On August 17, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) Fisheries Program Director Chris Horton served as a panelist on the Sportfishing Policy Roundtable in Soldotna, Alaska, hosted by the Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) and Yamaha in conjunction with the annual Kenai Classic. U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan joined the Roundtable which focused on alternative federal fisheries management ideas, including changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, voluntary commercial quota buyback programs, and greater state management authority over saltwater sportfish species, among others.
Joining Horton at the Roundtable were KRSA Executive Director Ricky Gease, North Pacific Fisheries Management Council member Andy Mezirow, Center for Coastal Conservation (CCC) President Jeff Angers, Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) West Coast Regional Director Jim Martin, and American Sportfishing Association (ASA) President/CEO Mike Nussman, who served as the moderator for the panel.
Horton’s discussion focused on alternative management options recently identified through a series of workshops organized by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation partnership (TRCP) and ASA, some of which were based on lessons learned from fisheries management in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic seaboard. Horton spoke to the need to manage saltwater species according to a harvest rate rather than total poundage, which is much more similar to how inland fisheries managers have successfully managed recreational fisheries for decades. Other management options Horton outlined included managing on a spatial (area) rather than a temporal (season) scale, better recreational harvest data collection methods, recruitment-based management and release mortality reduction devices as a way to increase annual harvestable quota.
Following the Roundtable discussion, Senators Murkowski and Sullivan directed questions at panel members, providing the opportunity to discuss potential policy solutions for federal fisheries management issues. Senator Murkowski also noted her hope that a comprehensive sportsmen’s package would be included in the final energy bill that will be the subject of a conference committee starting in September.. Both the Senators and panelists also fielded questions from audience members, providing the opportunity for a greater contextual understanding of some of the items brought up during the panel discussion.
Click here for a highlight video from Yamaha on the Roundtable discussion.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?