Freedom to Fish Act [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Freedom to Fish Act

01-04-2001, 08:54 PM
This months Florida Sportsman featured an article by Editor Karl Wickstrom noting a subversive challenge by the government to ignore our rights as recreational fishermen and ignore the success of fisheries management techniques by creating No-Fishing Zones.

On 12/04/00 President Clinton issued an executive order banning recreational fishing from over 4 million acres in Hawaii.

The Dry Tortugas off of Florida are now being targeted, see:

The American Sportfishing Association has had a bill called the "Freedom to Fish Act" introduced by Senator Breaux see: and search for the STATUS of bill s. 3234 for more info.

So what do you think?

We've just had a major slap in the face regarding the striper keeper size - hey who cares if we‘re killing fish in the prime of their breeding life?

How long do you think it will be before something like this happens to the inshore fishermen? It doesn't matter where it starts, now that it has - it's heading our way.

Fire away but most importantly, let's use this forum to find a way to be heard.


01-04-2001, 09:09 PM
The executive order power has been seriously abused over the last eight years. There certainly is a place for it but there are a number of very good reasons we have three branches to our government not the least of which is to prevent monarchy like law creation. The one bit of good news regarding executive orders we don't like is that they can be overturned the minute W. takes the oath of office. Perhaps some letters are in order?

steve moore
01-05-2001, 01:35 PM
I don't see it as a very big deal. The Executive Order closes 4 million acres of water that includes the Midway Islands that are already a national park. The recreational fishing outfits (I believe there are currently two there) will continue to be allowed to operate. It caps recreational fishing effort at current levels in the remaining 76 million acres and allows continued native subsistence fishing. If you look at the areas that are affected you'll see they are very remote and are basically impossible to reach for all but the largest boats (very few if any recreational boats). In addtion, the areas covered have been heavily overfished by commerical long-liners, and there's still a lot of ocean that is left unprotected and completely open around Hawaii.

Now, I understand the "slippery slope" theories and the fear that this could happen in our own backards, but the reality is it never will. The Dry Tortugas is also fairly remote (albeit it is reachable by smaller boats from Key West) but the effort to make this area a reserve has come under a lot of scrutiny.

As for George "Dumb-ya" overturning the Executive Order, It could happen but I think he's got enough to worry about already.

BTW: Under what circumstances do you approve of Executive Orders being used?

Remember: President Clinton also signed the Executive Order that shut-off the Selective Availability (dithering) on the civilian GPS system.

01-05-2001, 02:39 PM
Two voices heard.

At over 100,000 hits per week I wonder what the other folks reading this have to say.

Speak up before it's too late.


01-05-2001, 02:47 PM
I agree with Steve on his points. I'm always leary of arguments that say the sky will fall unless xyz happens. I'm still waiting for the NRA claim that liberals in Mass. are going to take away every single gun. They've been claiming that for decades. So the argument that ZERO waters should be closed for conservation purposes strikes me as the same thing. The world is crowded and can not sustain endless expansion and population. That is why we have the National and State park systems.
OTOH if the act is unreasonable and not measured it should be fought. But in crusing the websites listed above I didn't get that impression, unless I missed something?


October Caddis
01-05-2001, 02:56 PM
Hi Steve,

You are right about the Hawaii thing. Most of that reserve is for the northern Sandwich Islands where the public is already not allowed because of how fragile these islands are.
When I lived on Maui a few years back the commercial and sport fishermen were very concerned about the waters off Maui becoming a whale sancuary. They thought that it would keep them from fishing and it proved false as fishing was able to continue with little interference.
Out here in Washington State we have many areas in the sound that are marine sancuarys. They seem to be doing well in giving our depleted bottom fish a chance to recover and spread out over more area as they populate.
As for W. if he does anything for us sportsmen I would look into it a little deeper you may find it's just a cover for the land rights issues or for timber, mining,etc. I say this because I had to deal with the, "we are doing this for the sportsmen" durring the Reagan years and the gov went in and clear cut 18 million board feet of timber behind my home. The Goverment went to press to let sportsmen know that they would have a new road into the back country because of this cut. What the sportsmen ended up with was no elk left and some mighty fine little trout streams full of silt. I wish there were some republicans who really wanted a strong healthy enviroment, I might just vote for them!
Better to have the land locked away than to be destroyed.

01-05-2001, 05:09 PM

Thanks for the further information on the practical effects of the executive order. I must admit to not having done any research on the matter and all I know is what is posted here. Perhaps the effect of the order is positive and it certainly appears that the effect is minimal on the recreational fisherman.

This discussion inspired me to do a little research on executive orders and I’ll pass on a little of what I learned. First of all the slippery slope theory is quite possible and aside from potential political fallout there is nothing to stop a President from issuing an order that does affect our backyard. Second, a good number of executive orders merely revoke or amend previous orders. So, given that history there is a very real chance that this EO could be revoked.

And finally you asked when I would approve of EOs. First of all I should say that I was wrong when I said the power has been abused over the last 8 years – Clinton is right in the neighborhood with other modern presidents with somewhere around 170 per term. The fact is that the power exists to be used and the fact that the limits are vague makes any claim of abuse poorly founded. My point is better made not as an abuse of power but an abuse of intent. I do not believe it to be the intent that the powers of the federal government be consolidated in the interest of efficiency, but rather that they be separated in the interest of democracy. I think EOs are properly made in cases of foreign policy and crisis such as: E.O. 12370 which was issued to create an emergency board to investigate a railroad dispute, Bush’s blocking Iraqi Government property and prohibiting transactions with Iraq, and Clinton’s prohibiting Transactions With Terrorists Who Threaten To Disrupt the Middle East Peace Process. I don’t think an EO is appropriate when the president merely thinks it is a good idea and it would just be too difficult to usher that idea through congress.

01-06-2001, 02:17 PM
A few more thoughts, greatly appreciated.

My intention was not to have this viewed as a political issue but as a sportsmans issue.

I disagree that this will never happen to recreatoinal fishermen. It is happening every day to public hunting land as a result of the well organized animal rights groups which base their arguments on emotions rather than scientific findings.

I'd like to see if anyone else has any concerns.


01-06-2001, 03:21 PM
The biggest problem for hunters and wildlife is the development of thousands of acres a year with trophy homes. 4000 sq. ft. for a family of 3.5. There will be no hunting soon at that rate. Fishing is a bit safer since you can't bulldoze ponds or rivers.
And who's gonna tell a property owner they can't build? You get down to basic liberties and stuff. Messy. This state will be paved from P-Town to Pittsfield.