Letter: A wake up call to fishermen

POSTED: 11/4/11 12:06 PM

Dear Editor,

I am not prepared to let the behavior of a few morons, greedy people or malicious louts ruin a hobby that I have pursued in a decent and respectful manner for over fifty years. Minister Myers was moved to ban shark fishing due to these reprehensible characters. All fishermen are subject to scrutiny as a result. My letter is not simply about shark fishing. The time is now right for the people on the island who like to fish to form a non-profit, real angling association.
It is not enough to be quietly enjoying our sport when there are those who would destroy it, restrict it for their own ends or simply make sure that it is no longer a pleasure that we can enjoy and pass on to our children and grandchildren. The people of St Maarten have always had access to beaches, have always been able to go fishing from the rocks or piers but now business is squeezing out the ordinary people under various guises which all tend to relate to their own vested interests.

Access to some areas is now so restricted that it is mere lip service to the spirit and letter of the law. When I first mooted the idea of forming an Angling Association some time ago many people told me not to bother. They told me that “This is St Maarten, just keep your head down, keep quiet and the problems will go away.” In normal circumstances that might have been true but some businesses are not going to let that happen when they can use their influence to override the long standing rights and standards by which people have been enjoying their fishing as part of their normal life for many years.
Let us bring about angling in a decent manner on our own terms.
The aim of such an association would be to promote angling as a sport or pastime for its members.

The objectives I would like to see are:
1. To behave as ambassadors of the sport
2. To enroll in and support conservation and research such as Tag and Release
3. Not to kill fish for the sake of killing or through negligent behaviour
4. To take only permitted fish of a reasonable size
5. To dispatch fish that are taken in a humane manner
6. To encourage anglers to leave their angling sites in a clean and safe condition
7. To encourage anglers to report pollution or environmental issues such as lionfish
8. To educate the young in good fishing practices
9. To play an active part in protecting our sport from those would damage or restrict it.
10. To encourage those in authority to recognize anglers and their interest.
11. To promote angling tourism

Some might think that these objectives are a restriction in themselves. I would say that without these common decencies that are taken as the norm in other parts of the world the fishermen and anglers of St Maarten will be easy prey. The most dangerous are those who are the most voluble and who hide their true interests as social concern. The numbers of people involved are quite small but their business interests are high value. If the anglers of St Maarten do not come together then you will only have yourselves to blame when further down the line you find yourself to have no voice with which to put forward your objections or ideas.
I believe that there are many anglers on this island who care about their freedom to go fishing. I also believe that most anglers are decent ordinary people who need a wakeup call. I do not want to enter politics with this association but merely to have a group of decent people who together can, through good example and through numbers have a voice to be heard and taken into account. It is not enough to moan about it afterwards if you do nothing about it now.
You might not fish every day, every week or every month but if you ever feel like fishing then you should be free to do so provided that the laws of the land are respected and a code of decency is observed. Apathy and burying your head in the sand will not work. It leaves the gates open for those who have even a bit of determination or money interest to take advantage of you and your weak will.
I would ask all people who would like to join an angling association with a view to protecting their hobby, now and in the future to contact me via my website at or on Face book at Fishing Fortunes.
When we establish that we have sufficient supporters who wish to consider an angling association I will notify all concerned to come together for a meeting at which we can create the rules of our association and the manner in which we shall promote fishing/angling here on St Maarten. I would like to see this happen with the support and assistance of the Nature Marine Foundation who I am sure would consider fishing for conservation to be vastly superior to the current situation.

In Europe some of the largest conservation societies are actually those created by fishermen to protect their sport, their waters and the environment.
We need to make a stand now and to prevent others from stepping on our rights and the traditional right of the people to enjoy their angling. We cannot make an effective stand of any sort until we are behaving in an appropriate manner that is above criticism. We must not only do this but we must be seen to be doing it.
Join me.

David McGregor

Did you like this? Share it:
Letter: A wake up call to fishermen by

Comments (2)

 

  1. irie says:

    Hey David,

    You have all the right reasons for forming an association and I hope you succeed. Also, the objectives of that association sounds reasonable and fair, if met.

    Just one small piece of advice, I think you have to be a little more proactive to get your required membership numbers. Only a few will contact you via the internet, not a great following. You have to go out there, talk to these people and persuade them. You have to lead, or have someone else be a leader.

    I hope all the best in your mission!