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Due to the length of the post, I am having to post this in 2 separate threads.

Rep. Steve Southerland of Florida’s 2nd Congressional District is what we at the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) call a Fishing Champion.

Since his election to Congress in 2010, Rep. Southerland has stood up for all fishermen along the Gulf of Mexico, recreational and commercial alike, while passionately representing coastal interests in the House Natural Resources Committee.

In the face of a presidential executive order creating a National Ocean Policy, Rep. Southerland asked the tough questions, eliciting confusing and contradictory answers by the White House staff and NOAA administrator as to whether new laws and regulations would be required.

Rep. Southerland doesn’t pitch softballs to bureaucrats, but instead demands answers to tough questions as to how the appointed government employees plan on delivering on their pledges to the American people; a perfect example being congressionally mandated requirement that NOAA Fisheries overhaul their recreational angler data collection program by the 2009 deadline, an important scientific task which the government has still not met and for which Rep. Southerland has be particularly vocal.

In recent years - and in light of the government’s failure to meet their congressional mandates for improved science and data collection - extremist non-government organizations like Pew Environment Group (PEW) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have invested heavily in a cap and trade fisheries program which works by limiting the number of fishermen while trading away ownership of the fish stock itself to a few, well-heeled groups and individuals.

Falsely claiming to represent the best interests of all fishermen – even getting invited to testify before the House Natural Resources Committee in favor of their privatization scheme - the individuals who own shares of fish stocks are hoping to expand on the PEW/EDF fisheries ownership plot, breaking down the barrier between the commercial and recreational sectors in a winner-take-all battle over resource allocation.


In a recent debate before the entire House of Representatives, Rep. Southerland (a Republican) joined ranks with liberal Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank (a Democrat) in passing legislation designed to halt funding on the spread of this all-out fish grab. Also known as ‘catch shares’ or individual fishing quotas (IFQs), this devious plan devised by PEW and EDF has had a debilitating impact on the New England fishing communities, forcing small-scale operators, individual owners and private anglers out of action while allowing big corporate operators, often from out of the region, to buy their way into ownership of what once was a public natural resource.

Rep. Southerland should be commended for standing up to this take-over attempt, but the environmental organizations like EDF and PEW - those who wish to limit fish harvest to a few well-connected and hand-selected advocates- have a lot riding on this investment scheme, and they’re not about to let a freshman Congressman like Steve Southerland stand in the way of their corrupted agenda.

According to IRS tax documents, EDF has invested more than $750,000 in the past 3 years alone in creating pseudo fishing organizations like the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders Alliance, Gulf Fishermen’s Association and South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association. As these EDF-funded organizations continue to lobby legislators and fisheries managers to further restrict coastal fishing opportunities in an effort to further divide the community and expand upon these limited entry business models, investors have been lining up at the trough.

Take Michael Miglini for example, a former tech investor from Austin, TX who was quoted in an Associated Press story on August 5, 2000 following one of the most volatile days in Wall Street history as having “lost more money in this week than I made in the previous two years." According to the AP story, Miglini had recently sold his construction company and invested heavily in technology stocks which completely collapsed in the market turn.

Twelve years later, Miglini is the owner of fisheries IFQs through several different business interests, including South Atlantic Fishing, Inc. and Great Sage, Inc. In 2011, he received another $48,000 from the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders Alliance to start a new organization called the Charter Fishermen’s Association (CFA), a group designed to look like a recreational fishing industry outfit made up solely of recreational charter boat captains. Upon closer look at the CFA board of directors however - Gary Jarvis, Mike Jennings, Michael Colby, Billy Archer, Chad Haggert and Steve Tomeny - one will also find three of the six members also hold commercial IFQ permits, while another is president of a commercial marine association.


The opinion sections of Florida newspapers have been heavy with anti-Southerland rhetoric by many of the EDF-endowed fishermen all claiming to represent the poor, huddled masses. A little bit of research will show however that the individuals do not in any way, shape or form represent the interests of the fishing public, especially not when their goal of privatizing natural resource has been directly funded by New York City and Philadelphia based environmental business organizations like EDF and PEW.

In addition to Jarvis, Jennings, Colby, Tomeny and Miglini, other representatives of the EDF-funded groups getting printed bylines in newspapers up and down the Gulf Coast of Florida of late, as well as in publications as far north as Massachusetts, including Jim Clements. A board member of the EDF-funded Gulf Fishermen’s Association, Clements recently told the Gloucester Times how he is financing one of his two boats for a captain who has no shares of fish and is therefore not able to fish. “He is doing fine by leasing the allocation for each species of fish that he catches,” Clements said, essentially describing how he functions as the broker through this method of coastal sharecropping.

In actuality, Clements doesn’t have to struggle any longer trying to fill a single bucket of fish himself just to secure a living in commercial fishing; not so long as he gets harvest shares which he can then lease back to real fishermen at a significant profit. Clements and others have created a rather unique investment opportunity, all thanks to the gracious support of the environmental business leaders and lobbyists at EDF!

Then there’s recent Tampa Tribune editorialist Dean Pruitt of Madeira Beach, another Gulf Fishermen’s Association board member and EDF funded captain who recently slammed Rep. Southerland for having “humiliated Florida recreational fishermen who have traveled to Washington to testify before his committee.” Pruitt bases his argument on a recent political action alert issued by environmental lobbyist Matt Tinning of the Pew-funded Marine Fish Conservation Network who describes CFA’s Michael Colby as having been “treated with remarkable contempt” at the congressional, adding how another charter captain named Terry Gibson also “endured a similarly offensive barrage.”
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