January 15, 2015

Recreational Fishing Community Provides Recommendations for New Management Policy

On December 30, 2014, eight leaders from recreational fishing organizations, including Jeff Crane, President of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), sent a letter to Assistant Administrator for Fisheries of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Eileen Sobeck, with recommendations for the draft National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy on behalf of the recreational fishing community. The letter followed a meeting with Sobeck, elaborating on items discussed at the meeting.

NMFS’s commitment to develop a National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy, in response to the recommendation made by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management (also known as the Morris-Deal Commission), was widely praised by the recreational fishing community. However, the letter strongly recommended that, when released, the National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy be accompanied by an implementation plan for how NMFS should manage recreational fishing, as it is fundamentally different from commercial fisheries. Specifically, the recreational community is looking for how the policy would translate to a system of management where recreational species are managed for abundance and age structure; catch and harvest are allowed to move up or down with the population level; managing for consistent fishing seasons; ensuring recreational fisheries are not managed with catch share systems, and limit implementation of catch share system in mixed-sector fisheries; and allocations between the commercial and recreational sectors are set using economic valuation as one of the primary metrics, not just past catch history.  Although the draft National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy touches on the potential for many of these needed changes to NMFS’s approach to fisheries management, without a detailed implementation plan, the value of the new policy for the recreational community would remain uncertain.

Along with CSF’s Jeff Crane, the letter was also signed by Mike Nussman (American Sportfishing Association President), Jeff Angers (Center for Coastal Conservation President), Patrick Murray (Coastal Conservation Association President, and CSF Board of Directors member), Steve Stock (Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation President), Rob Kramer (International Game Fish Association President), Thom Dammrich (National Marine Manufacturers Association President), and Ellen Peel (The Billfish Foundation President).

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?

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