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Editorial July/August 2012

Walmart and The Walton Foundation

   The Walton Foundation, of Walmart fame, has released their 2011 grant report showing the recipients of $23,000,000 of their enviro money went to the following seven environmental groups:

     Environmental Defense Fund — $9,035,154
     Conservation International Foundation — $4,986,457
     Marine Stewardship Council — $3,122,500
     Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Foundation — $1,934,651
     Ocean Conservancy — $1,665,146
     Nature Conservancy — $1,136,832
     World Wildlife Fund — $992,286

   Why is the Walton Foundation pumping millions and millions of dollars into organizations that support and promote catch shares for both recreational and commercial fishermen across the nation? Is it because of the following comments made by Earl. Comstock, of Comstock Consulting LLC, NOAA External Expert and Advisor, in March 2011 at the Washington based Environmental Law Institute’s Designing Effective and Enforceable Catch Share Systems meeting?
   “Mr. Comstock addressed the challenges to designing catch shares for recreational fisheries. First, anglers and commercial fishermen think in different units – anglers catch “fish,” not “pounds.” Second, recreational fishery managers have different goals than commercial fishery managers; in a recreational fishery, there is no benefit to reducing participation or consolidating an overcapitalized fleet. Also, participation in recreational fisheries is transitory and individual fishermen do not generally have the long time horizon required to buy a quota. Mr. Comstock proposed “angler catch share pools” as one mechanism for dealing with these problems. A non-profit organization could hold the recreational sector’s share allocation, purchase catch shares from the commercial sector, and sell stamps to anglers who wish to fish. The non-profit would be responsible for controlling the recreational harvest through tools like bag limits, seasons, or limits on stamps. This system could promote optimal resource use and conservation.”
   I believe the Walton Foundation and Walmart have been laying the ground work for years to purchase recreational catch share fish quotas through their foundation when implemented, then use their Walmart stores to distribute the stamps or tags to fishermen around the nation. This will allow the Walton Foundation and the environmental community to maintain ownership of our marine resource, make a tremendous profit off the sale of fish stamps and tags, while dictating bag limits, seasons, and size limits to fishermen allowing for the complete control over the fishery management process.
   This is an ingenious plan devised by the environmental community to create tremendous profits through fishing leases and fish tag sales while maintaining total control of fishery management. It started with the environmental communities’ input in the 2006 Magnuson/ Stevens Act reauthorization that set rigid stock rebuilding requirements.
   The next step was the “calling in” of political markers in 2009 by the enviros from the current administration for Obama campaign contributions (Lubchenco’s appointment to NOAA). With a former employee of the Environmental Defense Fund at the helm of NOAA, they next needed to have the public believe our marine resources were in serious trouble and badly in need of a new system of management. This was accomplished by by using their own bought and paid for science and studies that claim our marine resources are overfished and oceans of jellyfish are coming in 2048.
   Coming to the rescue to save the day, save the fishermen from themselves, and save the marine resource with their catch shares system of fishery management would be the enviros next move toward their ultimate goal of profit and control.
   When both recreational and commercial catch shares are implemented, the environmental community can then make a fortune trading paper in a commodity that never had any inherent value or worth what-so-ever. There is no worth or value in a cod fish or a tuna swimming free in the ocean unless you had to buy it or lease it first before going fishing. With catch shares, that fish isn’t even on the dock yet, and it has value that the enviros can cash-in on.
   The scheme is absolutely brilliant—highly unethical, possibly illegal, completely immoral because of the job loss and business failures our fishing industry is experiencing—but it is truly brilliant!
   Because of the Walton Foundation’s support for this unconscionable, clandestine conspiracy to privatize our natural resource and sell it back to the American fishermen, the Recreational Fishing Alliance has proposed a nationwide boycott of Walmart stores by fishermen. The Big Game Fishing Journal supports this boycott and requests our readers inform their saltwater angling friends of this unethical maneuver by the Walton Foundation and Walmart to increase their bottom line by destroying our unalienable right to fish.
   Also, please let your freshwater fishing friends know that as soon as they can figure out how to own freshwater lake, stream and pond fish, they may also be in line at Walmart buying bass, steelhead, salmon, crappy, and trout tags.

   Captain Len Belcaro