RFA says Wal-Mart supports anti-fishing groups

NEW GRETNA, N.J. — The Recreational Fishing Association has released statement asserting that Wal-Mart has funded groups that harm the recreational and commercial fishing industry.

According to the statement, an Aug. 16 news release from Wal-Mart corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., the Walton Family Foundation announced investments totaling more than $71.8 million awarded to various environmental initiatives in 2010, with more than $36 million handed over to Marine Conservation grantees including Ocean Conservancy, Conservation International Foundation, Marine Stewardship Council, World Wildlife Fund and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

According to the release, the Walton Family Foundation “focuses on globally important marine areas and works with grantees and other partners to create networks of effectively managed protected areas that conserve key biological features, and ensure the sustainable utilization of marine resources – especially fisheries – in a way that benefits both nature and people.”

The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) countered that these specially managed areas of coastal waters are also referred to as marine protected areas or marine reserves, and the end result is denied angler access.

“A quick visit to the Ocean Conservancy website should be telling enough for anglers interested in learning where Wal-Mart’s profits are being spent,” said RFA executive director Jim Donofrio. “These folks are pushing hard to complete California’s network of exclusionary zones throughout the entire length of coastline, and they’ve made it very clear that they would like to see the West Coast version of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) extended into other coastal U.S. waters.”

“I hope all RFA members across the country will remember that when it’s time to gear up, but I would also wonder if perhaps our industry can help spread the message and support our local tackle shops by also pulling product off Wal-Mart’s shelves,” he said.

In April, RFA announced its support of a national boycott of the Safeway Supermarket chain because of that corporation’s support for California’s MLPA initiative.

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