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  IB Hooked - April 13

  To finish off last week’s crap ya gotta ask a question, when is an argument intellectually corrupt? It’s when the argument basis is known to be based on faulty assumptions that defy logic. It’s when you pursue an argument rabidly and omit evidence known to be very inconvenient to your argument which is what now happens in our win-at-any-cost truth-be-damned legal system.

  Such a fraud played out in the Houston courtroom of Federal judge Belinda Harmon. The CCA et. al. sued NOAA Fisheries claiming that red snapper are over fished in the Gulf of Mexico and that shrimpers were one of the prime offenders. The basis for their argument were government computer models that show the red snapper population at just 3 percent of historic populations. The problem is that one of the foundations of the models are surveys conducted over a hundred and fifty years ago off the Texas coast that reported finding no commercially viable red snapper population. The other contention is that the shrimping fleet is responsible for an 80 percent mortality rate among the juvenile or 0-2 year old recruitment classes of red snapper.

  The ol’ saw “Hoist on your own Petard” comes to mind when I think of the kind of defense NOAA Fisheries had to mount. How does one argue that the methods one has used for decades to manage a public resource are ill conceived and based on statistical extrapolation that an alchemist wouldn’t accept? Welllllllll, they didn’t. They could not admit that the model was fantasy soooooo, they tried and failed to have the judge consider some recent research that suggests the true by catch mortality from shrimpin’ is more like 12-26 percent of the 0-2 year old class. Are y’all getting the picture of what happened here? Thought so.

  So, what has the CCA et. al. won? They’ve won the establishment of some draconian rules that kicks the doo-doo out of the average Joe and mom and pop charter head boat operations. Unsaid in all this crap is whether any reforms will be required in fisheries management. Will the models used ever be fixed to more accurately reflect reality, can they be fixed or is this gonna be a case intellectual fraud perpetuated by a bureaucracy and now condoned by a Federal judge. The answer may come in December when the parties next meet in Judge Harmon’s court and NOAA Fisheries has to introduce a new rebuilding plan. If the same model is present, logic would dictate that the court would announce its intention to list red snapper on the Endangered Species List off the Texas Gulf coast. Cuz three percent of a non-commercially viable population should merit it. If on the other hand the subject enters the realm of rational debate and both the plaintiffs and the defendant decide to come clean on this mess and educate her honor on the complexities of this mess the outcome could be entirely different. Walter Fondren and the organization he founded, the Coastal Conservation Association have a long history of fine work in fishery preservation and enhancement, that’s why the International Game Fish Association just recognized the CCA with its Conservation Award last January. Y’all should hope like hell they’ll return to their roots as rational honest problem solvers.

  The good news came out of Sodom on the Colorado at the TP&W meet. The commissioners authorized our game wardens to do a tad bit more than monitor commercial landings of the red critters. They’re now authorized to ticket and prosecute miscreants that the Feds ain’t interested in. More on that soon.     

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