Seizing on an absurd claim spread by right-wing blogs that President Obama wants to ban sport fishing, Glenn Beck stated on his Fox News program that Obama is attempting to prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing on some of the nation's oceans, coastal areas, and great lakes "by executive order." In fact, there is no evidence of any such order, but rather a task force which seeks to "better manage" -- not ban -- recreational fishing alongside other uses of ocean, coasts, and lakes.
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Beck forwards fishing ban myth
Beck: "No more fishing. ... People are losing their rights." On the March 10 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck, Beck stated:
BECK: A new report out today says it's a move to appease the environmental groups, and just like before, without your consent, done in darkness by executive order. I told you a year ago this would happen. I'm not some prophet by any stretch of the imaginations. The New York Times said this man would do this.
The report claims that Obama will no longer listen to the public as he tries to prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing on some of the nation's oceans, coastal areas, and great lakes, even some inland waters. No more fishing. Really? Yeah, apparently some environmentalists want to save the fish. Forget about the frickin' fish. People are losing their rights. Who's more important: the fish or you?
He later revisited the topic, stating, "How about a fishing ban? A fishing ban that would put jobs at risk in the middle of an economic crisis, but beyond that, you and your son being told you can't go there to fish! What the hell is happening to us? How are people not seeing this? He's going to do it through executive powers, without consulting the public."
Myth is based on ESPN column later acknowledged to have "errors" and lack of "balance"
ESPNOutdoors.com has acknowledged "errors," lack of "balance" in piece sparking controversy. In a March 9 piece on ESPNOutdoors.com, Robert Montgomery wrote that the "Obama administration will accept no more public input for a federal strategy that could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing some of the nation's oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters." ESPNOutdoors.com executive editor Steve Bowman later posted the following acknowledgement on the site:
ESPNOutdoors.com inadvertently contributed to a flare-up Tuesday when we posted the latest piece in a series of stories on President Barack Obama's newly created Ocean Policy Task Force, a column written by Robert Montgomery, a conservation writer for BASS since 1985. Regrettably, we made several errors in the editing and presentation of this installment. Though our series has included numerous news stories on the topic, this was not one of those -- it was an opinion piece, and should clearly have been labeled as commentary.
And while our series overall has examined several sides of the topic, this particular column was not properly balanced and failed to represent contrary points of view. We have reached out to people on every side of the issue and reported their points of view -- if they chose to respond -- throughout the series, but failed to do so in this specific column.
No evidence of executive order to ban fishing
Task force plan seeks to "better manage," not ban recreational fishing. 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 these two reports did the task force propose a ban on recreational fishing.
Fishing columnist Jeffrey Weeks: "ESPN should be ashamed." Charlotte Fishing Examiner.com 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 Larry Crowder, a marine biology professor at Duke University, stated of the task force: "It's not an environmentalist manifesto." Crowded added: "It's multiple-use planning for the environment, and making sure various uses ... are sustainable." The Monitor 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."