In Tuesday's Gongwer's news service, there was a blurb about a bill introduced by Sen. Bob Spada (R-North Royalton) to appropriate $4 million from the state's general revenue fund to buy out all the remaining commercial fishing licenses in Ohio. His bill is a companion to the bill Rep. Jim McGregor (R-Gahanna) introduced in June.
According to Gongwer's, these bills are a result of an investigation by the ODNR Division of Wildlife Enforcement into fishermen who failed to properly report their catches of yellow perch. Several convictions have already been handed down and there are five more cases pending. The unreported amount stands at 40 tons.
This is the latest in the sqabble between commercial fishermen and charter fishing boat operators. The ODNR denies taking sides in the conflict. Obviously, the commercial fishermen are opposed to the bill, saying it will costs jobs and create a monopoly on perch for Canada. Additionally, a petition from the Ohio Fish Producers Association says that the measures will mean bankruptcy for some license holders.
"Sen. Spada said the recent convictions of several commercial fishermen convinced him of the need for the legislation.
"Based on the court cases, I believe they've been lying, cheating, and stealing fish from the residents of Ohio for profit," he said. "This is a classic case of underreporting income," the former Internal Revenue Service agent added.
Sen. Spada said he researched the issue thoroughly before sponsoring the bill and came to the conclusion that the penalties were too insignificant and the problem was too extensive for other options. "It costs us a lot more to regulate these commercial fishermen than we get in fees from them."
Buying out the commercial fishing industry would also be benefit the travel and tourism industries in Ohio, Sen. Spada added."
When I read this I was astounded. If commercial fishermen have not reported catches properly, then they should be punished. But to eliminate commercial fishing simply because some of the fishermen did something wrong seems a bit of overkill. By the logic of this argument, whenever there is an act of embezzlement in a bank we'd have to eliminate the banking industry.
And the sponsors of these bills are Republicans. I fail to see how the Republican philosophy of "less government interference" is reflected in these actions. Besides, if it costs more to regulate this industry than the government gets in fees, perhaps Sen. Spada should look at REDUCING regulation rather than eliminating a whole industry from our state, especially at a time when Ohio is hurting for jobs.