Radio Address by President Bush to the Nation
Contact: White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 202-456-2580
WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 /Christian Newswire/ -- The following text is of this week's radio address to the nation by President Bush:
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This weekend, I will join millions of Americans in one of our favorite national pastimes: fishing. I'm going to be on the Chesapeake Bay. For those who love fishing, the most important thing is not the size of your catch but the enjoyment of the great outdoors. Every year, millions of Americans grab their tackle boxes and head out to their favorite fishing holes. No matter where they drop their lines, they build memories that last a lifetime. And in the process, they contribute billions of dollars to our economy.
My Administration is committed to protecting the environment that our sportsmen depend on. We believe that to meet the environmental challenges of the 21st century, we must bring together conservationists, fishermen, sportsmen, local leaders, and Federal, State, and tribal officials in a spirit of cooperation. I call this "cooperative conservation." Instead of the old environmental debates that pit one group against another, we're moving our country toward a system where citizens and government can come together to achieve meaningful results for our environment.
One way we are practicing cooperative conservation is through our efforts to preserve our fisheries. Almost three years ago, I announced an ocean action plan to promote an ethic of responsible stewardship that will make our waterways cleaner, healthier, and more productive. Last year, I was proud to establish a marine conservation area in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. This is the single largest conservation area in the history of our Nation -- and the largest protected marine area in the world. We're also working to clean up marine debris and to address harmful fishing practices in international waters that destroy corals and other vital habitats. Earlier this year, I signed a law that will help end overfishing and create market-based regulations to replenish our fish stocks so we can keep them strong for generations to come.
Prior to my fishing trip I am signing an Executive Order that will preserve two of our Nation's most popular recreational fish -- striped bass and red drum. These two species were once abundant in American waters, but their stocks have been overfished. The Executive Order I sign will protect striped bass and red drum caught in Federal waters by moving to prohibit their commercial sale. It will promote more accurate scientific records about fish population levels. And it will help the Federal Government work with State and local officials to find innovative ways to ensure these two species are conserved for future generations.
As we work to protect our Nation's fisheries, we're also working to help migratory birds thrive. Each year, more than 800 species of birds make their way south for the winter, and then return home to their breeding grounds the following spring. Their ability to survive these long journeys depends on stopover habitat. Unfortunately, some of the areas where birds once stopped and rested on their great migrations have been lost to development. So we're working to protect these species by restoring or replacing their stopover habitats.
One key way we're doing this is by expanding our National Wildlife Refuges, creating new ones, and restoring and improving hundreds of thousands of acres of habitat for migratory birds. At the same time, we're bringing together Federal, State, and tribal agencies to work with private groups and corporations to improve habitat on private lands. The Department of the Interior is also working with cities across our Nation to build stopover habitats in urban areas. And this weekend I'm announcing new policies -- including new efforts with Mexico to foster greater habitat conservation for the migratory birds.
America's national parks also play a vital role in our conservation efforts. Earlier this week, Laura spoke at the first-ever Leadership Summit of the National Park Foundation. She discussed the National Parks Centennial Initiative -- a public-private partnership to raise funds for the park system's 100th anniversary in 2016. This initiative will support many vital projects to improve habitats for local wildlife -- including some that will directly benefit birds.
As Americans, we've been given a beautiful country to live in, and we have an obligation to be good stewards of the environment. With the cooperative conservation policies we have put in place, we show our commitment to preserving our Nation's heritage. By making responsible choices today, we will ensure that our children and grandchildren will enjoy a cleaner and more vibrant environment.
From Press Briefing on the President's Conservation Announcements by Jim Connaughton, Chairman, Council on Environmental Quality
Q This is a fish question. Is there any recognition on the administration's part that there is serious opposition to new game fish status from the commercial fishing industry?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: I want to differentiate -- the executive order deals with federal waters where these fish -- where the catch of these fish is already banned and we're talking about a conservation management measure as we move forward. There is substantial commercial fishing of these species in state waters, and the executive order does not affect the decisions of states in terms of the management of these species and their waters.
So to the extent you may hear things from the commercial fishing industry, this does not change their status with respect to any particular state.
Q With regards to red drum, I guess, there's pretty much an outright ban right now in federal waters on the commercial and recreational side. But in order for that ban to be lifted, you've got to go through the council process and through the National Marine Fisheries Service, and get rules published. So would this executive order circumvent that in any way, or is it just basically saying do this faster? What exactly is this going to do?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: This executive order would further inform and guide those decision-making processes which I think your question correctly implies. We have seen recovery of these species in federal waters. The specific status of each species -- of the two species is variable, depending on what region you're in. And so this is an effort to make sure, as we move from the complete ban to some access, that we do so in a sensible, conservation-minded way.
Q Let me follow up on that, please. Does the White House believe the ban -- right now, does the White House believe that ban should be lifted in some areas?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: There's actually a process underway in each of the relevant fish councils to examine that. And as I've indicated, the status of the species in different regions is different. And so we don't have a -- we can't have a belief one way or another. There is a scientific process by which those decisions are made, and this provides some further information and guidance as those decisions are made in the event the ban is lifted.
Q Do you anticipate any lifting in the near future?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: I don't know.
Q What role did the Coastal Conservation Association and other sport -- recreational fishing groups play in the drafting of this executive order?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: We had heard over the course of the last couple of years from a number of recreational fishing interests about the importance of sound conservation management of species, and in particular, these two species, the stripers and the red fish -- they're very popular recreational species -- but not limited to that. We've been doing a lot of work with them on this new program, for example, on monitoring of catch -- salt water catch. And we've been working with them on other species such as the red snapper, which is a very, very popular recreational and commercial fishing species that will be subject to a new fish quota system down in the Gulf, for example.
So we have lots of ongoing conversations. This is just one aspect of a fairly regular interface with the recreational fishing community.
Q Exactly what scientific data do you have to say that these two fish species are being over-fished?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Well, actually there was a pretty solid basis of science that led to the ban on these fish in federal waters. Beginning in the late '70s and early (inaudible) there was a very significant population decline, and again, depending on where you are in the nation's waters, there have been variable recovery rates of these species. And so there's an ongoing process in each of the relevant regions of scientific assessment of the populations, calibrated against the information that's being gleaned in the state waters with respect to these (inaudible.)
Q So the idea of this ban is essentially if the limitations in federal waters are lifted in the future, it would mean that these two species would remain unavailable to commercial fishermen and would essentially be for recreational fishermen only; is that correct?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: It would be for recreational fishermen and, again, not for commercial sale. So it would be for fishermen who wish to catch and consume their fish, but not to create a business enterprise out of the consumption of the fish.
So for a father and his son to go out in federal saltwater and catch a fish, that's okay, but not creating -- at this point, not creating -- sort of completely reopening it to full, unimpeded (inaudible).
Q But I imagine there would have to be concurrent strict regulations on the recreational catch, given that the recreational industry is growing at a pretty rapid pace.
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Yes, and that will -- that gets worked out in each of the regional fish plans. All of this fishing activity, whether it's in federal or state waters, is subject to the decisions of those fish councils. And it's highly variable -- it's highly variable from one region to another.
There are lots of folks that want to see the EEZ opened to recreational fishing. (not me but that is another story). Anyway, the big concern of many of many of these people is that once it is opened up the commercial sector will say "look more fish are available than we thought, we should get some more quota".
One theory is that this type of concern contributed to keeping the EEZ closed. With this order that concern is (in theory) gone.
Also considering the following statement "And it will help the Federal Government work with State and local officials to find innovative ways to ensure these two species are conserved for future generations." One MIGHT could interpret this to mean and later join the states that already have game fish status for these species. But that is a bit of a stretch.
Unless this is part of a larger plan, he's taking a step backwards in protecting Rockfish. NOBODY could catch them in the EEZ before today. His Executive order actually increases the mortality rates. Tom, in the current "mathmatics" they use for striper TAL/ quota is mortality factored in besides harvest?