The Pew Charitable Trusts describes itself as "a knowledge-based advocate for policy solutions in the areas of the environment, state issues, economic concerns, and the health and financial security of the American people." Backed by Pew's assets that approach $6 billion is Pew's powerful worldwide Environment Group.
For the first time in his 20-year tenure heading up that major part of Pew, Josh Reichert has granted an interview to a sport-fishing publication. Arguably, no single individual among all environmental organizations wields more influence in the area of marine conservation in the United States and the world. Whether one agrees with what Reichert says or not, we think it's critical to hear his thoughts on issues of concern to anglers and the larger recreational-fishing community.
You can read the Pew interview in its entirety here. Then, come back and let us know what you think...
Mr Reichert makes some very good points. I do agree with him that where there is uncertainty the right thing to do is err on the side of conservation. On this point, I would say that research needs to be balanced between good science, reality and common sense. The most obvious point made was that industrial/commercial operations are causing the most destruction to the world's fisheries. The world needs to wake up to this and stop making excuses. We all need to play a bigger part in advocating for the safe management of the oceans fishes. He also makes an excellent point about some groups skewing the message for the own self interest. There seems to be a real chasm between conservation groups like Pew and the recreational angler as an individual. Outreach, like you said, is very important. "Green" groups and commercials are far more organized than recreational angling conservation groups and thus are better able to focus (or sell) a message. Much more needs to be accomplished with preserving the oceans and recreationals need a much larger stage and a much louder voice. This interview serves as a start. Nobody, I don't think, wants to see the depletion of the oceans. However, it does seem that we are in a race to catch the last fish.
I read with interest the comments and answers from Josh Reichart of Pew Environmental. The best description I can offer is that Mr. Reichart does a masterful job at obfuscating the truth utilizing a learned, arrogant confidence backed by the goals and objectives of the $6 Billion organization he represents.
Pew's infiltration into our Government and its policy making, particularly the U.S. Department of commerce, should give pause for concern for the majority of American's who enjoy their freedom and the individual rights granted us by the Constitution of the United States of America.
Allow me to use an analogy outside of this argument but perhaps equally as polarizing. I liken Pew's infiltration and indoctrination of U.S. Governmental Agencies to the indoctrination that Americans citizens and families have received over the past 45 years after President Johnson allowed psychiatry to infiltrate our nationís public school systems. Through a continued indoctrination process, we have morphed from "personal responsibility" to a society where we now emphasize instead the more "socially acceptable" concepts like cooperative learning, study groups; group projects, collaborative writing, grading on a "curve", ad infinitum.
We now have in effect removed the responsibility from both the teacher and the student for their education. This has led us to psychiatry's goal of a feel-good "everybody's a winner" even if they don't learn anything society. We have experienced continued degradation of the educational system in an effort to "control" our children. Disorders of a near unimaginable magnitude have been allowed to permeate our society in an effort to sell more drugs that "fix" these problems. Need I mention the original "Ritalin"? The pervasiveness of new "syndromes" and "disorders" have led to a drugged society who has cast aside personal responsibility and has now succumbed to "General Anxiety Disorder". The inventors of these diseases are the drug companies who have as their goal exponential profits for themselves at the expense of those who would otherwise survive without them, just like we used to do.
From a steady, year -over-year indoctrination, we now have a society where everyone is equal and "success for all" becomes the rule of the day. Has this not led to the eradication of educational excellence? If we create a system where we cherish "self-esteem" over learning, aren't we saying that all children should then rise - or fall - to a level of mediocrity? If our children are brainwashed to believe that they too should feel badly when they achieve because another person's feelings would be hurt, what are we telling them?
After 45 years of continued, incessant indoctrination, we now get to attend T-ball games where "everyone" gets a trophy win-or-lose. "Why, we can't have Johnnyís feelings hurt". When in truth, when no one wins, everyone loses.
That's enough of the rant. The analogy here can be poignant when looking at the same steadied week-over-week, month-over-month, and year-over year indoctrination by this massively funded organization (PEW). For each statement made by PEW such as the statement that Pew is working on "the mitigation of greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change" and "the protection of the ocean environment, with a predominant focus on marine fisheries" there are most definitely equal and opposite opinions to the contrary.
Let there be no mistake. The long term goal here is for the environmental extremist community to control what we do, when we do it. What we eat, how we eat it. What we drive and how much and when we will drive it. When and if we will fish and if we would ever be allowed to keep it. Or maybe we will simply be lucky enough to take an "ocean joyride" where we cruise the ocean only to take photographs of that which we may find interesting. The taking of fish, will not be one of the enjoyable activities allowed.
Notice anything happening folks? How about - "If you're not Green, you're mean"? I am willing to bet that many of you have wondered from time-to-time "how did we get here?" in terms of our educational system today. I'm also willing to bet that many of my fellow recreational anglers continue to wonder "how can these folks make such an irrational decisions without the faintest sense of responsibility or accountability for those whom their decisions may affect"? What is true for us is irrelevant to them.
Let me focus your attention on one of the more salient points that Ed made in his questioning of Mr. Reichart with respect to the Red Snapper fishery (page 19 paragraph four (4). Take a close look at Mr. Reich artís answer. Did he answer the question? Perhaps, but in a way that obfuscates the truth. Notice that he completely dances around the question without ever answering it directly. I call this the "coconut twist". Nice try Mr. Reichart! I'm not buying it.
I do have to give Mr. Reichart credit for his answer to Ed's last question though: "Yet ironically, when anglers think of Pew, rather than thinking about protecting Billfish, they think about "taking away my rights"[/I] Mr. Reichart states "If some people want to continue to insist that there's something Machiavellian going on about what we're doing or that we're trying to disguise our "real intentions" the best we can do is to be absolutely transparent about our work and then get on with the job of preventing overfishing and rebuilding populations that are so critical to both the commercial and recreational fishing industries".
Fantastic I say! Let's begin with "absolute transparency"! Here's my list:
1. Please provide a complete list of donors in excess of $50,000.00 to Pew Environmental.
2. Provide a list of lobbyists that Pew has hired to lobby our U.S. Government officials. No pressure here, let's just begin in 1970; prior to the enactment of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and carry this forward to the Magnuson-Stevens Re-authorization Act.
3. Name the names of the U.S. Senators and Congressmen/Women that Pew has lobbied, purchased dinners and entertainment for, along with any other perks provided as it relates to your efforts to gain control of our U.S. marine fisheries.
4. Describe the benefits gained by Pew and its contributors (in detail) as a result of these lobbying efforts.
5. Provide a detailed listing of all contributions made to the aforementioned group of U.S. Senators and Congressmen/Women.
6. Provide a detailed list of income and expenses for Pew Environmental / Pew Charitable Trusts and any other Pew environmental Division only as it relates to our oceans and U.S. Fisheries.
7. Provide in detail, year-over-year written minutes of meetings concerning your strategy, the goals and objectives of Pew pertaining to the control and eventual takeover/ownership of the U.S. Marine Fisheries including those who will profit from these actions now, and in the future.
8. Describe in detail the purchased benefits and association with the U.S. Department of Commerce and its various agencies including, but not limited to NOAA and NMFS.
9. Describe in detail the impact of your input relating to our U.S. Marine Fisheries as a participant, member of a focus group, study or other form of influence (paid or unpaid) with respect to your association with NOAA and NMFS.
10. Provide any written material including your plan of attack against the recreational angler to subvert, demean, make less of and prove the recreational angler "guilty" of violating the tenants proposed by Pew in ensuring that NO recreational angler is allowed to take or kill a fish for his or her own consumption or benefit.
11. Describe in detail your goals and objectives as it relates to our U.S. Marine Fisheries by the year 2020 and as it relates to the fishing rights and opportunities including the taking of fish for food by the recreational angler.
Let's start there Mr. Reichart. I'm sure more questions will follow, but I want you to know that I deeply appreciate your offer to become "absolutely transparent". Let's do that first, before you "quickly get on with the job of preventing overfishing and rebuilding populations that are so critical to both the commercial and recreational angler"!
Lastly sir, let me please point out a rather salient form of hypocrisy in your own words. In the paragraph above you eloquently refer to "rebuilding populations that are so critical to both commercial and recreational anglers".
Yet, the words that flow conveniently in your answers for the most part conflict with your chronic opinions which mirror the goals and objectives of Pew and its contributors.
I challenge those who have an interest in protecting our long term right to fish at all. "Follow the money" in your research. Follow the money!
Thanks for listening!
Last edited by shipfast; 05-23-09 at 11:21 AM.
I was reading the interview between SF editor Doug Olander and Pew's Joshua Reichert. I was laughing my head off as I was reading it until I realized it wasn't the annual April Fools issue. Then I said, "these guys can't be serious."
I've been familiar with Pew since 2000 and have been following their actions since. I lost count of the flat-out lies that Reichert told in the interview.
Question #2 almost made me throw up. Reichert is not a fisherman and probably never has been. What is he? Everything I've read say he's a Vegan and a militant one at that. The difference between Vegans and Vegetarians is that a Vegetarian is pretty much live-n-let-live; "you don't make me eat cow or wear leather and I won't make you eat Tofu." But a Vegan is a Vegetarian on steroids - they insist on cramming their weird, twisted food lifestyle literally down our throats. That's fascist.
Mr Olander, I have been subscribing to your magazine for approximately 25 years. But the last year or so, your editorials have definitely gone screwy. Your editorial stances are more and more pro-enviro by the issue. Then your interview in this issue topped it off by teeing up the ball for Reichert so he'd have a platform with which he could con yet more recreational anglers who are willing to take things at face value and not do their own research. Could your questions have been any more softball than they were? I don't think so.
My latest issue included a renewal notice, that my next issue will be my last. Yep, it definitely will be my last. Buh-bye.
Last edited by Catch-All; 05-23-09 at 01:11 AM.
I am an Oregon angler. I belong to no organizations. I have been a leading defender of our marine fishing for more than a decade, and a critic of Pew Environment Group primarily for its dishonesty, fear mongering and aggressive business expansion in the area of marine fishing here in Oregon.
I was on both Oregon Ocean Policy Advisory Councils (OPAC), the first shut down in 2003 by the Oregon Legislature and the new one, which still exists. I drafted the first version of the 2003 state law that shut the first OPAC down. OPAC was reorganized by that law because before it was structured in a way that would always support what the governor wanted, and because it would not listen to facts.
By "dishonesty" of Pew I cite examples of Our Ocean, Pew Environment Group's outfit here in Oregon, saying it had community support for a list of marine reserves site proposals it moved forward to the OPAC last fall. In truth, it spoke almost entirely to persons either on the Our Ocean payroll or sympathetic to Pew. I suppose they constitute a "community" of some sort but in the text of Oregon's governor's executive order for how he wanted the marine reserves site nominations to proceed, a reasonable person would presume Gov. Ted Kulongoski meant a more traditional definition of the term.
As for "fear mongering", Our Ocean (Pew) referenced a host of supposed threats to the neashore environment that are either not relevant or nonexistent.
For example, the Pew boss in the SF interview said his group is mostly concerned with "industrial" fishing, and then with sport fishing where sport fishing is the dominant problem.
Therein lies the biggest part of the problem Oregon anglers and the communities they support have with Pew: No problem was identified in Oregon's territorial sea (the only place where states have some authority in marine affairs, out to three miles from shore). No analysis was done of current management, to ascertain whether it is responsible for or can be responsive to the non-problem. Instead, our governor, believing in the mostly junk science of ecologists and conservation biologists (as opposed to fish and fishery biologists and traditional scientists), did not ask OPAC for its advice on the basic question of marine reserves before he simply made the policy choice himself that Oregon shall have them.
There is no "industrial" fishing going on in our territorial sea, and hardly any commercial dive fisheries. Sport and commercial fishing are heavily regulated by our state. If there were a problem, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife would do as it always has: reduce bag or season limits. No government is perfect, but the Oregon system of management is in my opinion more advanced and responsive to environmental problems than our neighboring states.
But to jump to a purported necessity for marine reserves without identifying a problem or analyzing current management and its options is policy done backwards. We're supposed to live with a solution before identifying a problem, and before identifying any alternatives to the chosen solution. It's just like a doctor you didn't ask for advice telling you he's going to amputate your leg when you have no complaints or pain with it, just because amputation is an effective response to some medical conditions some people have had somewhere else.
Pew might say I and others initimately familiar with Oregon's nearshore waters (I also surf and dive) are "in denial." Let them, but they'd better bring evidence of the problem so we can debate it and cite facts. So far they have not.
The Pew boss said that certain organizations with a vested interest are spreading falsehoods about Pew. "Rather, it is a concerted effort of some fishing organizations to simply distort what we do," he said in the interview. He wants us to suppose Pew has no vested interest, evidently.
His remark might be true somewhere, but in the main it's not true here. Most organizations didn't get involved here until Pew started applying pressure. Some may be more vitriolic than others, granted, but the Pew man was misrepresenting the facts. He started a fight here, and we're trying to defend ourselves and communities from Pew. Having served on both the state's ocean policy advisory councils, I know that most Oregon fishermen were factual in their testimony. Many showed much more patience with the aggressive threats coming from Pew than those threats deserved.
He referenced "opinion pieces" and "letters to editors." Those are the same thing. I seek them out, read and file them. They all say the same thing: There are huge problems, we're causing them, marine reserves are the only answer ("powerful tool for marine conservation" they like to say) and if we don't designate no-fishing zones right away, we're going to trash the ocean beyond the point of recovery.
Part of the research industry, and it is an industry, and the Pew boss referenced what they call "science" in an effort to support their claim that marine reserves work everywhere they're tried, and create nurseries for more fish abundance.
The latter is almost entirely speculation rather than demonstrated fact.
In point of fact, they work in some places and show no biological effect in others. Where they work best is in areas of overfishing and few or no regulations, or enforcement of regulations. That's the opposite of what we have in Oregon. They also have shown very mixed results in environments comparable to ours, and none are comparable to our management system.
Then at a subset of places where they have shown an effect, often the comparison is very narrow and based on immobile or semi-mobile species.
Sure, if you compare abundance of an immobile species (limpets, for example) that people like to harvest in an easily harvested area, close it to fishing, and come back and look a few years later it's predictable that there will be more of that immobile species in the area where you banned the fishing of it. But that says nothing of the performance of the marine reserve apart from that predictable outcome.
I have seen the social effects of environmentalists putting their personal and professional interests ahead of both the community and the environment. Some forest practices needed to change, for example, but the environmentalists went way too far and shut down whole communities, with severe social ills as a result. We don't have balanced forest management anymore in Oregon. The Pew guy said the fishing community should focus more of its energy on the more severe problems than marine reserves. Well, I say Pew should. Pew could do some good here in Oregon if it did. Instead, it wants to do us harm for no valid reason, other than its self interest in reducing where we can fish, which will reduce community well-being and employment.
Remember, no problem in Oregon's territorial sea has been identified, no industrial fishing goes on there, and no analysis of management was conducted -- just a jump by a political leader, our governor, to have marine reserves.
So do I have a problem with Pew? Yes, and it's not for the reasons the Pew boss listed. It's because it appears in all Pew does here in Oregon to be a mean-spirited, self-absorbed, dishonest, community-hating group of elitists who will stop at nothing to harm hard working, honest people who aren't doing any harm to the environment.
As for the writer above who lambasted SF editor Doug Olander, with sincere respect, sir, I was a full-time reporter and part-time outdoor writer in the 1988 to 1999 and Doug was one of the two best editors I ever worked with (the other, I think rather interestingly, was at Surfer Magazine). If you follow his line of questioning of the Pew spokesman you'll see he asked some tough questions. He did so in a gentlemanly fashion, but he got them asked. Compare his questions and the order in which he asked them to how they do it at major media and you can see quickly what I'm talking about.
SF: How do you account for the perception that Pew wants to close off much of the ocean to fishing?
JR: I think it is mainly the result of efforts by some fishing organizations to whip up their constituencies in order to help them recruit members and raise money.
As to the above, the PEW guy should have just straight out said - RFA. The RFAs extremism backfires and instead makes fisherman look stupid to the public.
it's encouraging to see that the SF interview with josh reichert is provoking thought and reasonable discourse. that's exactly the point of course. no one has to agree or "buy into" anything reichert says, but an interview like this can offer valuable insight for those who are concerned about pew's influence and for those who, like SF's editors, feel that knowing more about the mindset of a pew top dog can be another tool to assess and deal with the organization. thanks, too, for your comments above john -- i also suspect reichert would agree that these were NOT softball questions. also an interview like this can actually be used as a tool by groups concerned about an organization like pew to solidify their own positions and alert members of concerns.
Last edited by TOP SHOT; 05-29-09 at 08:04 PM.
First, my thanks and congratulations on seeking this interview and bringing the thought provoking content to SF readers. There is a saying that one should keep their friends close and their enemies even closer. I am not yet convinced that Josh is the enemy (despite the deep felt concerns expressed by others), but I am convinced that awareness and direct and constructive dialogue are needed or this stalemate is not going to be resolved in favor of the recreational angler.
For context, I have spent much of my career bringing senior scientific and policy representatives from worldwide government agencies, industry, non-governmental organizations, and academia together to work through charged issues and adversarial positions, and have achieved success in doing so. Not easy, but the alternative is long distance name calling and mud slinging based on distorted premises of the positions of others. Name calling could bring some self satisfaction, but is not likely to accomplish much. So what is the alternative if we (SF, recreational anglers) do not engage with Pew? Hmmm, Pew has $8 billion and we have ??? (much less) - - that does not sound like a winning formula for us.
I am willing to (1) accept Josh's outreach that he is someone who "love(s) to fish" and that he (Pew) is working towards "environmental quality" and (2) engage with Pew under those mutual understandings. Are there any SF readers who would honestly not support (a) attaining less floating plastic/oil/drifting fishing gear, (b) less bilge in our near shore water, (c) more robust fish populations? Aren't a, b,c all "environmental quality" and what Pew would also want? If a recreational angler/SF were to make a list of their vision for the environmental quality of the ocean and the presence and quality of the fish present, how different would that list look from one constructed by Pew? Probably not that different. The devil is in the details of how we get there. SF/recreational anglers do not need to adapt the values of all Pew members and vice versa to open a constructive dialogue. Focus on the goals and the science and do not get hung up on, for example, who eats or wears what.
So why would SF and a group of recreational anglers not get together with Pew (assuming they would be open to that) and start out the first meeting by asking about some of the perceptions that are out there about Pew (and Pew about those relevant to us)? What would we have to loose or gain? Ask Pew what the logic flow and science were that led to their proposal about reserves. Set up a constructive dialogue that builds on common goals. Report that back to the SF readership. I know, a hopelessly naive thought. OR, we could continue to defer our advocacy to institutions that have their own self-preserving drivers that control (some, many?) of their actions. I thought it informative that the reason Josh never did an interview before with a fishing publication is because no one ever asked him in the past 20 years. Where would we be now if there had been constructive Pew-SF/recreational angler dialogue those past 20 years? Likely a better place than now.
Above is one path forward. Will it work - - who knows, but there is a chance for at least a better understanding and constructive dialogue and aligned action where some of that $8 billion moves in directions we would like to see. The alternative is the current state, and that sure does not seem to be taking us very far.
your thoughtful comments are appreciated --by many, i'm sure. further discussions with mr reichert may be on the horizon. understand there are those (as you can see from others' comments in this thread) who believe ANY conversations of any sort with PEW amount to giving aid and comfort to the enemy; they would (and will) excoriate any editor who does so. perhaps they're right. an alternative viewpoint might be that such conversations MAY lead to opportunities to lessen hostilities and find ways to productively channel energies. in any case, comments like yours suggest that many anglers grasp the fact that these are complex issues; working through them will be a long-term and difficult process.
I respect Flukefish33's suggestion. I'd like to work with Pew if I had any hope that such were potentially beneficial.
Until New Year's, I was a two-term Oregon county commissioner. I was in a three-person board. Oregon law makes county commissioner boards all three branches of government one: legislative (county ordinance), executive (we're the executive equivalent of a governor in county matters) and judicial (we hear and decide cases of alleged violation of certain ordinances, and land use issues in so-called quasi judicial proceedings, in that we're not judge members of the state bar).
As in any judicial proceeding, I had the job of determining if witnesses' testimony was honest, and if their testimony was relevant to the applicable laws.
I was a newspaper reporter before that, another job where determination of honesty is crucial.
With most people (rational people), if you defeat their argument with facts, they propose a different one, or modify their original argument to counter their latest set-back.
Not so with Pew. As I wrote in my initial post, Pew has been dishonest here in Oregon. It manufactured a crisis where none has been shown to exist, and its proposed solution -- extensive no-take marine reserves -- is Pew's non-negotiable solution to the nonproblem.
Yes, we could fight Pew and its billions and lose it all. Or surrendering to Pew's pressure and dishonesty might be the expedient way out. I don't want to be a hero, lose the farm but at least go down with honor. But I see little choice besides the two in put forward in this paragraph.
Since my first post, the Oregon Legislature put forth and adopted a bill that the governor signed designating the first two no-take marine reserves in Oregon in about 40 years. Pew postings indicate that Pew thinks it is a victory, an "important first step." Pew had proposed last fall more than a dozen reserves to the Oregon Ocean Policy Advisory Council, which I was on. The only two to gain approval in law were proposed by community-based groups. Pew lost on all the proposals it put forward, except it did get study-only proposals approved, which are short of marine reserve designations.
However, and I think this is key, the legislature and very pro-marine reserves governor financed the bill with no state general fund money. Instead, they used about $1 million of cash left over from a court settlement regarding salvage of a wrecked ship. In other words, even with pro-environment Democrats having controlling majorities in both chambers of the legislature and a governor presiding over his last legislature, the best the extremists could get was one-time money and only the two marine reserves proposals that were brought by ocean users. There's no "renewable" state income tax-generated financing committed to carry the reserves endeavor forward. Elections change who is in office, naturally. If this is the best they could do, particularly if the political geology changes, it 'aint much.
The legislature inserted language into the bill that if "long-term financing is not being pursued," the newly designated reserves could go away. That leaves the door open to Pew to write a check for several millions, easy for Pew, to keep it going. Plus, there's no definition of what's meant by "pursued." And even so, name one restrictive, area-based designation that's gone away. You won't find it in Wilderness or other protective categories.
One of the reserves study groups is here in Coos Bay. I'm on it. A majority of members stated generally what I feel: No problem has been identified, and no analysis of alternatives to the nonproblem has been conducted. Environmentalists keep saying the science shows that reserves work, by citing either characterizations of science -- instead of science itself -- or carefully-selected citations in journals, typically ecology or conservation biology journals. They ignore journal articles that find that some reserves have no effect. We counter those assertions by asking where did they work? what were the circumstances? worked to achieve what? how's that relevant to here? And we note that more of the fishable ocean off Oregon is now closed than is open to rockfish fishing, that fish move (environmentalists insist that fish understand jurisdictional boundaries and will stay within reserves) and that there's no sense in taking an economic hit when there's not a problem.
We also remind them that Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife raised the daily sport bag of rockfish by one fish the first of May, so things can't be too bad here in the state's three mile-wide territorial sea.
That and no amount of other facts will dissuade environmentalists from insisting that everything's sick, we're the reason, and marine reserves are the only answer. That goes back to my earlier remark that rational people will change their argument when faced with a factual set-back. I saw the Pew-type reactions a lot in news reporting. Extremists would simply ignore a countering fact, pretend you didn't say it or they didn't hear it, and repeat their original premise.
I don't want to indulge any more of SF readers' patience with my post, so I'll conclude by saying the above is only a minor part of why I think Pew is dishonest and cannot be worked with. I can't be wasting much more of the rest of my life skirmishing with extremists who cannot construct an even marginally interesting argument. If Pew wants to begin being reasonable, starting by being honest, I'd be eager to try to work with it.