For the who attended the March 21, 2012 FISHERMEN'S RALLY in DC, it was a memorable gathering of fishermen from many ports and communities along this coast. The weather was just perfect, neither to warm nor as cool as it usually is during this time of the year. It was a picturesque setting with the trees in bloom and that added to the charged atmosphere where an unexpected large number of politicians made up of US Senators, Congressmen, Mayors and various State Representatives, spoke of their support for Congressional bill H.R. 3061 and S.632 in the Senate for 'Flexibility in Rebuilding our American Fisheries.'
Before i go any further, we being Captain Tony Marilyn Jean, Captain Tony of the fv STIRS and myself just like to again thanks not only those who showed up on the bus that departed Sheepshead Bay and Pt. Lookout, but also those who supported the cause and purchased a seat or seats for anyone who wished to go.
This is the current list which I have at hand:
Captain Tony - MARILYN JEAN - Bus Coordinator
Captain Greg Nardiello - OCEAN EAGLE V
Captain Robert Sapanara - BROOKLYN VI
Frank - 'RSONS'
Captain Chet - REGINA E
Eric Grant (Conn.)
Special thanks to the RFA for their support of this bus.
Captain Tony Joseph - fv STIRS - Bus Coordinator
Captain Steven Kearney - SUPER HAWK
(I have not gotten the list from Captain Tony, but if you contributed to this bus, please let me know and I will add you to the list)
BONNIE BRADY -EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association
NEW YORK SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER
Our senior Senator Charles Schumer, surprised everyone in the group of fishermen from New York, by taking a good amount of time from his busy schedule to meet with all of us after the Rally ended and then conducted an impromptu speech on all the points he made to open up the FISHERMEN'S RALLY. This was in some part due to some 'logistics' issues with the bus coming from Montauk (which happened to be mentioned a few times during the rally). Senator Schumer then did a question and answer session, going so far as to continually ask, "are their any more questions." He then went around shaking hands and story telling which I did capture on the videos near the bottom of this thread.
Both Captain Tony of the Marilyn Jean and myself later discussed this, and though our politics and political beliefs are to the right of Senator Schumer, we both agreed that the graciousness and access he gave to everyone in explaining the reason for the delays in the bills, made both us reconsider our thoughts about him even though it is just one issue among many that you must judge a politician on. I can state here, that Senator Schumer did win over hearts and minds and we will support him in the future. Thank you Senator Schumer for not only giving us such access, but in your continuing efforts in spearheading S.632 through the legislative labyrinth within both chambers of congress.
For those looking or who want to use the pictures here, please just contact me. I don't see any problems as long as you let me know. I do have full size, higher resolution images.
As I was coming down to the Bay after 5 in the morning, the skies were shades of dark grey, and the fog continued to decrease the visibility to a few hundred feet once I pulled up and parked my car in Sheepshead Bay. A small group had already gathered in front of the Marilyn Jean and Brooklyn VI pier with anxious anticipation of the day that laid ahead.
Glenn Evans, a noted long time fishermen out of many ports here in New York, was all smiles getting onto the bus. Glenn was a big help in keeping most of us loose with his stories and new iPad 3 as we waited till past 6 am for the last stragglers who were coming down for the bus out of Sheepshead Bay.
As decades long Captain Andrew Nazzaruolo reached the bus, both Captain Tony Marilyn Jean and myself looked at who would showed up for the bus from NYC. We were disappointed by the showing, and more so since the bus, breakfast, lunch and dinner along with all beverages, were donated by a few party boat captains and fishermen.
I was also in contact with Captain Tony of the STIRS who had already gotten his bunch on the Pt. Lookout bus. From what he told me, he also had a 'light' bus, but, he did have double the amount of fishermen and captains then we had out of the Bay.
The reason I make a point of this, is due to some of the scuttlebutt I have heard and now seen about the Rally. Here was the time for fishermen to personally take their complaints to DC, by showing their support to making changes in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. These people who showed up and supported the cause, figuratively speaking, "carried the water" for all fishermen. Politicians are well aware of the numbers that show up to any event they attend since it ends up symbolizing how much 'capital' they will use to push, promote and cajole others in congress to support the legislation. This was one of the main points we tried to impress on every fishermen. Just keep that in mind when you complain about the regulatory environment fishermen are having to deal with and survive in.
The ride to DC was pretty much, uneventful, and in fact, went without any hitches in traffic as we traveled through three states on I-95. It seemed we were one of the first groups to arrive at the drop off point right off Columbus Circle. The temperature was mild as we exited the bus and then walked to the designated meeting and Rally area,
RFA Managing Director JIm Hutchinson, one of the lead coordinators of the FISHERMEN'S RALLY, came over to our group. It was very reassuring to hear from Jim that in just a little while, the area would be stacked shoulder to shoulder with fishermen attending the Rally. I must say, he was right too, as within the next hour an unending stream of fishermen filled up and around the podium area.
As Jim walked away, someone yelled out "group photo, group photo", and everyone in our group lined up as I took this picture. Smile!
As the stating area continued to fill in I made my way around, with attentions of hopefully 'bumping into' fishermen I know. Right near the podium area was Dave Arbeitman owner of one of the finest tackle shops around, in Brielle New Jersey, THE REEL SEAT, INC., Mel Deak of MELS PLACE and Captain Len Belcaro, owner of BIG GAME FISHING JOURNAL. I spoke with Dave and Mel first, but later I had a few moments to speak with Captain Len and we talked about his publication being the only major recreational fishing magazine that publicly supported this Rally. Before we went on our way, Captain Len gave me a copy of the latest issue, in which he specifically states in his piece " The State of the American Recreational Fishery", and I quote:
We recreational fishermen are being systematically and methodically eliminated from the oceans by the environmental and "business' community.
Captain Len (furthest to your right in the pic) happened to speak at this Rally, and he and his publication are to not only to be commended, but more so, supported for his stand for supporting the Rally against some very powerful forces as he mentioned in the quote.
Finally Captain Tony Joseph showed up while I was talking to Mel from Mels Place. Mel upon hearing the last name 'Joseph', along with him owning a fishing vessel out of Pt. Lookout, thought that Tony was a member of a very noted, longtime fishing family out of Captree. This is not the case though as we broke the news to Mel. Captain Tony is a decades long draggerman who was driving force for getting the bus out of Pt. Lookout for the Rally.
We did have some interesting sites walking around the gathering, and one which drew the most attention bar none, was these two lovely and pleasant ladies who were from PETA. Originally, some thought they were representing the PEW people, but when someone said to look at the words one of the ladies shirt, it was evident that it was PETA. They were very courtesy and polite even with many fishermen draped over them for a picture.
In the picture below, I was able to get Ray Bogan who as with the last Rally, was the commentator introducing all the people who spoke. He was patient enough to be in a shot with these ladies from PETA.
With Captain Tony of the STIRS, we did a meet and greet with Dave Aripotch a long time commercial fishermen from Montauk who was also helpful in spreading the word about the Rally. Here someone said to me "get in the picture."
Like the last Rally, some groups brought along home made banners that supported the cause. This was one of the sharpest that we saw during the day:
I continued to make my way around with Captain Tony, and finally saw our good friend Captain Steve Kearney of the SUPER HAWK. Captain Steve who was on the Pt.Lookout bus also was a big supporter of the Pt. Lookout bus.
This was the last meet and greet, before the start of the Rally.
With a much larger showing of politicians for this event, Ray Bogan started the proceedings early. He thanked all the supporters for this Rally, and the list can be found here: Rally organizers & supporters - Keep Fishermen Fishing! U.S. Coastal Fishermen to Rally in Washington, D.C. - March 21, 2012!. It was pleasant surprise and a great feeling to hear FISHING UNITED.COM announced as one of the 40 fishing groups and/or organizations that supported the Rally in DC.
After the Pledge of Allegiance it was now time to hear the speakers. Here is a shot just before the first speaker, New York Senator Charles 'Chuck' Schumer.
From this point on, I will note some of the speakers names that I know or remember to help this thread move along. There were a handful who did stand out with the fiery rhetoric and or inspiring comments and I made note of that.
The crowd listening intently as the senior New York Senator laid out the process and his unending support in getting the bill through both chambers of Congress.
Representative Pallone has been the driving force in the House to get H.R. 3061, 'The Flexibility and Access in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act of 2011', passed.
State Senator Tarr may have been the most memorable of the speakers due to exuberant language and demonstrative actions. During this speech he reminded me of a MMA trainer working up his fighter for the upcoming match. He was pretty hopped up to say the least.
I remember and Senator Brown noted, that his first big rally when he won the special election to be the Senator from Massachusetts, was the February Rally in 2010. Since that time, Senator Brown has been a driving force in lambasting NOAA FISHERIES Administrator Jane Lubchenco on her mishandling of fishery issues in New England. In fact the sign you see being held here by an aide, was used at one of the recent hearings on the misspending of improperly (being PC here) collected fine money levied against fishermen. He stated to take a good look at this boat.....it was bought with your money!
Congressman LoBiondo had his jacket off and rolled up his sleeves and was ready to fight NOAA/NMFS to get off fisherman's boats and out of our bait boxes. Everyone loved that!
As always, a dynamic speaker.
The crowd listening intently.....
Colonel West asked this young man, Jacob Glantzman to stand by his side. it was a touching moment as the Colonel West spoke. No doubt he has great potential to become one of the top leaders in our country.
One of the most noted supporters of the fishing industry for the last two plus decades. He is now winding down his last term in the House. Always a joy to listen to! I should add that Congressman Frank had the most surprising line of the Rally:
"Maybe we underestimated Jane Lubchenco. Who better to enforce a rigid law than the most rigid person I ever met in my life?"
What few fishermen know is that in his very short time in congress, Congressman Runyan has introduced H.R. 1646, "The American Angler Preservation Act." As noted on the Keep Fishermen Fishing website, this legislation seeks to amend the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, to preserve jobs and coastal communities through transparency and accountability in fisheries management. He has quickly come into Washington as being a very big supporter of fishing issues and the fishing industry.
Congressman Scott was one of the biggest hits of the Rally when he started singing the song “Hit the road Jack, and don't- cha come back no more!" This song was directed at the most vilified person of this Rally, and rightly so, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco.
Congressman Turner represents our district here in Sheepshead Bay and I believe his district is being changed due to the new redistricting plan. At this time he will be running this fall for the senate seat currently held by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. He comes across as a regular 'Joe' in the way he speaks....very refreshing.
Congressman Southerland is part of the new breed that came into congress from the 2010 election and this man was ready to fall on the sword on fishery issues. I cannot give enough kudos about Congressman Southerland, and for those who like to look further, he even has his own webpage that bleeds fishing! Read his comments supporting US in the March/April 2012 issue of BIG GAME FISHING JOURNAL.
A noted long time supporter of the New England fishing industry.
The Florida delegation really loved this guy along with Congressman Southerland.
One of the most noted for his fighting for and supporting fishermen in congress.
Our junior senator from New York was again on her tippy-toes at the mike. She even joked about it after she finished her speech.
The congressman representing Staten Island and parts of Bay Ridge/Dyker Heights, Gravesend and Benshonhurst. Hollywood like looks combined with sharp wit. Always a colorful speaker.
An eloquent, down to earth speaker. Definitely one of the speakers I would like to see and hear more from in the future.
When it comes to 'fishery science', this is one of the most noted scientist and a friend to fishermen and the fishing industry. Dean Emeritus of the UMass School for Marine Science.
(American Alliance of Fishermen and their Communities)
Over a year ago, Tina Jackson was profiled in this story, FISHERMENS VOICE - DEC> 2010 - TINA JACKSON. An excellent speaker.
As soon as I saw Barry Hinckley come up on the stage, I recognized him from the unique ad that was shown with his son on FOX NEWS. As he walked by I asked him for his card and wished him the best for this Novmber as he is running for the senate. Needless to say, Barry Hinckley:BARRY HINCKLEY for SENATE from RHODE iSLAND is one to follow and support in the upcoming election. His plain speak about his life and his families life in the boat building business, and his ideas and beliefs on how government should go about its business, is dear to my heart. If your from the 'OCEAN STATE' here is someone who will represent not only the fishermen, but the best interests of the people of Rhode Island and this country.
if I remember correctly, he told a story about the 'blank-nator' (fill in with either 'jerk', 'sperm' or whatever for the former governor of California) and his torpedoing of fishermen in his state. His comments did get more then a few laughs from the crowd.
Always on target when he speaks.
Long time noted Captain Bob Zales fighting for fishermen on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Council Panels.
For all those fishermen who don't believe positive change can be done by an ad-hoc fishing group, Captain Tony Bogan concisely told the story behind SAVE the SUMMER FLOUNDER FISHERY FUND which through fishermen funding and the work of stock assessment specialist Dr. Mark Maunder, resulted in a 20 percent increase in the summer flounder stock (the stock size went from 50% rebuilt to over 70% rebuilt by the stroke of a pen), which then ended up in giving EVERY fishermen the liberalization benefits we have seen since 2009. That's change that we all benefited from by supporting that one cause.
LONG ISLAND COMMERCIAL FISHING ASSOCIATION
Later on when going through the photos, I noticed Dale from the Jamaica Fleet sitting down on the bench (furthest figure to the left).
When I heard that the Gloucester Times - Fishing Industry section writer Richard Gaines was at the Rally, I wanted to go over to meet and thank him for his outstanding investigative work in exposing a number of very large fishery issues effecting New England fishermen. I lost sight of him as I made my way over to the other side of the podium and then had to ask someone to point out the direction where he had gone. Finally someone said he was 'over there', a noticeable distance from the crowd of people.
As I approached him, I now noticed a somewhat spirited dialogue between Mr. Gaines, and this women in the picture. I got close enough, but still a good distance away since I did want to respect their conversation due to my first thoughts of this possibly being a boy friend/girl friend spat. But upon hearing this female person say 'and the senator did not like some of the comments/references' you made', I lifted my camera up and took a picture of this female aide and Mr. Gaines, as she now stated in a high pitched voice, "no pictures, you cannot take pictures." Fine, i closed my camera up while she was telling me to erase the picture I 'may' have taken, and asked me for my name to which I responded, "I am an American Citizen." A few more comments from her while I shook Mr. Gaines hand and thanked him for his fine articles, before she scurried off in one direction, and Mr. Gaines now walking the other way towards the White House.
Yes I know what a few of you are thinking.....can't take me anywhere. Apologies to Mr. Gaines and to this aide to some senator, who I did see later on, but did not snap any further pictures of her. I did put a little '2 +2' together, and if you read Richard Gaines articles in the Gloucester Times Fishing industry section, you will understand what I mean by '2 + 2."
Here is a group of the Montauk bus and Sheepshead Bay bus fishermen being gathered up just in front of Bonnie Brady. We were being informed that Senator Schumer was going to come out and talk to the New York fishermen on impending issues.
With Captain Tony MJ leading the way, it was now time to move quickly to the bus which we now had directed to the closest point from the Rally area at the corner of Louisiana Ave and D ST.NW. James our bus driver was prompt, and our group scrambled onto the bus. Every minute closer to 4 pm or worse, 5 in the afternoon could add up to an hour or more to our trip home. For those who have never had the experience and displeasure of getting stuck in DC metro traffic in the late afternoon, it is not only the equal to, but can easily surpass the most 'nightmarish' midtown Manhattan traffic gridlock one can imagine.
Everyone now on the bus seemed to make a bee-line over to the coolers which held the catered food that Captain Tony had brought along for this trip. We had a few trays of colorful chicken cutlet, roast beef, turkey, ham and cheese wraps, along with a number of tasty salads, plus a wide assortment of post-Rally beverages. It was time to kick back, stuff oneself and sleep for a little while on the way home. Onward James!
It was time to go over the events of the day and from the consensus we received from the guys on the Sheepshead Bay bus, everyone enjoyed the day. Both Captain Tony and myself were both in agreement in supporting future Rally's, and from what Captain Tony STIRS told me, he would do the same.
There was much good seen here, and I hope for the many fishermen who read some of the reporting about the Rally, keep an open mind and remember who is writing the piece your reading. There is much optimism from what most heard from the politicians about the current bills making their way through congress, and the legislation finally being agreed upon by those both in the House and Senate.
One of the captains on the Pt. Lookout bus sent me this in a email this morning thanking me, writing this on the last line:
Thanks again for your hard work Uniting fisherman, believe it or not it is working.......
Looking back now, it was a long, arduous process to get fishermen not only involved, but to be a participant of what was a truly historical event for American fishermen and the fishing industry. I had my 'agita' over the turnout from my home port here In Sheepshead Bay, but in my after-thoughts about the Rally, I was personally satisfied in being more then just a story teller this time..... I was, and everyone else on board the bus were now little cogs in a big process. It was a good feeling after all the time and work put into the Rally.
Fishermen will always complain about the regulations, the high price of going fishing, or poor fishing. It is human nature. The fight for a better regulatory environment, is an unending battle. As one politician artfully stated, these bills were moving along at 'glacial-like' speeds, so one can understand the under whelming enthusiasm of fishermen wanting to take the time off to get on a bus to head for the Rally in DC. It now seems that there is growing support among various politicians to get the various bills through the 112th Congress. I wish many of you were there to see and hear this from the politicians in Washington.
As I close up this day, hopefully we made a very big and positive difference for all fishermen at the March 21st, Rally in DC.