Why It Matters: Marine Protected Areas are useful tools for protecting marine and cultural resources, and while a very small percentage do prohibit activities like recreational fishing, the vast majority of MPA’s in U.S. waters allow and encourage recreational fishing. CSF’s position on any new MPA designation has always been that science should drive fishery management activities within a given area, and management authority should remain with state and regional fishery management bodies. The proposed Hudson Canyon National Marine Sanctuary would protect an important recreational fishing area in the Mid-Atlantic region while continuing to vest fishery management authority with the regional fishery management councils.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is currently reviewing a proposal to establish the Hudson Canyon as the newest sanctuary in the National Marine Sanctuary system. Hudson Canyon is the largest submarine canyon along the U.S. Atlantic coast and one of the largest in the world. Beginning approximately 100 miles southeast of New York City, the canyon extends about 350 miles seaward, reaching in depths of 2.5 miles, and up to 7.5 miles in width. The diverse habitat of steep slopes, outcrops, various sediment types, and areas of upwellings make it an ecological hotspot for a wide range of marine wildlife, including fish species important to recreational anglers.
Last week, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) joined a coalition on a conditional letter of support for the proposed sanctuary. As currently proposed, jurisdiction over fishery management would remain with the regional fishery management councils, primarily the Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Council. CSF has always advocated for keeping fisheries management authority with the science-based state and regional management bodies relative to any new area-based designations. Keeping management with the regional fishery management councils is paramount to the recreational community’s support of the Hudson Canyon proposal.
Well-managed recreational fishing is a compatible use of our marine resources, and the letter encourages that a clear statement to that affect be included in the sanctuary management plan. Furthermore, the coalition urged that recreational fishing be allowed in any closed areas that may be established for research purposes, unless there is a clearly defined justification and boundary. Using the expertise of recreational anglers and their vessels for research within the sanctuary would add significant value to the goals and objectives of better understanding and protecting the valuable marine resources within the area.
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?