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NFC: Answering R.J.'s questions and asking some more of my own

R.J. Rogers said:
> Maybe you can help me. I've searched NFC's website but can find nothing on
> conservation programs other than exotics removal which is happening only
> Florida on a very limited scale by a handful of people.

Interesting thing, the ERP.  No doubt, it is a useful program, but sadly a
futile one (the exotics are, after all, entrenched).  Best I can figure, it
has potential to be self sufficient or even profitable through sale of
captured exotics, though I know of no accessible figures that the members
can get at to see which direction the money is flowing with regards to the
Florida ERP.  I personally would be interested in having any officer of the
NFC post a financial report to the members to see where the money is going
(and how much is coming in, at that).

> I've been lurking
> this list for awhile and almost all you ever talk about is aquariums and
> catching fish to put in them, and selling fish and aquarium supplies in
> auctions.

The NFC is still a very young organization.  Right now, with limited
resources available and even more limited volunteers, I don't think a lot of
people are willing to step forward and take leadership positions.  Many
people, including myself, have offered in the past to get more active
locally but not in a leadership capacity.  Between my career, my ministry,
and my growing family I don't want the responsibility right now of leading a
local activist group.  BUT I would be willing to work for & with such a
group if it existed.  I get the vibe that this may be the case for a large
portion of our members.

Also, I think a large portion of our members are simply aquarists and have
no interest in doing more than collecting & keeping natives.  It's not a
knock against them, but an observation that our organization includes people
with many different interests.

> Rice himself said that members were abusing the NFC just to get
> fish which goes to show where there true interests lie. There is no talk
> habitat restoration, captive breeding of endangered species, reducing
> pollution, dam removal, etc.

Well there is a breeders club but for all I can tell it never got off the
ground.  I bought a bunch of fish in an auction early this year and donated
that box to the breeders program.  I never heard back from them if the fish
even shipped (but my check was cashed!) which left a bad taste in my mouth.
They may be doing something, I don't know, but if they are it is a secret!

I don't think the NFC will ever be unified on the political front.  This
list has errupted into debate in the past over such issues and our members
have many different ideas on the right approach to environmental issues.  If
the NFC took up the mantle of trying to lobby legislators, I think the
membership would drop off sharply.

> The Adopt-a-Tank program is nice but isn't that
> just a program for Marineland to get more kids hooked on the aquarium

No.  The AAT program predates Marineland's involvement with the NFC.  Prior
to Marineland, membership $$$ were going towards equipping tanks.

However, this has also been a disappointment.  For all of the $$ that has
gone out (how much, I don't know) we have seen almost nothing in return.  No
articles, web pages, etc.  There were some web pages up before but I think
several went down or fell out of maintenance.  I don't know how many kits
Marineland has kicked in, but still the flow of $$$ seems to be an empty
hole from which we harvest nothing.

See a pattern?  Money, supplies, livestock, and effort flows like a river
here, with nothing coming back to tell us what happened.  You and I as
members send in our annual dues.  We get newsletters a few times a year that
are put out by a couple of people who could probably use a lot more help to
build more content.  We get to see money thrown back into the NFC from all
of these auctions, associate programs on the web site, and other sources.
We hear of or see evidence of money flowing from the membership coffers into
other projects, like AAT and maybe to a lesser extent the breeders program.
But what ever comes back upstream?

What I would like to ask for here is accountability.

If a member sends $$ to the NFC in the form of membership dues, the members
should have the courtesy of quarterly financial reports to show what's
coming in and where it is going out.  If the NFC sends those membership $$
to the Breeders Program, the Breeders Program should kick back reports to
the membership of what is being done with this R&D money.   AAT participants
should send in semi-annual reports on their efforts.  I think any teacher
involved in AAT should require their students to each write an article about
a subject directly linked to what they learned through AAT, and those
articles should be submitted to the NFC.  It's all about accountability.
Give the membership warm fuzzies that all this $$$ going into things is
having a positive impact.

Going to the Breeders Program page (not picking on anyone, but just using an
example) I observe a few things:

* Participants are supposed to write up life histories and submit them to
the articles database.  I see a lot of Robert Rice articles, and a few
others, but not anywhere near what I would expect to see from a BP that is
getting free $$, free fish, and possibly free fish gear.
* The BP is supposed to somehow be involved with auctions.  I haven't been
watching too closely so I may have missed a couple here and there, but I
think the fishes we're seeing in the auctions are all wild caught, no?  Or
at least the vast majority of them are.  Where are the BP spawned fish?
Also, what happens when people like me donate boxes of fish to the BP?
Where did they go?  Who got them?  Have they had any success?  I don't even
know if the guy I bought them from shipped to anyone (emails enquiring about
this went unanswered).  In any case, the BP is either recieving $$ from the
auctions or free fish.  What is being done with this?
* I see a banner ad on this page for "Jonah's".  How much $$$ has the NFC
gotten from this relationship, and where did it go?

> NANFA may be a hobbyist group but looking at info on the NANFA page I see
> that they are spending money on research and conservation type programs.

To be fair, they are much larger and older.  Though I do have to wonder why
the NFC can't do more.

But back when I was checking out both clubs, some of the officers of NANFA
were being pretty juvenile about one of NFC's officers over some old feud
between them, and trying to slam the NFC to keep me from joining.  I went to
the NFC chat room and asked some questions about NANFA and the response I
got was much more mature and professional.  There is clearly some bad blood
between the officers, but one group seems to handle it with maturity while
the other was not.

> Why do you need the NFC (or even NANFA, for that matter) to clean up a
> or teach kids about fish?

You don't.

BUT, if we had our act together as a club, we could do these things more
effectively by pooling resources.  How?  Well if the NFC had videos, canned
powerpoint presentations, etc. that would give us an edge on teaching kids
about fish or getting up in front of any group.  If we had $$$ available to
help local efforts, a dumpster could be rented to deposit all of the trash
removed from a stretch of river (I surely won't be putting those old tires
in the back of my Mustang to take them to the dump!)   The pooled $$ could,
if used properly, give us an edge that individuals couldn't hope to have on
their own without considerable out-of-pocket expenditure.  My contention is,
though, that the NFC is not currently allocating funds effectively.  Or, if
they are, it is not being adequately communicated back to you & I as

> Arent there local watershed groups you can join
> that are much better prepared to be active and effective on a local level?

Not that have any sort of focus on non game native fishes.  These guys often
have no bones about stocking trout, for example, in a river where they don't
naturally occur.  Or they are more concerned with focusing on pollution or
encroachment on riparian zones.  There is an overlapping area of interest,
certainly, but I'm not ready to spend my weekends trying to save native
birds (which is something a more generalize local group might be engaged
in).  Not that I think we don't need those birds, but they aren't a personal
interest of mine.

> Sorry to be sounding so negative here because I like the NFC's mission and
> goals but I'm just failing to see how they are backing it up with actual
> programs that are getting results. If I'm missing something please tell me
> or show me. Thanks.

Randy, I feel your frustration.  In the past I have put ideas out for ways
to make use of this $$ coming in to either fix problems or increase our
visibility and thus our membership.  They were booed down.  Maybe they were
bad ideas.  But I didn't see any better ones come out.  Or worse ones even.
Nothing.  Dead air.  But I sent in my membership anyway.  I subscribed to
the Breeders Program e-zine and have yet to hear anything.  Our officers are
relatively silent.  I'd personally like the officers to take a moment to
post some figures for us on where money is coming in, how much, and where it
is going.

I know that also we were trying to hire a grant writer some time ago, and
there was a bit of fanfare about this, but to my knowledge that position was
never filled and I don't know if the NFC pursued it any further.

I know this has come up before, but does anyone here remember electing any
of the officers.  I *think* I've been a member for three years now and
haven't yet participated in an election.  I know they are spaced out WIDELY
according to our articles of incorporation.  I'd like to recommend that
these terms be shortened to lengths of 1 year, as many other clubs do.  This
gives the sitting officers an incentive to make their mark on the club, and
gives opportunities for "fresh blood" to take a different approach once a

Also, I would like to propose that our club incorporate ACCOUNTABILITY at
all areas where resources flow in or out of the general membership coffers,
even if the flow is within the club itself.  Notice I say "resources" and
not "money".  I am intentionally wording it that way to include equipment,
fish, etc.

Pastor Chris

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