Environmental Groups

Enviro's “Trick” Voters into “Treating” Their Own

And the plot thickens in Rep. Steve Southerland's Panhandle 2nd District...

As referenced in a previous column for TheOnlineFisherman.com, "Rep. Steve Southerland of Florida's 2nd Congressional District is what we at the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) call a Fishing Champion," an independent voice in Washington who has "stood up for all fishermen along the Gulf of Mexico, recreational and commercial alike, while passionately representing coastal interests in the House Natural Resources Committee."

On October 9th at a rally in Panama City, recreational and commercial fishing groups united in keeping our public resources open and accessible to the American public (including RFA, Panama City Boatmen Association, Big Game Fishing Journal, Capt. Anderson's Marina and the Southern Kingfish Association) presented Southerland with an award for being a 'Fishing Champion.'

Southerland-Snapper

As a saltwater angler himself, Rep. Steve Southerland has actively fought in Congress to support a better balance of commerce and conservation in order to protect both the fish and the fishermen.

In recent billboards popping up around the district however, Rep. Southerland has been wrongly accused by zealots at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) of being an enemy of our oceans. What these groups actually mean to say is that Rep. Southerland is an enemy against their attempt to privatize our coastal resources. The radical environmental groups and their lackeys have spent the past five years trying to steal away vital coastal fish like red snapper and gag grouper from real fishermen to place them into the hands of private investors.

EDF'S Great Pretender

One of the more vocal and deceitful EDF lackeys is Capt. Jim Clements, a commercial fisherman from Carrabelle, FL and a member of the EDF-funded Gulf Fishermen's Association. In billboards purchased in Panama City, Apalachicola, Crawfordville, and Tallahassee attempting to discredit Rep. Southerland as being an "enemy of the ocean," Clements has already admitted to spending $7,500 under the alias of Captain Jim's Charters, Inc with a website of www.captainjimscharters.com.

The problem of course is that Clements is not a charter boat fisherman. According to state and federal records, while Clements submits an annual for profit corporate report as a charter business operating as Captain Jim's Charters in the state of Florida, Clements himself has no state or federal permits required to operate a charter recreational fishing business in the state. Clements doesn't have any permits to run a charter, and only recently did he create a website, one of the most critical items in running a successful charter operation in the 21st century as any real charter captain will tell you. The web domain and hosting itself has been managed by Tyler Media Group which secured the domain and built the website after September 27th.

Now, if you're looking for a charter trip in the Panhandle, Clements' website will be of no help. It simply links out to environmental lobbyist websites including Oceans Champions of California and the National Resource Defense Council of Philadelphia. Recent calls to Tyler Media asking to contact Capt. Jim to schedule a sportfishing charter were rebuffed, with Tyler noting that the captain is away on vacation and not able to be reached.

Steve-Southerland-Political-Ad

Real fishermen from the Keep Fishermen Fishing coalition (which hosted a national rally for fishing reform in March in DC) are combatting the phony, EDF-supported fishing ads in Florida's 2nd Congressional district with messages of their own praising Rep. Southerland's honesty, integrity, trust and purpose.

The commercial fishermen turned EDF activist turned recreational charter captain (one without the required permits) has been actively denigrating recreational anglers for years in the News Herald of Panama City. In 2008 for example, Clements openly promoted the individual fishing quota (IFQ) plan of resource ownership in an online publication, saying "There are some in the recreational sector who are attempting to derail our progress toward reducing overcapacity." Reducing overcapacity is another way of saying 'reducing fishing participation' which is what the catch share scheme would essentially do.

Of our recreational fishermen, Clements calls us "misguided" and "resentful" while presenting us with a direct message, "to the recreational sector, I say get your own house in order before you come over to ours." Given the fact that recreational and commercial fishermen share allocation of vitally food-fisheries like red snapper and gag grouper, most everyone in either industry realizes that we are all forced to live under the same roof anyway.

"Beware of anyone who is not a commercial fisherman who tries to influence your vote," Clements noted, while failing to describe his own manipulation of the public perception by pretending himself to be a recreational charter captain.

In another recent anti-angler blast, Clements again turned to the News Herald of Panama City to criticize those of us in the recreational fishing community who stand opposed to private resource allocation and sector separation schemes pushed through EDF, charging us with "misleading the public" According to Clements' agenda-driven rhetoric, the federal government and private entities are not pushing for catch shares in the recreational community, and again calls anglers 'liars' for fighting both the sector separation and IFQ program for red snapper.

NOAA'S Catch Share Plan for Anglers

For those who care to read the NOAA Catch Share Policy as Clements suggests, just type "NOAA Catch Shares Recreational" into your favorite Internet search engine to read more about the new federal policy. The other side of the story is quoted word-for-word below and comes directly from that policy document.

While NOAA itself "does not advocate the use of individual private angler catch shares," the government agency in its very next breath adds the caveat, "however, NOAA will support Councils in the identification and application of innovative management measures that both promote individual angler fishing access and foster sustainable fisheries."

As further described, such "management measures" could very well include individual fish tags, which NOAA explains "there are a few examples where a limited number of tags for individual fish have been allocated to anglers on a per capita or lottery basis. Historically these tagging programs have been used where the resources were limited and a strict constraint on landings was required. NOAA will continue to work with Councils who have expressed interest in adopting such tag programs."

In other words, while NOAA has distanced itself from actually supporting individual catch shares for anglers, the government agency has in fact approved policy which would support Councils who vote to incorporate individual fishing quotas through a fish tag program allocated to the general public via lottery or auction. Considering that NOAA and the Secretary of Commerce get the ultimate say in who gets appointed to sit on these Councils, individual private anglers are thankful to have elected officials like Rep. Steve Southerland fighting to protect our individual rights against appointees directing policy.

Paul B Durham 22lb snapper

RFA member Paul Durham of Georgia proudly shows off a 22-pound snapper caught in the South Atlantic, where the red snapper season has only been open a handful of days during the past 2 years, a mind-boggling fact considering the importance of red snapper to the recreational fishing community.

That runs counter to Clements' publicized comments that "catch shares are strictly for the commercial fishery," or that catch shares "should not be used in the recreational sector, and no one is advocating that." The actual NOAA Catch Share Policy created with the help of EDF clearly states, "NOAA supports the design and development of catch share programs for the recreational charter and head boat sector as appropriate." Those who understand what the recreational fishing industry is all about - particularly local businesses who rely on open access fishing opportunities in the charter and head boat fishery - can clearly see this for what it is.

By allowing Councils to divide our recreational sector into two or more very distinct and different components, (A) the charter and for hire sector and (B) private anglers, NOAA Fisheries is essentially supporting the redistribution of stock allocation through personal ownership of the resource. Once the recreational fishing community is divided into 'professional' and 'private' sectors, angler access will diminish even further as the resource is privatized into the hands of a few. (This of course is why groups like the RFA are supporting Governor Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election, in part to overturn the current NOAA administration hand-selected by President Obama to run roughshod over our sector starting in early 2009. Mission accomplished Mr. President!)

In the first paragraph of NOAA's Catch Share Policy as it pertains specifically to "recreational anglers," the government has determined on its own that "successful recreational angling experience is not as dependent on harvest," explaining how "many anglers participate on the expectation of a catch and continue to fish without realizing a positive catch on every trip, and some anglers release the fish they do catch." Whatever think tank or vision quest that this theory came from – the concept that anglers don't really care whether we have a red snapper to take home for dinner so long as we're out on the water – is proof in point that the NOAA Catch Share Policy is a flawed document.

The Enviro's Congressional Campaign

Local Gulf fishermen in the Panama City region of course don't have to be told about the effort by outside interests to buy off the election there; the attempted takeover of Gulf fisheries has been underway for some time, led by the efforts of radical anti-angler organizations like EDF and their EDF Action Fund. As spotlighted in earlier pieces here at the OnlineFisherman.com, EDF and the EDF Action Fund have invested more than $750,000 in just the past 3 years on establishing their own fishing organizations like the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders Alliance, Gulf Fishermen's Association and South Atlantic Fishermen's Association in an effort to fool the public (and those who serve the public) into thinking that their way of managing fisheries was in the public interests.

The Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders Alliance in turn doled out $48,000 in the 2011 calendar year to help create a new organization called the Charter Fishermen's Association; the fact that EDF would fund a fishing organization based on ownership of commercial fish shares, which in turn would create its own recreational fishing organization, has sent up red flags throughout the state of Florida.

It has since been revealed that the Director of the Charter Fishermen's Association, failed tech stock investor Michael Miglini, also takes a $40,000 salary from the organization, while he's also become one of the biggest owners and resellers of red snapper stock in the Gulf of Mexico. According to some commercial fishing representatives, Miglini and his companies are "essentially the people with red snapper allocation. If you would like to go catch and sell red snapper from the Gulf you call them, everyone does."

Party Boat

Some smalltime commercial captains masquerading as charter and headboat captains are trying to influence the outcome of the 2nd congressional district outcome to the detriment of for hire captains in the Gulf and the individual anglers who fish the party boat rails.

According to private emails associated with a potential inspector general's review of the Gulf fisheries issues surrounding sector separation plans and EDF's financing of various pseudo fishing organizations, one commercial fisherman described Miglini's business entity, Great Sage, Inc, as "a private company whose primary function is leasing red snapper to the Gulf's fishermen. I have heard they own hundreds of thousands of shares."

As Capt. Tom Hilton puts it, "Miglini is in actuality a commercial fish broker masquerading as a recreational charter captain representing, as a Board Member, a 'recreational charter fisherman's association' that is in reality an extension of an extreme anti-fishing environmental corporation that wants to privatize our public trust resource - our fish."

It has been pointed out by some members of both the recreational and commercial fishing community that Miglini's own comments before the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council in October of 2011 may have broken federal law in terms of full disclosure and honesty. In testifying on record before the Gulf council, Miglini, speaking on behalf of the Charter Fishermen's Association, said his organization "was formed by a group of captains who each wrote a check out of their own personal or charter business accounts and pooled our resources to get organized and engage more effectively in this council process."

The actual IRS forms for the Charter Fishermen's Association indicate that $48,000 was given by the Gulf of Mexico Reef Shareholders Alliance, an EDF shell group of IFQ owners and investors, specifically to create the upstart organization.

United Share Croppers' Attack on Fishermen

Miglini and Clements are on a tear in the Gulf of Mexico to defame and discredit anyone who would dare stand in their way of taking full ownership of the fish stocks for their own purposes. They have the full backing of environmental organizations based in New York City, Philadelphia and Southern California in working to corrupt the political system, and their goal of course is to remove any legislative champion for open public access to a natural public resource.

Needless to say, the recreational fishing community, including individual anglers, for-hire captains, bait and tackle store owners, boat dealers and the thousands of businesses which rely on open access fishing opportunities, Congressman Steve Southerland has been our 'fishing champion' for cutting through the bureaucratic rhetoric in order to see both sides of the story, and for helping stop this hostile corporate takeover of our natural public resources.

Major Alan Lamarche, who many anglers know from his work as Assistant Chief of Law Enforcement for the Florida Game and Fish Commission, probably said it best in his letter to The Times of Apalachicola and Carrabelle, saying "Representative Steve Southerland is a sport fisherman and he is the best friend every fishermen has ever had in Congress. Capt. Jim Clements is a commercial fisherman who doesn't like sharing the Gulf fisheries with us Sports."

"The fact that PETA and 'Ocean Lovers' and other 'Preservationist' organizations with 'feel good names' give our congressman a bad report card makes Representative Southerland deserving of a Blue Ribbon in my book," Major Lamarche added.

Mine too Major! A blue ribbon and a framed certificate honoring Steve Southerland as a Fishing Champion!

Soon enough, the Halloween hi-jinks with sharecroppers masquerading as fishermen and radical environmental groups 'tricking and treating' their way through the Panhandle will be over, and for fishermen's sake, let's hope Rep. Southerland gets the vote again and continues to champion the cause of Florida anglers everywhere!

Join RFA today, and together let's fight for your right to fish!

Florida senators attempt to stop park closures


Nelson, Rubio join chorus of concerns over No-Fishing Zones in Biscayne National Park

WASHINGTON, DC – In a letter to U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Florida’s bi-partisan U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio urge the National Park Service to reconsider the proposed General Management Plan (GMP) for Biscayne National Park and to work cooperatively with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to maintain public access for anglers and boaters. The National Park Service signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the FWC in 2007 that specifically stated they would provide for recreational and commercial fishing opportunities for the angling public by seeking the least restrictive management actions necessary.

“But the measures proposed in the National Park Service plan represent the most extreme tools available for making fishery management modifications in Biscayne National Park, ignoring alternative ways to achieve the desired resource improvements without sacrificing the public’s ability to access and enjoy the park,” the letter to Sec. Salazar from U.S. Sens. Nelson and Rubio states. 

The recently released GMP for Biscayne National Park includes a preferred alternative that would close roughly 10,500 acres of the Park's most popular and productive shallow water reefs to recreational fishing, boating and other activities by designating these waters as a marine reserve. The most extreme alternative would close twice that much area.

On April 27, Karl Crook, a member of CCA Florida’s Dade County Chapter and owner of Crook & Crook Bait and Tackle, testified before the House Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands in a hearing entitled, “Access Denied: Turning Away Visitors to National Parks.” 

“Biscayne National Park is a regional treasure. It deserves the proper attention and controlled use to sustain and protect the natural beauty and resources contained within the Park,” Crook said. “Anglers are willing to make sacrifices for the betterment of the resource, as long as they are confident that these sacrifices are based on strong science and a true desire to improve the health of the fisheries we enjoy. However, the closures being proposed in Biscayne National Park are not based on solid fisheries management and seem to place undue blame for any and all problems in the park on anglers and boaters.” 

At the same hearing, Kenneth W. Wright, vice chairman of the Florida FWC, outlined his agency’s concerns over the development of the new General Management Plan for the Park. 

“The new GMP proposes alternatives for management of the Park for the next 20 or more years,” he said. “The FWC has significant concerns with the management actions that are proposed in the GMP by the NPS, but are hopeful and guardedly optimistic that these concerns can be resolved through further coordination with the National Park Service.”

A coalition of boating and angling groups, including Coastal Conservation Association, the American Sportfishing Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, the Center for Coastal Conservation and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, has worked to find a reasonable compromise that will protect the Park’s marine resources, but not disconnect the Park from millions of America’s citizens.

“We are grateful that Senator Nelson and Senator Rubio are engaged on this effort and are seeking to have the National Park Service work cooperatively with the Florida FWC to maintain access in the park,” said Center for Coastal Conservation President Jeff Angers. “Conservationists across the country applaud them for standing up as stewards of our fisheries resources and our coastal communities.”

Click HERE to see a copy of the letter from U.S. Sens. Nelson and Rubio, HERE for a copy of Karl Crook’s testimony or HERE for Ken Wright’s testimony.
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What are Catch Shares?

Catch shares are simple to understand, but before I tell you exactly what "catch shares" are, realize that the environmental movement is now more than 20 years old. The radical people among this movement feel that mankind -- in its rush for gold, oil and iPads -- is destroying the earth. It has gotten to the point where the United Nations recognizes mother earth as a being, with every right granted to the humans that live on her skin. Look; I am as kind to the environment as anybody I know. In fact, it's the anglers, hunters and outdoors people I know that are the true conservationists, not the people whose idea of the great outdoors is a channel on cable tvcalled the Animal Planet. The earth is our home. We need to keep it clean, but we are the dominant species. We do not belong controlled and wrapped in little dream cities. We belong outside benefiting from tribal politics. We protect our own. It's human nature, not dirt and rocks with human legal rights. There is no fairness except that provided by the law. But the law is not controlling our fisheries; regulations that are written by people who think we are less than intelligent for wanting to kill poor little fish are controlling our fisheries, and our sport. Why in science's name (their form of God) would a civilized person rip those innocent creatures from their homes and EAT THEM?????

Today we cannot catch gag and red grouper. American red snapper are so abundant that they are driving grouper off their natural reefs. It's little wonder the gag and red grouper counts are down. Goliath grouper eat ten percent of their weight a week. A four-hundred pound grouper eats forty pounds of gags and reds for lunch, but they are protected.

Regulations and the environmental left are, and have been, completely out of control. They do not fish, but regulate our fisheries. They believe in their form of science and silence other voices. They are destroying our angling way of life. You want proof? Ask the mayor of Madeira Beach, Florida, Travis Palladeno, as he watches his business and life fade away. Regulated away. Madeira Beach was the sports grouper-fishing capital of the world. Now they are dry docked.

Understanding Cap & Trade for Grouper

Here is our definition of catch shares. Catch shares are a set of regulations where the government and their globally-warmed scientists count the fish. Since they do not go on the water, they use computer models. Right now the computers tell them that the recreational angling community is killing all the grouper, so using what is called precautionary science, they shut us down. The grouper are there, but the computer models do not see them.

Once they count the fish, they, in their infinite wisdom, distribute them, or we should say redistribute them. Some go to the commercial guys, some to charter captains and head boats, and some to us regular Joe's with boats bought with money WE earned. We're the taxpayers who support the recreational fishing industry in all it's forms and reach. In Florida, that is $50 billion a year according to statistics.

fish catch share

Here is a question: what in God's name gives people who do not fish, scientists who are part of a collective "consensus" (that not all scientists hold sacred), the right to tell us what, when, and where to use our skills and chase our passions? We are a nation of laws - or at least we're supposed to be.

As recreational anglers, we have the rights to fish for whatever we want to. There is only ONE law on the books concerning fisherman, and it's written by PEW environmentalists. It's focused largely on commercial fishing, but it's destined to bring those fishing-haters (and that is exactly what they are) right into our marinas, our tackle shops, and onto our fishing grounds. It is that law that will quickly change your way of life. We see it with the red snapper moratorium; red and gag grouper cannot be kept now and the hammer is coming down on every aspect of our sport. Make no mistake fellow anglers, if we do not take the regulators seriously, and get them moving out of our sport, our sport is dead on the water that we love and cherish. The people who feel - and say publicly - that we are not capable of managing ourselves - want to count fish, and manage their distribution. Catch Shares, the brain child of global socialists "managing the Bering Sea" -- will allocate and distribute our fish. Our fish, that were -- prior to this insanity -- a natural and free resource. Let them put Catch Shares in place, and you have to pay somebody for the right to catch fish. Think of that one, ladies and gentleman; you will have to pay for the right to go fishing. First, pay for the license, which is fine and dandy, but then the individual fishing quota, good for that day and no longer. One grouper, one red snapper, and believe me, eventually one speckled sea trout and one redfish at a time per day.

Sector Separation: Part of the Globalist Recipe

To make this all work, the intellectuals behind the concept of sharing the fish that are caught need to count the fish. In the Magnuson/Stevens act, the fishing industry was split into two parts. One category (or sector) are commercial anglers; people who fish for a living and sell their catch to fish markets, restaurants, and other sources for people to eat, that our animals eat, and the fish that are ground up so our plants can eat them. They all fall into the commercial sector. The next sector is the recreational sector. That's us.

How do you divide a group of anglers? You split them into tighter sectors. Where there were two sectors -- one for recreational anglers and one for commercial anglers -- there are now to be three. Although it's claimed that Sector Separation has nothing to do with Catch Shares (the turning of a public resource into something you have to buy "permission tickets" for from Walmart!), it clearly does. Sector separation says that there are three sectors. One the commercial guys, one us, and one "for-hire" people. That includes all the Charter Captains and Head Boat owners, like local Mark Hubbard. Hubbard's business and that of many for-hire captains have been decimated by the grouper and American red snapper moratoriums. The fish are not endangered. To the contrary. They're thick on the reefs and structure. But turning them off forces the captains to support whatever legislation that will let them get on the water for as short a time as they might be allowed. They're desperate.

The divide and conquer strategy is simple to understand. Split the market into three sectors, give the commercial guys first dibs, the guides, second, and leave whatever is left over for us recreational fishermen to catch...and release, if the enviros get their way.

Walton (Walmart) putting fishermen on dry dock

While shutting down half of our national fleet with over-regulation, Walmart has been gobbling up the paperwork - called Individual Fishing Quotas- that will let them populate all the boats that all those independent fishing families lost as a result of the overwhelming number of new "environmental" regulations. They have given millions from their "foundation" to the people regulating us off the water. SO, it is going to be at Walmart you will have to go to buy your government-permission ticket before going out to catch those (now safe) grouper. If you buy a ticket and you don't catch any that day, or the weather stops you before you reach your fishy spot? Too bad. Next time you go, you will have to buy a new permission ticket at Walmart. And if you think there won't be flounder and redfish tickets at the same place in the same aisle soon after the grouper tickets, you're wrong. Let a camel into the tent, and their nose makes room for their humps.

Hold your nose and follow the money

One more thing on catch shares. There is only one protein food source you cannot yet buy on the Chicago Mercantile, where the values are determined for the future prices of the world's commodities. You can bet on the future price of everything from pig bellies to cows to natural gas. But there is one thing you cannot bet on. One thing still a public resource. Fish.

Think about it. The argument that catch shares are "an effective tool in the hand of scientists and other government officials responsible for managing our fisheries" nonsense. What it is is a thinly veiled strategy to move money and power. Catch shares can be made to sound perfectly sensible. Until you smell the stink of corruption. Some $70 million in money is being moved around between tax-exempt organizations, and the threat to our freedom is obvious. If you want something on the Mercantile, you have to first allocate it. Who better than people who think that having goldfish as pets should be illegal? Do not laugh. Check city law in San Francisco, California. Give it some time and you will be paying for those goldfish police.

Catch shares have drawn millions of dollars in support from groups like Walton (Walmart), Tyson foods, PEW, EDF and George Soros' Tides Foundation (among a dozen other like-minded and globally-sympathetic nongovernmental organizations. Why not follow the money? If we follow the money, we might find the truth. Is mankind killing the fish, or are they just another collection of victims? Causes needs a collection of victims.

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NOAA Paying Recreational Anglers to Not Fish; What Could Be Wrong With That?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is at it again.

This time, it is paying saltwater recreational anglers in Massachusetts to not fish.

What could be sinister about that? If this were any other time and NOAA wasn't an agency bought and paid for by the preservationist wing of the environmental movement, maybe nothing would be sinister about it.

But under the Obama administration, a National Ocean Council now is going to decide where we can and can't fish. NOAA wants to implement Catch Shares, a scheme for limiting access by privatizing a public resource. This same agency is wielding the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act like a club, shutting down fisheries along the Atlantic and the Gulf.

no-fishing

So . . . do you think that something nefarious might be going on here?

I do.

So does one Massachusetts angler who received a $500 check to not fish, but has not yet cashed it.

"I have mixed feelings about the whole thing," Pat Judge told the Boston Globe. "I imagine if you were in tough economic straits you would take the money.

"It's not enough for me. It raised ethical questions on whether it's right for the government to be spending money to keep you from doing your hobby."

Meanwhile, government officials say their intent is not to reduce sport fishing, but to measure its worth among anglers. They argue that the results could be used in a variety of ways, including calculating the loss to anglers if an oil spill or some other environmental disaster forced a halt in marine recreational fishing.

Certainly the preservationist bureaucrats in NOAA wouldn't dream of using this information to manufacture another reason to justify limiting access to public fisheries? Would they? Of course not.

But keep this in mind: This "survey" is being conducted by an agency that clearly has an anti-fishing agenda based on an ideology instead of science, and it is part of an administration that fervently believes in Big Government controlling our lives and limiting our freedoms.

Read the Boston Globe's story here.

Tougher rules hit fishermen, industry hard

From: The Associated Press

MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. —  Travis Palladeno, a veteran charter fishing captain on Florida's Gulf Coast, flips through his appointment book and bemoans the blank pages. Restrictions on some of the most popular and tasty sport fish are so strict right now, fewer people want to go out.

The limits on such sought-after fish as grouper, red snapper and black sea bass are in place as scientists try to figure out how to restore species they say have been overfished for decades. Charter operators and recreational anglers say the rules are unreasonable and diminish an industry already dinged by higher gas prices, last year's BP oil spill and the recession.

"Three years ago, things were rolling along so well that I was looking at spending $350,000 to have another boat built because my business was great," said Palladeno, who estimated bookings for his 45-foot vessel have been cut in half over the last year. "That phone used to ring constantly, and it doesn't anymore."

 

Read more HERE

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