Recreational angling stakeholders gathered on Capitol Hill today for a Congressional Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy Luncheon along with coordinated congressional office visits. Event sponsors included American Sportfishing Association, Center for Sportfishing Policy, Coastal Conservation Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, National Marine Manufacturers Association, and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
Today’s “Weigh-in on the Hill” provided a forum for members of Congress, congressional staff, conservation and industry partners, and recreational anglers to discuss current disparities between recreational and commercial fishery management. Specifically, this forum addressed how the current management approach under the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) and the simple adjustments to MSA found in the Modern Fish Act (H.R. 2023 and S. 1520) would improve public access to America’s federal waters, promote conservation of our natural marine resources, and spur economic growth.
“Bottom line is the Modern Fish Act is not about recreational anglers versus commercial fishermen. It is about making a few adjustments to the Magnuson-Stevens Act that allows for the same emphasis on recreational fisheries management as the Act does for commercial fisheries management,” said CSF Fisheries Program Director Chris Horton.
Featured speakers included: Scott Deal of Maverick Boats, Dr. Larry McKinney of Harte Research Institute, Nick Cicero of Folsom Corporation, Mark Mathews of Superior Bait and Tackle, and Ricky Gease of Kenai River Sportfishing Association.
“Recreational and commercial fishing are completely different endeavors and should be managed differently,” said Deal. He continued, “We need commercial fisheries to be healthy, and we need recreational fisheries to be healthy for businesses like mine.”
“The solution is not rocket science; it is not even difficult fisheries science. We currently have the tools and knowledge to improve management for these recreationally important species but are constrained by the Magnuson – Stevens Act that was developed for larger commercial fisheries based on biomass extraction and not for access – what recreational fisheries need,” said Dr. McKinney. “Fisheries should be managed to the best interest of the nation and one important aspect of that interest is economic benefit and job creation.”
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?