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ESPN Nuttily Claims Obama May Ban Fishing

When my husband David sent me a story about the Obama administration’s secret plan to abolish fishing, I assumed it was from The Onion. But it’s ESPN who’s getting the word out that the president could single-handedly “prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing the nation’s oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters.” You really don’t have to know anything about this upcoming report to know that’s not going to happen.

ESPNOutdoors writer Robert Montgomery then basically turns over the ESPN platform to Phil Morlock, whom he describes as director of environmental affairs for Shimano, a Japanese maker of bikes and fishing equipment. Montgomery lets Morlock ululate uninterrupted for paragraph after paragraph, using preposterous phrases like “Big Green.” A more accurate description would have been that Morlock is a lobbyist for fishing and hunting groups. He’s on the board of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), the group that lobbies for hunters and anglers. And he’s just started a similar group in Canada.

What works for the hunting industry is scaring hunters that Obama has a secret plan to take their guns away. Gun sales rose after Obama was elected. Morlock clearly wants to infect anglers with the same psychosis that makes hunters feel aggrieved and embattled.

Hunters have long tried to rope fishermen into their “sportsmen” mantle. Morlock and Montgomery whine that Obama isn’t considering the huge economic impact of fishing. (I guess they don’t have Google.) Hunters love to conflate stats on how many people fish and hunt because hunter numbers are teeny. Only 12.5 million Americans still hunt, according to the latest national survey; they spend $22.9 billion. A far larger and more reasonable group of 30 million Americans fish, and they spend $42.2 billion. Wildlife watchers outnumber and outspend them all: 71 million participate and spend $45 billion annually.

Morlock lays out how it’s going to go down. The head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “and others in the administration have close ties to environmental groups who would like nothing better than to ban recreational angling.” The piece uses an old conspiracy theory crutch–naming a bunch of obscure federal panels and agencies that are in on the scheme–nearly everyone but the right-wing bad boy FEMA.

If you want to see what Obama is going to do with fishing all across America, all you have to do is look at what happened in Ontario, they claim. This was the Alamo of the sportsmen, where crazy left wingers ended “one of the best scientifically managed big game hunts in North America,” Montgomery transcribes Morlock saying. That back way was in 1999–so this is quite a sneaky plan. The resource minister says she thinks the big reason people are pushing for a spring hunt is to make money, not because it’s secientifically needed.

ESPN is one of the healthiest parts of Disney, which also owns Bassmaster. They have something to gain by promoting fishing, but a lot more to loose by endorsing this kind of foolishness. Are they really going to get behind a “You’ll take my fishing rod when you pry it out of my cold dead hands” approach?

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