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A last-minute decree from the Obama Administration to phase out the use of traditional fishing tackle in waters under the management of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has drawn the ire of the recreational angling community. Filed on the day before President Obama left office, Director’s Order No. 219 will require the use of nontoxic ammunition and fishing tackle to the fullest extent practicable for all activities on Service lands, waters and facilities by January 2022, except as needed for law enforcement or health and safety uses, as provided for in policy.
 
Coastal Conservation Association is joining partners in the recreational angling, boating and tackle community to call on new leadership at the Service to rescind Order No. 219 and work to develop instead a science-driven policy with input from stakeholders.
 

Read more: Last-Minute Lead Tackle Ban Shocks Angling Community

The linked editorial below is from Jeff Angers with the Center for Sportfishing Policy and has been published on the Sport Fishing Magazine web site. It is a call for President Trump to take this opportunity to break from the past and appoint people in the federal fisheries management leadership structure who understand recreational fisheries. It clearly articulates what anglers expect and we encourage you to share it with your state chapter membership:
Anglers Call on Trump to Deliver
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and staff are to be commended for proposing innovative measures for red snapper management in the Atlantic.  Under the current restraints on this fishery, without a fresh look at management options it is unlikely a season for red snapper would open in the foreseeable future.  We appreciate their efforts and the opportunity to comment on the scoping phase of Amendment 43.

One of the fundamental problems with red snapper is the large number of estimated dead discards, which are literally overwhelming the allowable mortality.  The discards are preventing any chance of opening a season for red snapper harvest. Few, if any, of the suggested management options in this scoping document would matter unless and until the number of dead discards is reduced.  However, the first thing that must be done is verify that the current estimate of discards is accurate.  We hope the Council, as a first step, would have the Science and Statistical Committee re-examine the current discard mortality estimate to ensure it is the best and most current estimate.  

Read more: Coastal Conservation Association Comments on South Atlantic Fishery Management Council...

Series of recommendations for next Administration and Congress urge improvements

to public access that create jobs and enhance conservation

 

Washington, D.C. – October 19, 2016 – The Center for Coastal Conservation, along with the nation’s leading marine conservation and trades associations, today released a landmark series of recommendations for the incoming Administration and the new Congress that strive to balance improving access to public waters, creating economic growth, and enhancing the conservation of marine fish stocks. The guidance for federal policy makers in A Vision for Marine Fisheries Management in the 21st Century: Priorities for a New Administration calls for an end to antiquated federal policies that have inhibited a vital source of economic growth and a proud American tradition.

“We are deeply committed to ensuring a bright future for marine recreational fishing,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “It’s a critical component of our economy, and it’s a proud part of America’s heritage of conservation. The recommendations in this report will ensure that we as a nation do all we can to continue this legacy.”

Read more: New Report Urges Modernization In Federal Fisheries Management

Monument will conserve important marine resources while maintaining public access for recreational fishing


The recreational fishing and boating community applauds the decision by President Obama to differentiate public use from commercial extraction of marine resources by including recreational fishing as an allowable activity in the new Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, located approximately 150 miles off the Massachusetts coast. This announcement carries on with the precedent in recent marine monument decisions to allow recreational fishing as an important and sustainable use of marine waters.
 
“For many years, the recreational fishing community has worked to educate legislators and decision-makers on the social, conservation and economic benefits that recreational fishing provides to the nation,” said American Sportfishing Association President and CEO Mike Nussman. “Recreational fishing and resource conservation go hand-in-hand. We are grateful that the Obama Administration has taken a thoughtful approach to designating marine monuments in a way that recognizes the importance of allowing the public to access and enjoy these precious areas.”
 

Read more: Recreational Fishing Will Be Allowed in New England Marine Monument

The upcoming meeting of the South Atlantic Fishery Management CouncilSept. 12-16in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is one that could greatly impact the future of recreational angling in the region. Among the items up for discussion are an ad hoc, precedent-setting reallocation of dolphin from the recreational sector to the commercial sector, and a limited entry program for the charter/for-hire industry that would serve as the first step to privatization of marine resources.

The vast majority of dolphin harvest has historically occurred in the recreational sector, which depends on an abundance of the fish to ensure anglers have the opportunity to catch some. In fact, the original Dolphin-Wahoo Fishery Management Plan recognized the importance of dolphin to the recreational sector and the looming potential conflict:

Owing to the significant importance of the dolphin/wahoo fishery to the recreational fishing community in the Atlantic, the goal of this fishery management plan is to maintain the current harvest level of dolphin and insure that no new fisheries develop. With the potential for effort shifts in the historical longline fisheries for sharks, tunas, and swordfish, these shifts or expansions into nearshore coastal waters to target dolphin could compromise the current allocation of the dolphin resource between recreational and commercial user groups. Further, these shifts in effort in the commercial fishery, dependent upon the magnitude (knowing that some dolphin trips may land over 25,000 pounds in a single trip) could result in user conflict and localized depletion in abundance.

Read more: South Atlantic Council set to debate issues  critical to recreational anglers

NOAA and our partners at the Fisheries Management Councils have taken an important step to clarify how allocations of fish harvest among recreational, commercial, and subsistence fishermen should be made.

Today, NOAA is issuing an agency Fisheries Allocation and Review Policy (pdf). We are issuing two complementary procedural directives to provide guidance for implementing the policy: Recommended Practices and Factors  to Consider When Reviewing and Making Allocation Decisions (pdf) and Criteria for Initiating Fisheries Allocation Reviews (pdf).
 
We'll also host a conference call on Tuesday, August 2 at 4 pm (EDT) to discuss the policy and answer any questions for the recreational community.
 

Read more: NOAA Announces New Fisheries Allocation Policy

Senators Nelson and Rubio Stand Up for Anglers and Boaters
Newly introduced marine fisheries legislation approved by the Senate Commerce Committee

 

Washington, D.C. (June 29, 2016) – The recreational fishing and boating community strongly supported action today by the Senate Commerce Committee to pass the recently introduced S. 3099, The Access for Sportfishing Act of 2016, which contains several marine fisheries-related provisions. The bill, championed by Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) addresses two of the community’s top priorities. Of particular importance to the recreational fishing and boating community are provisions to prevent unnecessary fishing closures in Biscayne National Park, and to further ensure conservation of billfish populations.

“Recreational fishing is a tremendous economic driver in the U.S., supporting 828,000 jobs,” said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association. “Senators Nelson and Rubio deserve tremendous credit for their leadership in tackling issues of importance to the recreational fishing community not only in Florida but throughout the country. We are extremely pleased with the action today by the Senate Commerce Committee to advance this important legislation.”

A controversial proposal to implement a 10,500-acre marine reserve in Biscayne National Park was finalized in 2015, despite strong opposition from the fishing and boating community and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.  S. 3099 would put in place several requirements the National Park Service would need to meet before implementing any fishing restrictions in Biscayne National Park, including basing the decision on sound fisheries management; prioritizing the state’s science, and ensuring it is the least restrictive measure necessary.

“After attempting to work in good faith with the National Park Service for many years to find a more reasonable path forward, it’s clear that Congressional action is needed to prevent this unwarranted marine reserve from going into effect,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “Any decision as drastic as closing public waters must be based on sound science with efforts made to minimize negative impacts to stakeholders. Thankfully, this bill will ensure a more fair and science-based process is followed.”

The Biscayne National Park marine reserve has been an issue of concern for numerous Members of Congress. The House of Representatives passed a bill, led by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), and 36 other sponsors, to require the National Park Service and Office of National Marine Sanctuaries to have approval from state fish and wildlife agencies before closing state waters to recreational or commercial fishing. Similar legislation, co-sponsored by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Rubio, was recently included in a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, which Cassidy chairs.

Also of significant importance in S. 3099 to the recreational fishing and boating community is a provision to amend the Billfish Conservation Act in an effort to adhere to Congressional intent. The bill would maintain a prohibition on the sale of marlin, sailfish and spearfish while ensuring that the exemption for traditional fisheries does not create new markets for these vulnerable species.

“The Billfish Conservation Act is one of the most significant legislative achievements for marine fisheries conservation in recent years, and we are thankful for the continued diligence of Senators Nelson and Rubio on this important issue,” said Rob Kramer, president of the International Game Fish Association. “We are proud to support S. 3099 as a very positive bill for fisheries conservation and angler access.”

“A thoughtful, inclusive process that conserves our resources while providing enhanced fishing and recreation opportunities is the best approach to managing our public marine resources,” said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “We are grateful to Senators Nelson and Rubio for championing this bill, and ensuring that the public continues to have a voice in the management of our marine resources.”