Following the lead of an ESPNOutdoors.com opinion writer, who provided no evidence for his claim that a federal strategy "could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing," right-wing blogs have advanced the outlandish charge that Obama "wants to ban sport fishing." These media outlets cited the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force's interim report on coastal and marine planning, but the task force has proposed nothing of the sort.
Right wing seizes on unfounded speculation by ESPN writer
ESPN column: Federal strategy "could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing the nation's oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters." On March 9, Robert Montgomery wrote for EPSNOutdoors.com: "The Obama administration will accept no more public input for a federal strategy that could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing the nation's oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters. This announcement comes at the time when the situation supposedly still is 'fluid' and the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force still hasn't issued its final report on zoning uses of these waters." Montgomery's post, which was also featured on The Daily Caller, has since been updated to state that the strategy "could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing some of the nation's oceans coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters" [emphasis added]. Montgomery also stated in the column:
Led by NOAA's Jane Lubchenco, the task force has shown no overt dislike of recreational angling, but its indifference to the economic, social and biological value of the sport has been deafening.
Additionally, Lubchenco and others in the administration have close ties to environmental groups who would like nothing better than to ban recreational angling. And evidence suggests that these organizations have been the engine behind the task force since before Obama issued a memo creating it last June.
Hoft: "New Regulations Will Ban Sport Fishing." On March 9, Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft posted a blog titled, "Obama's Latest Assault on Freedom-New regulations Will Ban Sport Fishing." Asserting that Obama "wants to ban sport fishing," Hoft quoted from the ESPN column and further stated, "Barack Obama has a message for America's 60,000,000 anglers- We don't need you." From Hoft's post:
Fox Nation: "Obama to Ban Sport Fishing?" On March 10, Fox Nation featured the following headline, linking to the ESPN column and Hoft's Gateway Pundit post:
SayAnythingBlog: "Obama Pushes Ahead With Fishing Ban." In a March 9 post titled, "Because He's Not Unpopular Enough: Obama Pushes Ahead With Fishing Ban," SayAnythingBlog quoted from the ESPN column and wrote, "A ban on fishing would bring a visceral reaction from the public, to be sure. But even so, that a bill like this could even get this much serious consideration is an indication of just how far left Obama has shifted the federal government."
RedState: "Obama: The Will Of The People Be Damned - I'LL Decide Who Can Go Fishing." In a March 9 RedState post titled, "Obama: The Will Of The People Be Damned - I'LL Decide Who Can Go Fishing," Dave Poff quoted the ESPN column's claim that the Obama administration's plan "could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing the nation's oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters." Poff also stated, "*Now* he means to ration recreational fishing and boating, folks," adding that Obama has been "[p]lotting a Federal takeover of all our bodies of water (freshwater...saltwater...doesn't matter), in an effort to set up MORE bureaucracies and circumvent the rights of the States to determine fair use and access rules amongst themselves based on the local interests of everyone involved."
Malkin: "Obama's war on fishing?!?!?!" In a March 9, post titled, "Obama's war on fishing?!?!?!" Michelle Malkin posted the ESPN column's claim that "[t]he Obama administration will accept no more public input for a federal strategy that could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing the nation's oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters." Malkin added, "Longtime readers know I love to fish and have been at war with the anti-fishing nuts at PETA for years."
ESPN column, right-wing bloggers provided no evidence to substantiate claim
ESPN column doesn't support claim that Obama plans to ban sport fishing. Montgomery speculated about "collusion" between "green groups," who "would like nothing better than to ban recreational angling," and the Obama administration, but did not provide any evidence to support his assertion that the federal strategy "could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing the nation's oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters." In fact, later in his column, Montgomery wrote that "the task force has shown no overt dislike of recreational angling," adding, "but its indifference to the economic, social and biological value of the sport has been deafening."
Task force plan seeks to "better manage," not ban recreational fishing alongside other uses of ocean, coasts, lakes. In its September 10, 2009, interim report, the Interagency Ocean Policy task force recommended that the administration implement "coastal and marine spatial planning," which has been described as ocean "zoning." The interim report states that such a system "will allow for the reduction of cumulative impacts from human uses on marine ecosystems, provide greater certainty for the public and private sector in planning new investments, and reduce conflicts among uses and, between using and preserving the environment to sustain critical ecological, economic, and cultural services for this and future generations." A December 9, 2009, task force report discussing coastal and marine spatial planning in more detail states that "CMSP provides an effective process to better manage a range of social, economic, and cultural uses, including" commerce and transportation, commercial fishing, conservation, mining, oil and gas exploration and development and recreational fishing, among many others. Nowhere in the September 10 or December 9 reports does the task force propose a ban on recreational fishing.
Fishing columnist Jeffrey Weeks: "ESPN should be ashamed." Charlotte Fishing Examiner columnist Jeffrey Weeks wrote on March 9: "In what may be the worst example of outdoor sports reporting in the history of America, ESPN has claimed that President Barack Obama is on the verge of banning recreational fishing." Weeks added, "Am I going to agree with everything that this task force does? Probably not. Issues like access to fishery grounds and over-regulation of species without sound scientific data are legitimate concerns. However, in no way shape or form is the task force President Obama created about to ban recreational fishing. That is silly. ESPN should be ashamed."
Marine biologist Larry Crowder: "It's not an environmentalist manifesto." The Christian Science Monitor reported on March 9 that marine biologist Larry Crowder, of Duke University, stated of the task force, "It's not an environmentalist manifesto. It's multiple-use planning for the environment, and making sure various uses ... are sustainable." CSM further reported that "Obama has said he will not override protections put in place by Presidents Clinton and Bush that established recreational fishermen as a special class" and that "nonpartisan experts say the task force has already made strides in better recognizing various stakeholder groups, including recreational fishermen, and that it doesn't intend to undermine the ability of states to manage their natural resources, as many fishermen fear."
Hot Air's Allahpundit: "I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that he will not, in fact, ban fishing." In a March 9 post titled, "ESPN: Obama may ban recreational fishing or something," Hot Air blogger Allahpundit wrote, "I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that he will not, in fact, ban fishing, but the meta-narrative is so irresistible - elitist President Arugula coming to grab the bitter-clingers' rods and reels! - that it simply must be blogged. Odds of a Palin Facebook comment: High." Referring to the jobs dependent on recreational fishing, Allahpundit further stated, "Think The One's going to hand Republicans that talking point in this political climate? How excited do you suppose red-district Democrats will be to see the White House bring down the hammer on fly fishermen with an election eight months away?"