by Leon Archer
Do you ever wonder if the people we elect to serve us in Albany have any common sense or care at all about the citizens of our state?
I certainly do at times.
I’ll give you a couple of examples of what really rankles me and they should at least leave you scratching your head.
We don’t often think about it up here in Oswego County, but a big chunk of New York borders on the Atlantic Ocean and it provides jobs for a lot of New Yorkers and income for the state coffers.
Sport fishing is a big thing there, much bigger than it is on Lake Ontario. And like Ontario, its fisheries and beaches draw folks from a lot of other states.
There are two species that arguably draw the most fishermen to Long Island Sound and the south shore of Long Island; they are flounder and striped bass.
I have been to the island a couple of times to fish for them. Those species are managed up and down the east coast by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Basically, this group assesses the stock of each species, and sets a benchmark that will be used to decide how many and what size fish may be taken by sport fishermen and commercial fishermen in all the Atlantic Coast states.
Representatives from each state meet with ASMFC to give their input. In early August, this group met in Philadelphia to make decisions about striped bass that will determine how they will be managed for the next five to 10 years. Can you guess what state wasn’t represented?
I got an e-mail from a member of the Coastal Conservation Association, who is a good friend and an avid sport fisherman, informing me that New York State wasn’t represented at the meeting.
New York was supposed to send three people: Andy Kahnle from the Hudson River Unit, who, incidentally, sits on ASMFC’s Striped Bass Technical Committee; a woman from DEC’s Marine Bureau, who addresses coastal striped bass management issues; and Cathy Hattala, who deals with striped bass on the Hudson River. ASMFC would have paid all their travel expenses.
So what went wrong? Why did we lose our voice at this very important meeting?
Well sometimes common sense, or even just good sense, goes out the window when our government is involved.
Governor Cuomo wanted to save the state some money – good idea – and he put a travel restriction on government employees – which saves a drop in the bucket.
(I notice that he travels where ever he wants to – like the State Fair).
But even if the travel restriction saved some money somewhere, it didn’t save a penny by keeping these people in question from doing their job.
They could have attended at no cost to the state. ASMFC was going to cover their expenses. Let me tell you, it will cost our state’s fishermen, both recreational and commercial, dearly in the years down the road.
I want to quote one paragraph from my friend’s e-mail, because he summed this up so well. “One would think that a meeting discussing the future management of a fish as important to New York’s anglers as striped bass, should have been important enough for Cuomo’s office to permit travel, particularly when the costs of such travel will be picked up by ASMFC – and particularly when New York’s Hudson River hosts the second-largest spawning population of striped bass on the coast. However, that was not the case. Instead, New York anglers and New York’s striped bass fishery were effectively unrepresented.”
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