The Surfcasting Community (Doing Good Stuff)

(This is not meant to be a guilt trip, not directly anyway.)

 What is most interesting to me is that surfcasters, as a whole, tend to have a fairly strong sense of “community.” It’s probably true that this trait helped lure me in in the first place.

 Community? I am talking about the willingness of people to come together, on their own, to share ideas and enthusiasm about the sport, and at times to do something good for others.

 There is no shortage of surfcasting clubs in the Northeast. I once thought the internet chat boards might render the surfcasting club obsolete. But they have continued on. There is clearly an understanding of the limit to what can be shared over the internet, especially if it involves hard-earned local knowledge. Clubs also generally excel in the “social department.” Some dabble in environmental causes (like beach clean-ups) or general philanthropy. A few have gotten involved in general conservation issues, but those surfcasters who feel a strong need to get involved in “bigger picture” issues often have to look beyond. And many do.

 Then you have the local associations and advocacy groups. Most of these organizations (that are of interest to surfcasters) focus on conservation or access. I know, just like the clubs, there can be politics. Access groups can have internal division. There have been classic debates over the years on the pros vs cons of unrestricted walking or 4×4 access to certain areas. Those on the con side argue that the said location is/was environmentally sensitive, or already overly crowded. “Conservation” groups often have their own sorts of dilemmas, often pitting goals to restrict (what are seen as) excessive bag or size limits against those who want to argue for subsistence fishermen and the need to protect jobs in the recreational fishing industry. This core difference in philosophy has splintered a large and powerful force into warring factions. It is n ot unheard of for legislation or other potential good deeds to be killed by “friendly fire,” even before the natural opposition has a chance to load their weapons.

 But as dysfunctional as these groups might sound, these associations are usually the first level where critical mass of influence, and expertise in law and science, can come together, so that a viable campaign can be launched.

 Good things do happen. Money is raised, press releases go out, bills do get passed. People get educated. But even if they gain no ground, if they are able to prevent a loss of access, or prevent additional fish being killed for gluttony or profit’s sake, it’s a job well done.

 (And it was in just one of these associations where I first met Zeno so many years ago. Who da thunk?)

 But many of these locally-focused organizations risk losing “staying power” or “momentum,” due to excessive reliance on volunteer work – huge amounts of time ends up falling into the laps of a very very small concentration of people. I sometimes look at certain newsletters and see the same names. “Still at it!” I marvel, “God bless. What in the world are they ever going to do when [fill in the blank] is gone?”

 This brings us to the larger nationals. These associations (most often geared toward conservation) are generally run with more paid staff, including scientists and lobbyists, as well as experts in fundraising and organization. Key man dependency is reduced, and specific expertise is added, so there is depth on the bench. But quite naturally, the classic complaint with the large national associations is that more money is consumed in “administration,” and there is less money or focus dedicated to local causes. ($25 sounds like a lot for annual dues – until you factor how long it might take to do your own research, and write your own position paper.)

 Which brings us full circle.

 I can still feel proud by saying that surfcasters are probably more involved in “community” stuff than any other type of saltwater fisherman. So even if you don’t do squat, give yourself a round of applause – someone else is doing it for you. 🙂

 Even if the groups mentioned above aren’t for you, there are compelling stories of how individuals have come together in the past, at very specific points in time, to work on just one thing.

 And there is no shortage of “things” to work on.

 Off the top of my head, I’ll start with the alewives on the east end of Long Island. In a few weeks, they begin to work the upper bays to spawn in freshwater outflows. This process is always helped by teams who can clear these streams.

 Then you have the problem of fertilizer run-off into the bays. It boggles the mind that people who live close to the water want lush lawns, but seem to go brain dead when it comes to where they think those chemicals end up. Education or a new enviro bill? Neither would hurt.

 Closely related is the concept of permeable road and driveway surfaces, in and around water ways. Why not let the land close to that water serve as a natural filter?

 I kid you not – Its scientifically proven that people who get involved in this type of stuff come away feeling better for the effort – especially if they feel they personally made a difference. In some cases, this “volunteer stuff” is seen as one of their biggest personal accomplishments.

What other potential projects need to be mentioned here?

5 comments on “The Surfcasting Community (Doing Good Stuff)

  1. Mark Pirani

    “This core difference in philosophy has splintered a large and powerful force into warring factions. It is n ot unheard of for legislation or other potential good deeds to be killed by “friendly fire,” even before the natural opposition has a chance to load their weapons.” I find the surf-casting and fishing community on a whole to be just like every other political issue in this country. A ton of groups/individuals pushing a certain belief or ideal and not wavering in their pursuit of that ideal. Sound minded individuals for what ever reason, no longer are able to sit at a table (chat room forum, skype) what ever people use now a days and come to a compromise. Each party taking away a portion of their request but coming to an agreement that benefits the whole. If we as a use group surf fishermen/ recreational fishermen could come together and agree to disagree on certain points a lot more would get done with a louder voice. In this day and age it is very easy to get people to support a cause by clicking like on a facebook page it is near impossible to get people to put wood to fire at an assembly meeting or legislative hearing.

  2. Robert K.

    the groups and clubs/org. do the best with what they have, and it “at this time” the same faces and voices doing most of the work from what i see. what also amazes me is the amount of $ raised time and time again when a fellow surfcaster is in need! from small threads on the chat boards to fundraisers. The donations that the company’s we all use -tackle/plugs/books/shops/and as well as just fellow surfcasters that just care all put in services or product to be raffled off. And lets not forget the surfcasters that always show up and shell out there $$ to buy these raffles whether it be at the event or online. the friendship amazes me. I thank all who give and who spend for these things.


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