National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries has decided to adopt a national recreational fishing policy, a move greeted enthusiastically by sportfishing and boating enthusiasts, who have been urging efforts by the National Marine Fisheries Service to advance and protect saltwater recreational fishing.
Small, independent businesspeople want more centralized, remote decision-making? Absolutely, when the alternative is up different states all being lobbied by activists.
The announcement comes on the heels of a recent series of meetings on Capitol Hill during which the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, co-chaired by Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boats, presented recommendations from "A Vision for Managing America's Saltwater Recreational Fisheries." The new report outlines recreational fisheries management issues that need to be addressed in the congressional reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, the law that governs the nation's marine resources.
The commission, composed of anglers, scientists, former agency administrators, conservationists and economists, as well as prominent members of the industry, wants to ensure that saltwater recreational fishing becomes a priority of NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service. In 2011, approximately 11 million Americans saltwater fished recreationally, making them one of NOAA's largest organized constituencies, one with a substantial economic impact.
Chief among the recommendations desired is the establishment of a national policy for recreational saltwater fishing.
"In order for our nation to understand and embrace the positive aspects of recreational saltwater fishing in this country – be they the economic, cultural or quality-of-life benefits – our fisheries managers need to have policies and laws that reflect recreational interests," said Deal. "NOAA has demonstrated it is ready to develop those policies."
"With the 'Vision for Managing America's Saltwater Recreational Fisheries' report as our guiding document, we came to the NOAA Summit with a clear vision for where saltwater recreational fisheries management must go," said American Sportfishing Association President and CEO Mike Nussman. "NOAA is clearly listening, as evidenced by their immediate commitment to accomplish the first goal of the report: to establish a national policy for saltwater recreational fisheries management. We're looking forward to working with NOAA to accomplish this goal, as well as the other key recommendations presented in the report."
"America's 11 million saltwater recreational anglers spent $27 billion in 2011, generating more than $70 billion and sustaining 450,000 jobs," said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. "The importance of this economic sector – and its contributions to fisheries habitat and conservation via excise taxes, donations and license fees – cannot be ignored. We commend NOAA Fisheries for acknowledging it."
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