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Fishermen’s fear: Public's 'right to fish' shifting under Obama

The Obama administration has proposed using United Nations-guided principles to expand a type of zoning to coastal and even some inland waters. That’s raising concerns among fishermen that their favorite fishing holes may soon be off-limits for bait-casting. In the battle of incremental change that epitomizes the American conservation movement, many weekend anglers fear that the Obama administration’s promise to “fundamentally change” water management in the US will erode what they call the public’s “right to fish,” in turn creating economic losses for the $82 billion recreational fishing industry and a further deterioration of the American outdoorsman’s legacy. Proponents say the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force established by President Obama last June will ultimately benefit the fishing public by managing ecosystems in their entirety rather than by individual uses such as fishing, shipping, or oil exploration. “It’s not an environmentalist manifesto,” says Larry Crowder, a marine biologist at Duke University in North Carolina. “It’s multiple-use planning for the environment, and making sure various uses … are sustainable.” (Amateur outdoorsmen have been fighting for their rights for years, as the Monitor reports here.)

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