Press Releases

Press Releases

Angling community applauds legislation to deflate algal blooms

HR 6645 would reauthorize programs to assess and control damaging hypoxia events

Recreational anglers are lending their support to a bill that proposes to advance the scientific understanding of harmful algal blooms and improve methods to detect, monitor and assess the damage associated with such events. Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) has introduced HR 6645, the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA) of 2018, which would establish the Greater Everglades Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Assessment, and facilitate development of an action plan to address, mitigate and control future harmful blooms in this environmentally sensitive area. 

“What is happening off the coast of Florida this year can only be described as a tragedy and has been devastating to our marine ecosystem,” said Brian Gorski, executive director of CCA Florida. “CCA Florida is pleased to support this legislation from Rep. Mast because we need to use every available tool at our disposal to control and prevent these kinds of ecological disasters in the future if at all possible.”

No more than two years after passage, HR 6645 calls for an inter-agency task force to develop and submit to Congress a plan for reducing, mitigating and controlling harmful algal blooms and hypoxia in the Greater Everglades Region and provide biennial progress reports on all activities undertaken to achieve the objectives of the plan. The bill also increases the annual reauthorization of appropriation for the National Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Program to $22 million.

“The only shortcoming to any plan that makes more resources available todayto address this problem is that Congress and the state didn’t do it 20 years ago,” said Gorski. “The water situation in Florida is a catastrophe and it has made it crystal clear how closely tied our economy and quality of life is to our marine environment. We are grateful to Rep. Mast for his efforts to get a handle on Florida’s water quality issues and we urge Congress to pass this legislation as quickly as possible.”

 

The full letter is below. 

 

 

September 4, 2018

The Honorable Brian Mast
U.S. House of Representatives
2182 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515


Dear Representative Mast:

On behalf of the millions of Americans who enjoy recreational fishing and boating and the tens of thousands of businesses they support, we are writing to express our strong support for H.R. 6645, the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA) of 2018.

Your legislation, as well as H.R. 4417, the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2017, is critically important to advancing the scientific understanding and ability to detect, monitor, assess, and predict harmful algal blooms (HABs).As we’ve recently witnessed in South Florida, the Great Lakes and many other parts of the country, HABs have a severe impact on fish populations, fisheries habitats and even human health. Not only are entire ecosystems suffering as a result, but the economic losses continue to mount as local businesses that depend on access to healthy aquatic systems are negatively impacted as well.

Building upon action plans required in the previous reauthorization of HABHRCA, this bill recognizes the ongoing frequency and severity of HABs in South Florida by establishing the Greater Everglades Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Assessment and the subsequent development of an action plan to address, mitigate and control future HABs in this environmentally important area.

In addition to South Florida, these events gravely impact freshwater habitats in rivers and lakes throughout the country, especially in the Great Lakes region. Thus, we are pleased to see your bill reauthorize the National Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Program and the federal interagency working group, which would allow the group to continue building upon its success of developing and implementing action plans to address harmful algal blooms.

Once again, thank you for your efforts on this important issue, and we appreciate your continued leadership in support of clean water and healthy fisheries. We look forward to working with you to ensure H.R. 6645’s passage.

Sincerely,

American Sportfishing Association
Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S)

Boat U.S.
Center for Sportfishing Policy

Coastal Conservation Association
Coastal Conservation Association Florida

Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Florida Guides Association
Future Angler Foundation
Great Lakes Fishery Commission
Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation
International Game Fish Association
Jersey Coast Anglers Association
Kenai River Sportfishing Association
Marine Retailers Association of the Americas
National Association of Charterboat Operators (NACO) National Marine Manufacturers Association
National Professional Anglers Association
Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association Recreational Fishing Alliance
Snook and Gamefish Foundation
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Wildlife Forever











U.S. House of Representatives Passes Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Bill

Landmark Fisheries Reform Takes Major Step Toward Becoming Law

Washington, D.C. – July 11, 2018 – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 200, a bipartisan bill that includes the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 (Modern Fish Act). This historic vote marks the first time the priorities of the recreational fishing sector are included in the reauthorization of our nation’s primary marine fisheries law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

The provisions of the Modern Fish Act (H.R. 2023) were included in H.R. 200 by the House Committee on Natural Resources on December 13, 2017. H.R. 200 is sponsored by Representative Don Young (R-Alaska) and cosponsored by Reps. Garret Graves (R-La.); Brian Babin (R-Texas); Clay Higgins (R-La.); Gene Green (D-Texas); Robert Wittman (R-Va.); Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.); Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.); Steve King (R-Iowa); Marc Veasey (D-Texas); Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), and Austin Scott (R-Ga.).

“Marine recreational fishing is not a partisan issue, which was illustrated by the support H.R. 200 received from both parties today in the House,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “We owe great thanks to Chairman Rob Bishop, Congressmen Don Young, Garret Graves, Gene Green and Marc Veasey for working together to properly recognize recreational fishing within the Magnuson-Stevens Act. These bipartisan leaders have made the difference for anglers from coast to coast.”

In 2014, the priorities of the recreational fishing and boating community were identified and presented to federal policy makers by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management in a report “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries.” This group is also referred to as the Morris-Deal Commission, named for co-chairs Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boat Group. 

Many of the recommendations of the Morris-Deal Commission are addressed by the Modern Fish Act and included in H.R. 200. This legislation addresses many of the challenges faced by recreational anglers, including allowing alternative management tools for recreational fishing, reexamining fisheries allocations and improving recreational data collection. The bill aims to benefit fishing access and conservation by incorporating modern management approaches, science and technology to guide decision-making.

“The recreational fishing industry is grateful that H.R. 200, which includes the provisions of the Modern Fish Act, has now passed the U.S. House of Representatives,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “The Modern Fish Act represents the collective priorities of the recreational fishing community for improving federal marine fisheries management. There are 11 million saltwater anglers in the U.S. who have a $63 billion economic impact annually and generate 440,000 jobs. This legislation will help ensure that the economic, conservation and social values of saltwater recreational fishing will continue well into the future.”

“We applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for passing commonsense legislation modernizing the federal fisheries management system, which will provide America’s recreational anglers and boaters reasonable and responsible access to public marine resources,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “The recreational boating industry calls on the U.S. Senate to pick up the baton, and immediately take up and pass S.1520, the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 (Modern Fish Act). Millions of Americans are counting on it.”

“We are grateful to our champions from both sides of the aisle in the House for recognizing the needs of recreational anglers and advancing this important fisheries management reform,” said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “This is truly a watershed moment for anglers in our never-ending quest to ensure the health and conservation of our marine resources and anglers’ access to them.”

“We thank the House Leadership, Congressman Young and the leaders of the House Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus for their leadership in finding bipartisan solutions to move the bill forward,” said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “The provisions of the Modern Fish Act contained in H.R. 200 are a top priority for saltwater anglers across the United States and charts a clear course for effective recreational fisheries management while ensuring abundant, sustainable fisheries for future generations.”

“We are on our way to pragmatic Magnuson-Stevens Act reform that will allow better access to rebuilt fish stocks while ensuring long-term sustainability,” said Jim Donofrio, president of the Recreational Fishing Alliance

“Passing these provisions of the Modern Fish Act means taking the next important step in recognizing the cultural value of recreational fishing and conservation contributions of American anglers,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We will continue to work with our sportfishing partners to engage with senators and see to it that the Modern Fish Act becomes law—it is critical if we hope to see saltwater anglers benefit from the advances in fisheries science, data collection, and management at the heart of this important legislation.”

Following today’s vote, the coalition encourages the Senate to quickly pass S. 1520. Marine recreational anglers and boaters are eager to see these landmark reforms signed into law.

-end-

150-Foot Steel Vessel Deployed in Volusia County

New Reef the Result of Several Partnerships

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Florida – (June 27, 2018) –On Saturday, June 23, 2018, the Lady Philomena, a 150-foot steel vessel was deployed in 80 feet of water at artificial reef site 12, roughly nine miles offshore the Ponce de Leon Inlet. 

This project was made possible through the funding partnerships of Volusia County, Coastal Conservation Association Florida (CCA Florida) and CCA’s National Habitat Program, the Building Conservation Trust (BCT). BCT received a grant from the FishAmerica Foundation, the conservation funding arm of the American Sportfishing Association, and the Brunswick Public Foundation, which helped ensure the project’s success. 

“As the FishAmerica Foundation celebrates 35 years of teaming with local groups to enhance fisheries and water quality, there could be no better effort to exemplify the accomplishments that can be made than participating in the deployment of the Lady Philomena in conjunction with CCA Florida and BCT,” remarked Andrew Loftus, grant manager for the FishAmerica Foundation. “The benefits of this project to the environment, economy and sport fishing will grow each year as the reef ecosystem develops.”

“Meaningful partnerships are the reason we are able to do great marine habitat work in Florida and throughout the United States,” said John Carlson, chairman of the Building Conservation Trust. “The dedication of like-minded organizations demonstrates the power of coming together to benefit marine life and the local community.”

The 90-foot Tug Everglades was also placed alongside the Lady Philomena during last week’s deployment. The vessels are intact and upright on the seabed in very close proximity to one another and will make excellent fishing and diving sites.

The Lady Philomena was forfeited to the U.S. Customs in Miami, after having been seized with contraband. The vessel was deployed in an established artificial reef system consisting of clean concrete culverts, structures and large concrete bridge components. The deployment of the Lady Philomena will enhance this underwater community, attracting marine life such as fish, shrimp and crabs. Artificial reefs also boost local economies through an increase in sport fishing, tourism and patronage in small businesses. The Volusia County artificial reef system is visited by an estimated 50,000 vessels annually and experiences high visitation by recreational anglers and divers.

The reef started generating local excitement last fall, when Volusia County hosted a two-day viewing party that enabled visitors the opportunity to tour the ship. 

“The deployment of the Lady Philomena has been widely anticipated, and it is so gratifying to have seen the project’s completion, from start to finish,” said Brian Gorski, executive director of CCA Florida. “Projects like this really bring nearby residents together and educate the public of the value of marine habitat conservation. We are so grateful for our many strong partnerships, as well as the outpouring of support from the local community.”

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