established, the camel’s nose is in the tent and the NMFS is proceeding with a extensive list of additional areas on both coasts to arbitrarily close. Recently the call came from environmental groups to expand the MPA plan to 40 percent of the ocean area. How long will it be before we see the proposal that all these areas will need to be "linked" with a network of fish transit fairways?

As the 1997 UN Implementation report states, "Negotiated contemporaneously with Agenda 21 a central purpose of the CBD is to promote Sustainable Development. It is the first truly and for the moment the foremost sustainable development treaty. Furthermore, it is the only legally binding international instrument which is so fundamentally based on this concept. The CBD is therefore an important and effective instrument for the implementation of Agenda 21 and in turn has an important contribution to make to the General Assembly’s efforts to implement sustainable development". Sustainable Development is not just some new catch phrase; it is a action plan to control and regulate every aspect of human activity.

Gro Harlem Bruntland, former Prime Minister of Norway, was vice chair of the Rio Earth Summit. She was also vice president of the International Socialist Party and freely acknowledged that the Earth Summit agenda was based upon the International Socialist Party’s platform. Correspondingly, The United Nations land use policy does not recognize private ownership of land, which is a bedrock principle of the freedom and liberty that contributed to the unmatched success of America.

Billie Jean Roney, a western cattle rancher put things in perspective when she summed it up in a biographical sketch of her, published in ‘The eco-logic Powerhouse" with this warning:

"The real fight is this: a nation that cannot feed itself, and provide other natural resource-based material for daily survival, cannot remain a sovereign nation, and will eventually fail".

Its been said that in finding solutions to problems that you have to identify the cause. Any fisherman, logger, rancher or farmer will tell you that they have the feeling that they are in a fight for the survival of their livelihoods and indeed their way of life which is part of the unique culture and heritage of our country.

Perhaps the foregoing information will identify for you who is at work behind the curtain and thus identify the problems. Now it’s up to you to be a part of finding the solution.

Related article: Getting to the Bottom of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary by Joanne Nathan

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