Injustice and Tryanny on the Ocean Reef

Injustice and Tryanny on the Ocean Reef
A Matter of Public Access
By Anthony P Mauro, Sr (c) 2011

Conservation Corner w/ Anthony P. Mauro, Sr
Conservation Corner w/ Anthony P. Mauro, Sr

USA –-( It may seem like an unlikely title for a topic about ocean reefs, but please humor me a bit.

Frankly, I don’t fish New Jersey’s ocean reefs.

I go striper fishing and fluke fishing a few times a year, but not over ocean reefs.

Regardless, it is as plain as the nose on our face that an injustice is occurring on the ocean reefs and most of us realize as members of society that any injustice allowed to continue will ultimately spread and affect all of us.

The injustice I am referring to is one where the ocean reefs have been taken from their rightful owners. The commercial fishing industry has spread tens-of-thousands of feet of fixed gear (traps and pots) over the ocean reefs and by doing so they restrict access to others.

Those who are restricted from accessing the reefs are the public; recreational anglers and divers. It is the recreational angler and diver, using hook and line, and spear, for whom the ocean reefs were intended. They have paid for the building of the reefs, and for their continued administration, by excise taxes on their fishing and diving gear. The commercial fishing industry does not pay excise taxes on their fixed gear (traps and pots), and therefore pay nothing for the ocean reefs. In essence, they operate their businesses rent free and at the expense of the paying public.

However, this is a deeply rooted injustice being carried out against the public. The injustice is also perpetrated by our own state government. While our government has seen enough of the injustice to have written a bill that to end it, it does not have the determination to pass the bill. Instead the same state government that wrote the bill employs a parliamentary procedure to block its passage. What kind of state government does this? It is certainly not a state government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

The federal government has designed laws and policy that are meant to ensure that state governments do not allow fixed gear (traps and pots) on artificial reefs, these laws and policies are designed to guarantee access. It is called the Federal Sport Fish Restoration Act, which states that the ocean reefs are designed for hook and line, and spear use.

The federal government returns the excise taxes paid by recreational anglers and divers to the states to administer the reefs for purposes of hook and line, and spear fishing. How should we label an injustice that is committed by our own state government against the very people it is meant to represent? What type of state government defies the laws of our federal government that is meant to ensure fair treatment of “the people?” Isn’t this the definition of tyranny? Isn’t this a form of taxation without representation? Isn’t this the same form of tyranny and injustice that that gave birth to our nation?

Now, the federal government has recognized the New Jersey’s acts of injustice and tyranny against “the people” and has terminated funding for the artificial reefs. John F. Organ, Ph.D., Chief, Division of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration, wrote DEP Commissioner Bob Martin and stated that because of conflicts that, “clearly violate provisions of the Sportfish Restoration Act (SFR) and its implementing regulations, I am terminating all further SFR funding for the artificial reef program in New Jersey…” He continued, “Funding can be restored when appropriate action is taken to eliminate the conflicts that currently interfere with recreational fishing on these reefs.”

I will tell you my opinion about the effects of injustice and tyranny on a society; it causes a palpable nervousness. It is a nervousness that seethes, and it is a prolonged seething that eventually ignites the flames of anger. At first it is an anger confined by one’s oppressors, but like any energy that builds strength greater than the force that confines it – the confines rupture. It is our rage that now ruptures the confines of our oppressors. It is rage that drives even the most common of men and women to act in ways to reverse injustice and tyranny.

For those of us who understand the degree of injustice and tyranny being committed against the public by its own state government we face a defining moment. It is as much a moment to assert ourselves and take back the ocean reefs as it is a moment to take back our own state government. We can do both at the same time.

We can request that those elected to represent us to stop blocking a bill designed to reverse the injustice perpetrated by the commercial fishing industry and give us back our reefs. The bill is A1152, and it needs to be heard in by the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. We can contact the Chairman, Assemblyman Albano, and ask that he allow his committee to hear the bill. Our actions may well begin to remove the tyranny of our government and return it to, “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Contact Assemblyman Albano: (609) 465-0700. Politely ask him to allow his committee to hear Bill A1152: Prohibits the use of certain fishing gear on artificial reefs.

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. – Thomas Jefferson

Color The Green Movement Blue
Color The Green Movement Blue

Anthony P. Mauro, Sr, (also known as “Ant” to friends and associates) is Chairman and co-founder of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance.

In addition to NJOA, Ant’s commitment to the principles of sustainable use of natural resources and stewardship for the environment helped to found the New Jersey Angling & Hunting Conservation Caucus. The NJAHC is the first outdoor caucus of its kind in New Jersey and is designed to educate opinion leaders and policy makers of the principles of conservation and the benefits that confer to the state’s wildlife and ecology.

A lifelong resident of New Jersey, Ant is an international big game hunter and avid conservationist. He has authored two books on conservation and hunting, including “Color The Green Movement Blue“.