On March 26, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) was joined by eight members of the bipartisan Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC), congressional staff, members of the CSF Board of Directors and representatives of the recreational fishing community for a breakfast briefing on Capitol Hill. The briefing focused on saltwater recreational fishing’s future and included an array of speakers on hand to discuss a vision for saltwater fisheries management.
CSF President Jeff Crane welcomed the CSC Co-Chairs in attendance and set the stage for the various speakers to lead the discussion. “As reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act ramps up, it’s imperative that America’s 11 million saltwater recreational anglers receive equal priority and consideration when establishing policies governing our nation’s marine fisheries resources,” Crane stated.
The morning’s speakers included Bass Pro Shops Founder Johnny Morris and Maverick Boat Company, Inc. President Scott Deal, Co-Chairmen of the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management. Morris and Deal presented “A Vision For Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries,” which identifies the necessary framework for a marine fisheries management system that addresses the needs of anglers and the industry, while enhancing the full-range of economic, social and conservation benefits recreational fishing provides to the nation.
Deal introduced the Commission report. “The recommendations in this report are so important, because they will protect and support hundreds of thousands of jobs,” stated Deal. “Jobs are just one part of the story about the positive effects of recreational saltwater fishing on our culture and how we conserve and protect our marine resources and make them sustainable well into the future. Our industry and our community understand that there is a responsibility to being a sportsman; there is an ethic that requires a great appreciation and desire to have the best possible fish habitat. We want to see a strong, cooperative relationship between our state and our federal fisheries management, and to develop a better relationship between those who manage and those who fish.”
The Morris-Deal Commission assembled an expert panel of state and federal agency administrators, researchers, charter boat captains, industry representatives, individual anglers and economists to produce a proactive vision for saltwater fisheries management.
Morris followed Deal by thanking the CSC for their leadership. “I’d like to say thank you to the members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus for making conservation and the outdoors and hunting and fishing one of your priorities,” said Morris, who proceeded to highlight the report. “The focus of this plan for saltwater fisheries management is really about enhancing and allocating our marine fisheries resources to the greatest benefit of all Americans.”
According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, 11 million Americans recreationally fish in saltwater each year. These sportsmen and women contribute more than $70 billion to the nation’s economy and $1.5 billion for on-the-ground conservation of our aquatic resources and habitat through the American System of Conservation Funding. Despite the significant conservation, cultural and economic contributions of saltwater recreational anglers, the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act does not sufficiently address this important use of our nation’s public fishery resources. The Morris-Deal Commission sets out a framework for saltwater recreational fishing’s future.
The briefing’s sponsors included: American Sportfishing Association, Center for Coastal Conservation, Coastal Conservation Association, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, International Game Fish Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
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?