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Pew's Tunnel Vision Helps No One
by Doug Olander

It’s hard these days for anglers to get very far from the issue of no-fishing zones. I found an interesting dichotomy in two recent proposals, one from Bermuda and one from Australia.

From Bermuda comes the Pew Charitable Trusts’ “Blue Halo Zone” proposal that would effectively close the ocean to all “extractive uses” from 50 to 200 miles around the island.

Sure, many marlin are hooked in that “inner zone” where fishing would be allowed, but even so, it makes absolutely zero sense to close off most of the ocean around Bermuda to sport fishing (waters where there neither are nor have been demonstrable problems or threats).

Of particular concern is the precedent set by closing such a vast area with so little scientific justification.

And once again, recreational fishers are thrown under the big bus by powerful environmental interests. Apparently, a major impetus for Blue Halo would be its use as a starting point to eventually make all of the Sargasso Sea a closed marine reserve. Also, Pew claims that closing most of Bermuda’s waters would greatly enhance eco-tourism.

You may be among the many left scratching their heads at that logic. In fact, Bermuda has a long history of protecting its marine resources, and if there are areas in the world where a large marine reserve might be desperately needed, this isn’t one.

The Blue Halo proposal would lock out all charter and private boaters from trolling a vast area of open ocean for big game. Is that necessary to prevent extractive use — when nearly all marlin caught here now are released successfully.

Apparently it’s easier to disregard that and just add blue-water anglers to the list of those to whom the ocean will be made off limits.