Digest — January 2004
By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
To Fish or Not to Fish
2: The strong feelings
being voiced by Long Island’s angling community have made this bill
a contentious issue.
The most outspoken man on the topic locally has been Long Islander Rich Johnson, who hosts “The Fishing Line,” a regional radio and TV show. Johnson told me, “It [the legislation] is the government stepping in and trying to be common sense for the common man.” He added, “In the end, it’s the captain and only the captain who makes the call and is responsible for his vessel and crew. That’s why he’s the captain.”
However, some readers did express approval of the bill.
“While I would have voted no a number of years ago, I must concur with Nassau County,” wrote one reader who wished to remain anonymous. “During Small Craft Warnings, tournaments should be postponed; this eliminates ego overcoming common sense and would probably save lives over bruised egos. And let’s face it: Most tournament owners have egos as large as their battlewagons!”
“When idiots don’t know enough to stay home, the tournaments should be cancelled. Why take the risk of sending our Coast Guard out and risk their lives when an emergency could have been avoided entirely?” asked reader Robert Rawa.
“Yes [tournaments should be cancelled]. Some people don’t have enough [sense] about themselves to keep an eye on the weather and come in out of a bad blow,” added Bernard Wyche.
The strong feelings being voiced by Long Island’s angling community have made this bill a contentious issue. At presstime a committee had been formed to review its content to ensure the wording was correct before it was to be voted on. The legislature has asked Johnson, a prominent member of the local media and angling community, to be part of the committee.
While these deaths are tragic, I don’t think legislation is the solution. These men were all experienced, but made a fatally bad call. What fueled their decision? Perhaps seeing that many boats were staying tied to the dock, they thought their odds of winning would be substantially increased. Who knows? However, while one captain and crew made a poor decision, many more made the right call. And it’s that majority that would be affected by this bill.
Maybe the offshore angler needs to practice even more due diligence these days so an elected official doesn’t have to make the call from a landlocked office. I know that the Hudson Anglers required EPIRBs be carried on all boats entered for its 2003 tournament, and that’s a step in the right direction. But the next time you’re entered in a fishing tournament of any type and the weather is questionable, ask yourself, “If this wasn’t a tournament, would I take my boat and crew out?” If the answer is no, don’t go. There’s always another day, tournament or not.
This article originally appeared in the December 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.