Count Your Blessings

It is important to occasionally take some time to reflect on how incredibly blessed we truly are. Here are a few of the blessing I am thankful for.

I am thankful God sent His only Son to give His life for me. There is no greater love than that.

I am thankful for my health and senses that allow me to enjoy God’s gifts.

I am thankful for my wonderful family and the home we share.

I am thankful for the talents God gave me that allow me to earn a living.

I am thankful for this great Nation I was blessed to be born in.

I am thankful for the freedom God gave me and the ability to peacefully defend it with nothing more than words.

I am thankful for the simple things like toilet paper, air conditioning, and electricity that allow us to live better than most kings from any other point in time.

Dear gracious and heavenly Father, thank You for all the many blessing You bestow upon us each and every day. Please help my light so shine before men that they may see my good works so You may be glorified through them. Please help me to love others as You have loved us. Please help me to forgive others as I ask You to forgive me. Please bless all of Your children in the way You know they need it. I pray these things in the name of Jesus, Amen.

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Ode to Joy

Somebody sent me the link to this song and it reminded me of how I would to listen to the full version of Ode to Joy while taking a long shower after a successful fishing trip. I miss the soaring highs and even the crushing lows of being a fisherman. I can’t wait to start fishing again as soon as we win this fight. http://www.youtube.com/watch_popupv=GBaHPND2QJg&feature=youtu.be

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Travel Summary

This is a summary of what my wife and I were blessed to see on the trip cross country.

We saw colorful century old fishing boats with seasoned crews of old salts along coastal California. We saw Sea Lions and Elephant Seals sunning on rocky beaches with patches of sea fog obscuring the bright blue sky. We saw the results of last year’s tsunami that unleashed its awesome power on Crescent City. We saw velvet antlered Elk grazing among the majestic Redwoods. We saw winding mountain roads with dark lightning storms in the distance as the setting sun lit up the landscape with brilliant light. We saw California mountain summits covered with freshly fallen snow in June. We saw the salt flats in Nevada where an ancient ocean once flooded the barren landscape. We saw graceful Antelope in Wyoming with their young fawns. We saw fertile fields of grain and corn through the heartland of Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas. We saw the mighty Mississippi River rushing south as we traveled east. We saw the lush Appalachian Mountians rise from flat lands to peaks with every hue of green blending seamlessly. We finally arrived on the east coast at Baltimore Harbor where Francis Scott Key wrote our beautiful National Anthem as he watched Old Glory flying high over Fort McHenry during the war of 1812. God Bless America.

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Fishing For Freedom Across America

We won a great victory on May 10, 2012 when we got back our freedom to fish on the majority of our South Atlantic seafloor. We lost that freedom based on the lack of data on two fish using the Precautionary Principal from Agenda 21. We can make our public servants listen to us if enough concerned citizens speak with a united voice. I will be traveling across America for the next two weeks giving speeches, doing interviews, and talking to anyone willing to listen about how we can have a much more responsible harvest of our Nation’s seafood. I will be selling calendars and giving out postcards supporting several fishery issues for people to send their members of Congress. You can see the calendar at this link. http://www.freefish7.com/natural-art.html I will include a postcard with every purchase or send you one for free if you do not want a calendar. Send postcard requests and any questions to Chris at. freefish7@hotmail.com Thank you.

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Comprehensive Fishery Management Plan for Feeding People and Limiting Waste

Comprehensive Fishery Management Plan for Feeding People and Limiting Waste

My name is Chris McCaffity. I am a commercial fisherman who has been offering simple solutions that would mitigate many of the severe negative impacts associated with fishery laws that do not follow most of the mandates in the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA). The MSA is a law dictating how America’s fisheries are to be managed and contains requirements like limiting waste, making efficient use of our resources, and promoting fishermen’s safety at sea. Most of the fishery laws that have been rushed through since the reauthorization of the MSA have not followed those three requirements. This has caused tons of perfectly edible seafood to be discarded and wasted while financially devastating fishermen. The financial devastation has caused fishermen to risk life and limb in foul weather trying to make one more trip before a fishery is closed early due to mismanagement of the quotas. This has caused at least one man I know to lose his life. Alan Nelson was out trying to support his 19 month old baby. His death was the event that forced me to do something. I did not want to come home one trip without my deckhand and have to inform his wife and three kids that I lost their father and husband at sea. I am responsible for the safety of my crew regardless of the laws we must follow. It also broke my heart to be forced to throw back so much of our catch even though most of the Regulatory Discards were obviously going to die. The fishery managers seem to feel absolved of any personal responsibility for their actions because they are just doing what they are paid to do.

Please keep an open heart and mind as you consider this comprehensive fishery management plan that I offer as an alternative to HB-353, catch shares, and derby fisheries. This plan could show other nations by example how they can limit waste while feeding more people and allowing stocks to achieve Optimum Yield. It is really not that hard if we simply use sound science, common sense, and remember the Golden rule. We should be focusing on enhancing our resources rather than just restricting access to them. Earth’s oceans and waterways have the potential to always feed many more people than they do now if we properly manage them.

I would like to point out that the vast majority of people involved in fishery management are good people. Most of them have good intentions and just want to earn a paycheck. There are a few public servants in the leadership with other motives. They seem to maliciously mismanage our fisheries in an attempt to advance other agendas like catch shares and area closures. If their actions are not malicious, the only other option is gross incompetence. One example of this is that they refuse to properly manage the lower quotas with possession limits that are adjusted throughout the year to levels that would fill the quotas without any long closures. This creates dangerous derby fisheries like the one that cost Mr. Nelson his life. The fishery manager’s only answer to end this is a catch share scheme that destroys many of the small businesses in every fishery they “help”. Catch shares are not so much a management tool as they are an allocation tool. Big corporations will in time own our fisheries and control your access to local seafood.

Some environmental “charities” have been aggressively advancing Agenda 21 mandates in fishery policy while most of the rest passively support these efforts. Fleet consolidation through catch shares and massive area closures using the Precautionary Principal seem to be the two biggest threats at this time. Some environmentalists even want to ban fishing. I have learned these things the hard way as I initially reached out to the “charities” that showed up at fishery meetings. I did not think they would want countless dead and dying fish to be discarded and wasted. I thought they would have a little compassion for their fellow man and support actions to promote our safety at sea. My blissful ignorance was shattered as one “charity” after another told me things like fishermen are liars and deserve what we are getting. They did not even care about the fish. The Regulatory Discards and compromised safety helped them advance Agenda 21. I have challenged several environmental “charities” to a televised public debate about how we should be managing our fisheries. They have all refused! They should be willing to defend what they are paid to believe. I will state my case and defend it!

There are three key things we need to do to properly manage almost any fishery. Permit holders in individual fisheries should come up with specific management plans for their fishery that follows all of MSA mandates. Fishermen should have final approval of any plan with a 2/3 majority vote of permit holders in the affected fishery.

1. Establish a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for each targeted species and a by-catch allowance for non-target species.

2. Remove all size limits. They have proven to be a government mandated waste of our resources. The fishery managers currently allocate up to 100% of a TAC to Regulatory Discards that are mostly associated with size limits. An average of 30% of a TAC is allocated to dead discards of undersized fish. This adds up to millions of pounds of perfectly edible seafood that is discarded and wasted in the name of conservation.

3. The final part of this simple management plan is to properly manage the quotas with split seasons and possession limits that are adjusted to levels that fill the quotas without any long closure. Here is an example for the approximate Vermilion Snapper TAC.

The Vermilion Snapper TAC is about 1,000,000 pounds. The tragic waste associated with size limits requires about 300,000 pounds be allocated to dead Regulatory Discards. This leaves an Annual Catch Limit (ACL) of 700,000. The ACL should be split into two seasonal quotas that begin with the best times of year to catch them. The first 350,000 pound seasonal quota should begin in March with a Trip Poundage Limit (TPL) of 1,000 pounds for each vessel. The TPL should be adjusted to a level that fills the quota without a long closure after approximately 75% of the seasonal quota has been filled. This is a breakdown of how the adjustments should go.

a. Keep the TPL at 1,000 pounds if there is only one month left in the season.

b. Adjust the TPL to 500 pounds if there are two months left in the season.

c. Adjust the TPL to 300 pounds if there are three months left in the season.

d. Adjust the TPL to 200 pounds if there are four months left in the season.

e. Adjust the TPL to 100 pounds if there are five months left in the season.

The next season would start in September with a 1,000 pound TPL. Any overages from the last quota could be deducted and any unused quota should be added to the next seasonal quota. Every species should be managed this way. We could target the species with high TPLs while still keeping those with lower TPLs. This would achieve any honorable goals of catch shares.

Removing size limits and properly managing the quotas would eliminate most of the waste in our fisheries. We could avoid even more waste with this additional action. Set aside ten percent of each TAC that should be greatly increased with the removal of size limits for the poor. This would create a cushion for both the fish and fishermen. Recreational fishermen could donate any fish they did not want to eat to the quota for the less fortunate. Commercial fishermen could bring in our entire catch and sell our possession limits. Any overages could be donated to the quota for the poor rather than discarding the seafood or facing heavy fines, seizure of our property, and even imprisonment. This would allow us to make wise use of everything that is being killed while collecting accurate date to use in credible stock assessments and for properly managing quotas. This would provide consumers with a dependable supply of safe American seafood throughout the entire year. It would also allow fishermen to work all year. It would follow the MSA mandates to limit waste, make efficient use of our resources, and promote our safety at sea. We should not be torturing fish to death and wasting them to “help” them. We should kill what we catch quickly and use it wisely. Everything landed should be counted against the possession limits and the quotas.

There are three key things needed to enhance a stock of fish in the water or wildlife on land.

1. Increase the amount of food available.

2. Increase the amount of shelter available.

3. Predatory stress invokes a reproductive response.

Keeping the fisheries open all year creates consistent predatory stress that causes fish to produce more offspring. Removing the size limits also allows more of the large breeders to continue replenishing the stock. Removing nothing but the large fish causes the gene pool to be polluted by runts and smaller fish. We are left with a glut of small, weak, slow-growing fish. This negatively impacts the overall health of the stock and the average size of the fish in it.

The amount of food and shelter could be increased with an aggressive Artificial Reef (AR) program. ARs are the perfect union of aquaculture and commercially or recreationally harvested wild fish. The ARs can be very cheap and effective. We can feed many more people than we do now if we enhance our resources rather than always restricting our access to them.

Inshore fisheries could be helped with portable aerators that could be moved to areas with low oxygen levels that cause millions of fish to suffocate every year. The aerators could also help to break down pollutants and keep Speckled Trout from freezing to death during cold-stun events.

One of the unintended consequences of the mismanagement of our fisheries is that we are losing many of the places on the water to unload our seafood. I would like to see some of the grant money for working waterfronts and funds from the Saltonstall-Kennedy tax on imported seafood be used to create Community Seafood Unloading and Processing Facilities (CSUPF). These waterfront facilities should be accessible to existing dealers and seafood markets. They could double as museums to preserve the fishing heritage of the area where they are built. Tourist and locals could visit the museums and also watch as local seafood is unloaded, inspected, and labeled as Wild Caught Seafood from the state the facility is located in. The CSUPFs would also be a great place for scientists and students to collect tissue samples and take measurements of many different kinds of seafood. Markets could be cultivated for underutilized species like the skates and rays that are eating most of the Bay Scallops in North Carolina before fishermen have a chance to harvest them for consumers. Marine patrol officers could watch as catches are unloaded. They could collect any seafood that exceeded possession limits for the quota set aside for the poor. The cleaned seafood could be shipped to soup kitchens and food pantries. This would feed many hungry people across America every day.

These common sense solutions are based on a deep love of the sea as well as input from fellow fishermen, fishery managers, environmentalists, and concerned citizens. I tried to come up with ideas that are easy to implement and enforce while benefiting all user groups and our marine resources. We could actually increase the amount of seafood available for recreational and commercial harvest while feeding many more people and allowing stocks to rebuild from decades of mismanagement. We could do this without causing hard-working American fishermen to be forced out of their chosen profession or compromising our safety at sea. We could also stop wasting tons of perfectly good seafood. We simply need to use sound science, the slightest bit of common sense, and remember the Golden Rule.

I would like to take this opportunity to publicly challenge PEW, ED, CCA, and any other charity involved in fishery issues to an online typed debate that anyone interested can view. I also extend this debate challenge to Roy Crabtree, Gregg Waugh, David Cupka, Tom Burgess, or any member of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Please contact me if you will accept my debate challenge or want to observe it. freefish7@hotmail.com I will be happy answer any questions about things like removing size limits or how Artificial Reefs can be the perfect union of aquaculture and commercially harvested wild fish. I want to have an honest discussion about how we can always have a responsible harvest of healthy fisheries with very little or no waste.

Please take a few minutes to send a copy of my plan to your politicians and these people.

This is a link to members of the U.S. Senate: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
This is a link to members of the U.S. House of Representatives: http://www.house.gov/representatives/
This is a link to members of the N.C. Legislature: http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/
This is an e-mail address for the N.C. Maritime Strategy Committee: info@ncmaritimestudy.com
This is an e-mail address for N.C. Governor Perdue: governor.office@nc.gov
This is an e-mail address for PEW: info@pewenvironment.org
This is an e-mail address for Environmental Defense: contact@environmentaldefense.org
This is an e-mail address for the Coastal Conservation Association: stephen@ccanc.org
This is an e-mail address for Roy Crabtree: roy.crabtree@noaa.gov
This is an e-mail address for Gregg Waugh: waugh@safmc.net
This is an e-mail address for David Cupka: palmettobooks@bellsouth.net
This is an e-mail address for Tom Burgess: tburgess@embarqmail.com

I know this is a lot of people to contact. Please just send a copy of the plan or a link to it to at least one person whenever you can spare a minute of internet time. You will be helping to feed the hungry and stop the waste of our resources. Think of it like the games many people play online, but one that actually benefits society and does more than pass time. Please help me defend this freedom and resource that I love the way you would like me to help you if the roles were reveresed. This is a great way to practice the Golden Rule. The only way any of this plan will be implemented is if enough concerned citizens show their support for it. Thank you!

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Our united front stopped a loss of Liberty

We the People stopped government bureaucrats from taking our freedom to recreationally and commercially bottom fish on over 4,800 square miles of our seafloor. Our united voice was loud enough that they could not ignore it. We can defend Liberty and make our government listen to us if we stand united against any attack on our GOD given freedom.  

The area closure we stopped was the one in Amendment 17A. We still need to stop the much larger area closure in Amendment 17B. That closure will take our freedom to fish our seafloor from 240′ of water out to the end of the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone from Virginia to Key West. The bureaucrats will not even calculate how many square miles this is. They want to take this freedom to fish based on the lack of data on two fish. They will destroy our jobs and take your freedom to access safe American seafood from those waters because their ignorance. The Warsaw Grouper and Speckled Hind have never been species with high numbers in the U.S. South Atlantic. Some fish are naturally more abundant than others. We can have healthy populations of those species without the loss of Liberty.

The Sec. of Commerce, Gary Locke, is the man who will sign away this freedom to fish. We the People can stop him if enough Liberty loving Americans will ask him not to sign Amendment 17B. This is a very simple way for you to get involved and help pass a little more of our GOD given freedom on to the next generation. Please contact Sec. Locke at TheSec@doc.gov or (202) 482-2000.

Thank you so much for your help defending this freedom I love. We have won a great victory and I am confident we can stop the area closure in Amendment 17B. I also want to help you defend a Liberty you cherish if it is threatened. Please go to the United Front page of my website to learn how we can work together to defend all of our GOD given freedoms. www.freefish7.com

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Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Our government has given us much to complain about lately. I have spent the last year pointing out the “evils of bureaucracy” that are wasting our resources, destroying our businesses, hurting our families, taking our freedom, and compromising our safety at sea. I want to use this Thanksgiving to tell the world about the many blessings I am thankful for.

I would like to start by thanking GOD for our freedom and all of the many blessing HE has bestowed upon us. I would also like to thank the brave men and women in America’s military that allow us to keep some of our GOD given freedom. Without their sacrifice, where would we be? What language would we speak? What religion would we be forced to except under penalty of torture, imprisonment, or death? What foreign country would rule us like slaves? What comforts we enjoy would we still have? What GOD given freedom would remain?  

I am thankful to have been born in America at this time in history. Even the poor in this great Nation live like kings compared to almost any other place or time. For thousands of years even the kings did not have the simple comforts we enjoy today. They never had the pain killers we do for dentistry or surgery. They never had air conditioning or indoor plumbing. They did not even have toilet paper. The kings did not have access to the wide variety of food that we are blessed with. Our GOD given freedom that America has allowed us to enjoy for a brief moment in history has brought innovation like the world has never seen.

I am thankful for my wonderful family. My beautiful wife has stood by side through good times and bad. She gave me two extraordinary children that have made me rich beyond my wildest dreams. My daughter touched my heart the way that only Daddy’s little girl can. Some of the few words GOD said sum up my feelings for my son. “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” I have a special relationship with my Grandmothers. I treasure all of the wonderful memories we have made together and look forward to many more. My two brothers are great men that I respect and admire. My Dad is a kind and generous man that introduced GOD into my life. My Mom was young and could have aborted me. Thank you Mom, for letting me keep the life GOD gave me. She helped instill in me a love for America, respect for my elders, and compassion for my fellow man. I love all of my family and thank GOD for them.

These are some of the things that I sometimes take for granted. I am thankful for my job, for my home, and for my dog. I am thankful for the food on my plate. I am thankful for clean water to drink and shower with. I am thankful for all of the beauty that surrounds us in nature. I am thankful for the talents GOD gave me. I am thankful for the chance to see and photograph so many of HIS excellent creations. I am thankful for the chance to peacefully defend the freedom GOD gave us. I am thankful GOD sent his only SON to show us by example and HIS teachings how we should live. I am thankful that JESUS shed his blood and died on the cross to forgive my sins and give my soul everlasting life.

It is important to take the time every once in a while to appreciate the many blessing we receive each and every day. We risk losing those blessings if we do not even realize we have them. We are blessed with freedom few have ever known in human history. We should not take it for granted. The human spirit desires freedom. The spirit of some people also desires to rule their fellow man and restrict our GOD given freedom. We must teach our children the importance of freedom and just how fragile it is. We need to remember “the struggle, persecution, hardship, sacrifice, and death by which freedom of the individual was won.”  If we just sit by, full of apathy, and do nothing, the next generation will not know the freedom we have known.

This Thanksgiving, spend time with your families like you may never have another chance to. What would you give to have one more holiday with a loved one that is waiting for you in Heaven? On your death bed, the things you accumulated over your life will mean little and you will take none of it with you. The memories you made with your loved ones will be what you treasure most and will follow you into the next life. Go with GOD, love your family, hug your kids, enjoy America, and peacefully defend our freedom every day.

Thank you GOD for all of this and so much more. I am truly blessed.

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Your chance to support common sense

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) is giving me a chance to offer a plan to limit by catch, help fishermen, and protect your freedom to access safe American seafood. I need your help to get the SAFMC to implement some or all of my plan. Please read this common sense approach to fishery management with an open heart and mind. If you agree with it, please contact the SAFMC and let them know you support the freefish7 plan. Kim Iverson is the public information officer for the SAFMC. She is a very nice lady. Please ask her to forward your comments to the voting members of the council. kim.iverson@safmc.net

The by catch reduction and fishermen’s survival plan.

          Thank you for the chance to present this plan. It is no secret that we do not see eye to eye on some issues. I do think we have a common goal of a healthy fishery that can be responsibly harvested. We should all be able to agree that it is not in the best interest of the fish or fishermen to have regulatory discards. I will offer ideas based on my experience as a fisherman to limit by catch, make efficient use of the resource, and promote our safety at sea. Please consider these suggestions with an open heart and mind.

         The first thing that should be done is Trip Poundage Limits (TPLs) to manage the Annual Catch Limits (ACLs). The council has used TPLs and split seasons with some success. This plan incorporates some of those good ideas. It goes like this: every fish with an ACL should have the fishing year split into two six month seasons. The TPLs should be set high for the first 75% of the six month quota and adjusted to a level that would fill the quota without any long closures for the remaining 25%. This is an example for Vermilion Snapper that should replace the current derby fishery. Keep the six month seasons. Set the TPL at 1,500 pounds for the first 75% of the quota. Adjust the TPL for the remaining 25% to 300 pounds if there are several months left in that six month season. Set the TPL at 2,000 pounds if there is only one month left. Any poundage that is left should be carried over to the next six month season. Any poundage over the quota could be deducted from the next season. We can target Vermilion Snapper when the quota is high. We could target other species when the TPL is low. This would allow fishermen to keep the Vermilion Snapper by catch and give the consumer a dependable supply of them throughout the year. It would help fishermen make efficient use of the resource and earn enough money to survive the rebuilding process in a safer way. The council could also use TPLs instead of four month closures on Silver Snapper and shallow water grouper. Set the TPL at 100 pounds on both Silver Snapper and grouper. This would be low enough that fishermen would not make trips targeting them but would allow for by catch. This plan would give scientist a more accurate and dependable way to collect data. We should try our best to avoid wasting our resources.

         Size limits sound good in theory but have unintended consequences. They force us to target the larger breeding stock of fish while discarding the small fish that can be replaced quickly. Many of those small fish die slowly from stress, infection, and decompression damage. The size limits should be abolished. The small fish should be counted against the ACLs instead of being wasted. We should have a goal of a zero by catch fishery and make efficient use of everything we catch. We need a law that would allow us to sell other by catch like sharks. We accidentally catch Black Tips, Sand Bar Sharks, Makos, and smooth dog sharks. These are all sharks that are good to eat and legal to sell in state waters. We should be allowed to sell 500 pounds of sharks per trip. We should not target sharks but we cannot avoid catching some of them. We can have a responsible harvest of almost any fish. It is a matter of realizing we cannot avoid catching some species and managing the fishery accordingly.    

         Artificial Reefs (ARs) could be the perfect union of aquaculture and commercially caught wild fish. We should try to enhance the fishery instead of restricting access to it. I believe we could greatly increase the total bio-mass the US South Atlantic could support with an aggressive AR program. I have heard some arguments against ARs and would welcome a debate on the issue. This should also be part of the marine spatial planning discussion. We need to look at the big picture and show other Nations by example how to manage their fisheries in a way that helps the fish, fishermen, economies, and the marine environment.

         We have suffered severe financial hardships since the closures started last September. I propose that part of the NMFS budget be allocated to reducing the size of the snapper/grouper fishery through a voluntary buyout of inactive permits and elderly fishermen with illnesses that would like to retire. The market for our businesses has been destroyed by the economy and regulation. Those aging fishermen need a way out other than bankruptcy or death. I would also like to see the SAFMC, NMFS, and NOAA work with the Small Business Administration to help fishermen get low interest long term loans to consolidate our debt. This would take the pressure off of fishermen to risk life and limb to avoid bankruptcy. The buyout and debt consolidation loans would also take some of the pressure off of the fishery and allow stocks to rebuild faster.

         Fishermen are not just numbers in management equations. We are real people with families that depend on our income and worry about our safety. We deserve to be treated like you and your loved ones would like to be treated if the roles were reversed. The solutions I presented are based on a love of the sea, decades of on the water experience, and the mandates in the MSA. It breaks my heart to be forced to discard GOD’s good creations to die slowly. I do not believe that any of you on this council really want to waste our resources. This is an unintended consequence that is obvious to those of us that discard by catch. TPLs should be addressed immediately to put an end to this waste of fish and income.

         I know catch shares are a management measure that the SAFMC, NMFS, and NOAA are looking at and many environmental groups support. I would like to offer this compromise to everyone that wants catch shares. We agree to put TPLs in place to stabilize the fishery in the short term. We can then discuss and debate catch shares as well as buyouts, small business loans, and Artificial Reefs. We also need to look at getting rid of some old regulations like size limits that helped to create the problems. It looks like NOAA will have 54 million dollars in next year’s budget to set up catch share programs. I propose that some of that funding be allocated to paying fishermen to take the time necessary to be part of the process. Commercial fishermen have centuries of collective on the water experience to bring to the discussion. We love the sea and want to protect it.

          Thank you for giving me the chance to present this plan. I welcome any questions and look forward to working together towards a healthy and sustainable fishery that can be responsibly harvested forever. We should try to manage the fishery in a way that rebuilds stocks while providing the public with a dependable supply of safe American seafood. We should also do what we can to help fishermen and their families survive the rebuilding process. We could achieve these goals if we work together using sound science, common sense, and follow the Golden Rule.                                                                                                                                                

Sincerely,

Chris McCaffity

  This is a simple way for you to support common sense, freedom, and your fellow Americans. I am trying to get 1,000 people to email a few words of support for this plan before I present it on Dec. 7th at the Hilton in New Bern. I would also like to have 1,000 people at that meeting. With that kind of support, we could have TPLs before the end of that week long meeting. Please contact me if you have any questions. freefish7@hotmail.com Please remember, this is not just our freedom to responsibly harvest this great Nation’s resources. It is your freedom to have a dependable supply of safe American seafood. Thank you for your support.

 Please check out my new website at. www.freefish7.com

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Common sense fishery regulations

I want to use this post to lay out in one place a common sense approach to regulating the South Atlantic Snapper Grouper Fishery. I have mentioned most of these things in other post. These plans may not necessarily be what I would do in a perfect world. We are bound by law to work within the guidelines of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) and we must make the best of a bad situation. All of my ideas would follow the mandates in the MSA, even those that the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) refuse to follow. Some of the “men” in those bureaucracies have told me that the mandate to end overfishing trumped all other mandates including those to limit bycatch, make efficient use of the resource, and promote the safety at sea of fishermen. I asked them how we were supposed to safely survive the rebuilding process the way they were mismanaging the fishery. I was told that it was not their concern. That lack of concern and refusal to wisely manage the low Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) with Trip Poundage Limits (TPLs) has killed and wasted countless fish. It has also cost at least one hard-working American fisherman his life.

The first thing that should be done immediately is to wisely mange every fish with an ACL with TPLs. The TPLs should be set high for the first 75% of the ACL. The TPL for the other 25% should be reduced to a level that would allow the season to remain open most of the year and still fill the ACL. This simple action would stabilize the weakening market for our fish with a dependable supply, almost eliminate by catch, make efficient use of the resource, and allow fishermen to earn enough money to survive in a safer way. I have pleaded with PEW, EDF, Oceana, CCA, and others to stand together with me and demand that the SAFMC and NMFS do this now. Those “charitable groups” all refused to work with me. The SAFMC has an Amendment to address this issue. The plans I have seen are almost as incompetent as the rest of their regulations and it will take a long time to put in place. They make everything far to complicated. They could put TPLs in place quickly if the environmentalist, recreational, and commercial fishermen would stand united and present a TPL plan within the guidelines of the MSA and demand the SAFMC implement it now.    

The next step should be for all interested parties to agree on a way to collect data and use sound science to do credible stock assessments. Those parties should then use the credible stock assessments to set reasonable ACLs. Those ACLs should then be managed wisely with bag limits for recreational fishermen and TPLs for commercial fishermen. The size limits should all be abolished and we should keep every fish we catch until our bag limit or TPL is met and then quit fishing. It is a waste of GOD’s good creations to discard small fish that can be replaced quickly only to target the breeding stock of larger fish that are not replaced as quickly. Many of the small fish die after the stress of being caught and then firmly holding it to remove the hook and measure it. Some fish are caught in deep enough water that many of those released die slowly from decompression damage. The size limits do more harm than good and mandate the waste of our great Nation’s resources.

There are many fishermen that would like to retire or just get out of this nightmare. I have talked with the same groups I mentioned before about ways to fund a buyout of those fishermen. They have all refused to work with me. I have heard other fishermen say that they have been told by environmentalist and bureaucrats that it is easier to just drive us out of business than to do a buy out. That might also cut into their billion dollar budgets. There are some simple ways to use the free market to raise the funds to buy out those fishermen that are willing to step aside. I do not want big brother to steal your money to do this.

The final common sense solution I will mention for now is one that can enhance the fishery, economy, and liberty in the long run. Artificial reefs could be the perfect union of aquaculture and commercially caught wild fish. There are thousands of square miles of barren sandy sea floor that could support a wide variety of sea life if it was enhanced with artificial reefs. We could again use the free market to raise money for the reefs.

The TPLs, buy out, and artificial reefs should be things that environmentalist, conservationist, and all fishermen would want to embrace. Will we put our differences aside and work together on common sense solutions or will we stay divided and allow our resources to be wasted, our commercial fishing heritage to be lost, our coastal economies devastated. Will we allow bureaucrats to continue delivering some of the 1,000 cuts that are killing our sweet Lady Liberty?

There are only a handful of commercial fishermen left in America. We are the most tightly regulated fishermen in the world. We have followed the laws NMFS and other fishery bureaucracies have made since their creation. They claim to have  mismanaged most of our fisheries to the point of collapse. Our government just gives them more of our money and more power to rule us with an iron fist. Those unelected bureaucrats have the full weight of the federal government behind them to make commercial fishermen pay for obeying their laws. The men and women that commercial fish are Mothers, Fathers, Sons, and Daughters, they are our Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and your fellow American citizens. We deserve to be treated like you would treat your loved ones or would like to be treated yourself. Commercial fishermen are the real endangered species. We are a minority group without the money, power, or numbers to defend ourselves. Our only hope of survival is if you and enough of our fellow Americans will stand united to demand regulations that allow us to responsibly harvest this great Nation’s seafood and give you access to it. We the people should at the very least have enough compassion on our fellow-man to give them a dignified way out of this nightmare through a voluntary buy out program.

It is hard to work on the water and not believe in GOD. HIS wonders of nature surround us with everything from the call of seagulls, the fresh salt air, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, moonlit nights, dolphins and whales that break the surface of the sea for brief glimpses of their majestic forms. We are reminded of GOD’s presence and pray for HIS help when the sky darkens, the wind howls, waterspouts form, lightning burst from the clouds, the roar of thunder shakes the boat, hail hits the water like machine gun fire, and towering waves crash over our boats. I have experienced all of these and know that GOD created it. I also know HE listened to my prayers and kept me safe in his warm embrace. I ask you to pray for the safety of commercial fishermen everywhere and that GOD will soften the hearts of the bureaucrats that are callously destroying our jobs, heritage, fisheries, and the freedom HE gave us.

This blog, www.questioningwithboldness.wordpress.com is helping me expose this attack on our freedom to fish and access safe American seafood. Please check out that sight and my own website at. www.freefish7.com Thank you.

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Great road trip with my wonderful daughter

We saw majestic oaks draped in spanish moss on the Tomoka River. We saw amber waves of grain and sheets of rain torn with lightning bolts again and again. GOD’s flowers bloomed and HIS thunder boomed. We saw skies of blue and the ocean too. What made it all so wonderful to me was that Crystal made it “we”.

Our trip started easy with a short drive to my son, Corey’s house in Raleigh. We stopped at King’s BBQ on the way for some lunch. I tried the pig in a puppy sandwich. It was great and something different. We made it to Corey’s in time to walk around the area he lives in. We found a pond with a little waterfall that fed a stream. A tick found me out there. It was worth it to find that special place and spend that time with my son. We have spent many hours exploring different places and I treasure all the memories we made together.

We got up at 3:00 am to start the drive to Orlando. We needed to be there before the 6:30 meeting. We had a nice drive down and got there around 3:30 pm.

We stayed at the Renaissance Hotel in Orlando for two days. They were kind enough to give me the discounted rate that the council members received. It was a very nice place. There was a pond in front that had dragonflies all around it. I went around to some local businesses to sell calendars and inform people about what I was trying to do. I met some great freedom loving people. We also ate some delicious cheese burgers from Five Guy’s Burgers.

We left Orlando around 10:00 am and passed the Daytona Speedway about a hour later. What a gorgeous drive up central Florida’s A1A coastal highway. We went from Daytona to St. Augustine stopping along the way to sell more calendars and let people know what the council was voting on that day. We asked everyone to contact the Sec. of Commerce, Gary Locke to ask him not to sign Amendment’s 17A and 17B into law. You can do that right now by going to TheSec@doc.gov or by calling him at (202) 482-2000. We met some more patriotic liberty loving Americans that inspired me to keep fighting for our GOD given freedom despite the battle that I felt was lost. The man with the Flags you will see in the pictures was a retired Marine. He had traveled the world defending our freedom and collecting all sorts of amazing artifacts. He gave me a tour and we talked about things. He was confident that this great Nation would pull through these dark times. He is right but we the people must stand united to peacefully defend our GOD given freedom. 

We made it to St. Augustine around 5:00 pm. We stopped at the La Fiesta Ocean Inn to get a room. The smoke alarm went off right after we walked in. A bag of popcorn had burned in the microwave. The fire alarm brought out the Fire Dept. with the big red truck and all. After about 30 minutes of listening to the alarm, they finally got it turned off. The fire men were professional and kind to the poor girls behind the counter. They gave us a good rate and we got a room. We went to Mango Mango’s for dinner. Crystal and I split a Caribbean chicken plate with fried plantains. That was the first time I had tried plantains. They are like a starchy banana and tasted great. We walked back to the room and saw some baby mallard ducks with their mama. That was a nice end to a beautiful day.

I was up before dawn to catch the best light and least people at the Lighthouse. There is a boat ramp by the lighthouse that brought out more people than I wanted to see. I just worked around them and enjoyed the many different views of the most haunted lighthouse in America. The sun did not disappoint with lighting that only seemed to get better as it climbed higher in the sky until it reached its peak of brilliant light about an hour after it rose out of the sea. The peak passed and the people came, so I left happy with the gift GOD had just given me.

What a great morning. We had fresh-baked blueberry scones for breakfast. That was another first but not the last because they were delicious. The Inn provided the breakfast and a paper. The headline read, Fishermen dealt ‘death blow’. It was painfully obvious how the vote had gone. We packed the truck and pulled out. A bumper sticker caught my eye in the parking lot. It was a quote by Plato. “The price of apathy is to be ruled by evil men.”

We stopped at a few places in St. Augustine before we got on 95 North to go home. The Conch Marina was the best stop. The lighthouse was close and we got to see a manatee around the dock. There was a news crew talking with some fishermen on the docks. I did a short interview with them and went on to sell some calendars to the marina. I had seen some guys that looked a little out-of-place get off of a boat while I was talking to the news crew. One of them came up to me latter and asked where something was. I told him where to go and about the attack on our freedom. He took a card and I thought nothing more of it. I went back to the truck and Crystal told me that she thought Travis McCoy was in the big black tour bus beside us. He is the lead singer for the band, Gym Class Heroes and has a new song called Billionaire. We knocked on the bus door and she asked if that was Travis that she had seen getting on the bus. It was him. He graciously came out and signed a calendar for Crystal and I snapped some photos. We talked a few minutes and gave them a couple of calendars before it was time for both of us to get on the road again. We heard his billionaire song a few times on the way home. It is a good song with a catchy Caribbean sound.  

The ride home was nice until we got back into North Carolina. We ran into some storms around sunset and got to see a rainbow, lightning, and heavy rain. We made it home safely before midnight.

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