Washington, D.C. – June 28, 2017 – Today, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the 2017 Regional Fishery Management Council (RFMC) appointments and has shown that recreational fishing and boating are important to the Trump Administration. The appointments of Steve Heins of New York to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council; Chester Brewer of Florida to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council; and Phil Dyskow of Florida, Dr. Bob Shipp of Alabama, and Dr. Greg Stunz of Texas to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council are a solid affirmation that the Administration is taking federal fisheries management and conservation in the right direction.
“Today’s appointments to the Regional Fishery Management Councils are exactly what the recreational fishing and boating community needed from the Trump Administration,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “America’s 11 million saltwater recreational anglers have been an afterthought for too long, but thanks to the leadership of President Trump and Commerce Secretary Ross, the tide is changing. It is clear the Administration is committed to making sure America’s public resources remain public and that healthy natural resources are available for future generations.”
“The recreational fishing community along the Gulf Coast has found itself at a severe disadvantage in recent years due to an unbalanced Gulf Council,” said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “The Administration heard our calls for action and they have delivered. We look forward to the progress to come and better access to healthy marine resources for America’s recreational anglers.”
“The Trump Administration understands the need for balance in our fishery management system because they care about jobs,” said Mike Nussman, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “Saltwater recreational fishing in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico is the backbone of our industry and supports almost twice as many jobs there as the commercial industry. Creating more balanced Councils in these regions in particular was absolutely the right thing to do.”
“Today’s appointments demonstrate that Secretary Ross understands that recreational boating and fishing are critical components of the U.S. economy,” said Nicole Vasilaros, vice president of federal and legal affairs for the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “We look forward to our continued work with the Secretary and Administration to advance our shared priorities.”
“The Trump Administration continues to demonstrate they only want the best and brightest,” said Jim Donofrio, president of the Recreational Fishing Alliance.
Heins is a life-long angler who has worked fairly and skillfully with both sectors of New York’s fisheries. After 29 years of service, he recently retired from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Heins has a proven track record of working with the New York fishing community to build consensus and achieve management and policy decisions that are in the best interest of fisheries resources and the people who depend on them.
Brewer is well qualified for this position with more than 35 years of experience with recreational fisheries issues. As a current member of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) and Chairman of the Advisory Panel Selection Committee, he has broad knowledge regarding the fisheries in the Southeast region and brings with him valuable experiences from the recreational fishing sector. In addition to his work on the SAFMC, he currently serves as Chairman Emeritus for the Florida state chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association, a board member of the West Palm Beach Fishing Club and a member of the board of the Palm Beach County Fishing Foundation. Previously, he served 10 years as Recreational Advisor to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna – U.S. Section.
Given his diverse knowledge of marine fisheries issues and proven business leadership, Dyskow will be a balanced, educated, and effective Council member. Now retired following a successful career with the Yamaha Marine Group, culminating in his 13 year tenure as President, Dyskow has now devoted much of his free time toward fisheries conservation and management efforts. He has served on the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee and on the National Boating Safety Advisory Council.
Dr. Shipp is an exceptionally well-qualified candidate to represent Alabama on the Gulf Council, as he is considered one of the foremost experts on red snapper, triggerfish and other species of concern to Gulf Coast anglers. He has admirably served on the Gulf Council for 18 years, including as Chairman of the Council, and has also served on the Council’s Science and Statistical Committee. As Chair Emeritus of the Department of Marine Science at the University of South Alabama, he brings a scientific and pragmatic perspective to difficult fishery management issues that is very much needed at the Gulf Council.
Dr. Stunz is one of the foremost authorities on Gulf of Mexico marine science and he brings a much-needed, balanced perspective to federal fisheries issues. Dr. Stunz is the endowed chair for Fisheries and Ocean Health and executive director of the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation at the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies. He is also a professor of Marine Biology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi College of Science and Technology and is an author of more than 40 scientific papers in national and international journals. With more than 20 years researching marine fisheries, he is well-versed with the issues facing the Gulf Council.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 20, 2017) – Welcome aboard, Chris Oliver! We look forward to working with Mr. Oliver as he leads the National Marine Fisheries Service.
We are anxious to work with Mr. Oliver to ensure America’s public resources remain public. Coastal communities, manufacturers in the heartland, and 11 million individual saltwater recreational anglers are depending on him to lead the Agency in a way that is transparent and that fosters better public access, consistent and fair fishing regulations, and healthy natural marine resources available for future generations.
Based on Mr. Oliver’s depth of experience in fisheries management, we are hopeful that he will develop a fisheries management policy recognizing the true economic impacts of the recreational fishing sector. According to Fisheries Economics of the United States, 2015, the recreational sector has an economic impact of $63.4 billion versus the domestic commercial sector at $13.9 billion.
We are hopeful that when filling the Regional Fishery Management Councils, Mr. Oliver will guide explicit balance of interests in their composition. His attention is greatly needed in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions. More than half of all saltwater fishing trips in the U.S. take place in the Southeast and most of these trips are taken by private anglers on privately owned boats, rather than charter boats. Furthermore, there are almost twice as many jobs supported in this region by recreational fishing (165,118) than commercial fishing (93,916), according to FEUS 2015. Despite these facts, only three of the 34 seats combined on the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils are currently held by private recreational anglers representing themselves.
We are hopeful Mr. Oliver will work with the Congress and recreational fishing stakeholders to advance the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017. The Modern Fish Act will bring parity to recreational and commercial fishing by making critical changes to federal fisheries laws that were never designed to manage recreational fishing.
Will President Trump Drain This Swamp?
As published in Sport Fishing Magazine.
In a tremendous display of arrogance, Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council member David Walker of Alabama went on a rant at the June meeting of the Gulf Council in which he proclaimed that millionaire shareholders like himself are the only ones who contribute anything to the red snapper fishery.
He was referring to the paltry 3 percent administrative fee that shareholders are required to pay to cover the expense of the catch share program that has made him rich. The fact that NOAA Fisheries acknowledges the fee doesn’t even cover the cost of the program (the shortfall is picked up by taxpayers like you and me) did not deter Walker from his outlandish claims. He went on to challenge recreational anglers to show what they contribute.
Obviously, he needs a quick lesson on the tens of millions of dollars anglers contribute every year to the American System of Conservation Funding through license fees, excise taxes, and other conservation funding. And unless Walker is giving his commercially caught red snapper away for free, there is a fundamental difference between the two sectors that he would be wise to explore.
But the brazen display didn’t stop there. At the same meeting, another shareholder made wealthy by the red snapper catch share program threatened the Council with legal action if it even considered proposals to auction red snapper shares (rather than giving them away for free), or if it explored altering the program in any way to make a more fair deal for the American public. Other commercial shareholders ominously proclaimed that if the Council even discussed proposals that would disallow them from leasing “their” fish to sharecroppers it would create uncertainty in their business, which would be detrimental to their profits.
The end result of efforts by groups like the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to privatize public marine resources was on full display at this meeting. They may not have intended it, but EDF and their allies have created an entire class of spoiled, entitled bullies, ready to intimidate anyone who threatens their domain, from Council members to Congressmen.
Walker’s stance is particularly egregious. He not only owns Walker Fishing Fleet, Inc. with his wife, and can make more than $600,000 a year just leasing his 177,172 pounds of Gulf commercial red snapper quota to sharecroppers, he gets to cast votes on anything that might affect his private red snapper bank account as a member of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. NOAA’s financial interest guidelines state that Council members may not vote on any Council decision that would have a significant and predictable effect on their own financial interests, but no one on the Gulf Council has ever recused themselves from a vote related to these issues. Not even Walker, who could sell his red snapper shares tomorrow for more than $5 million.
When people talk of the need to “drain the swamp” in DC, the murky dealings of the federal fisheries management process would be a good place to start. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will be making appointments to the regional fishery management councils in the coming days and Walker’s seat on the Gulf Council is one of those up for reappointment. The decision on this particular seat will be very telling of the Administration’s commitment to clean up the morass in federal fisheries management.
The regional fishery council system was never designed to withstand the manipulation that accompanies free-for-all resource giveaways like the red snapper catch share program. It was not meant for Sea Lords like David Walker to cast votes that directly impact his ability to gain ownership of public resources — without paying resource rent. Secretary Ross has an opportunity to send a message and turn the Gulf Council away from the chaos that has characterized it for so many years and put it back on a path to transparency and integrity with this one appointment. We hope his message is received loud and clear.
Anglers Commend Commerce Extension of Gulf Red Snapper Season, Encourage Officials to Find a Long-Term Solution
Washington, D.C. – June 14, 2017 – Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced an agreement has been reached between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the five Gulf Coast states to extend the 2017 recreational red snapper season by 39 weekend days in the Gulf of Mexico for private recreational anglers.
This action, lauded by recreational fishermen across the country, reverses the Federal government’s recent trend to shorten the federal red snapper season. Most recently, regulators limited the window to just three days.
Under the jurisdiction of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service within NOAA, what was once a six-month red snapper season with a four-fish bag limit for recreational anglers was reduced to a historically low three-day season with a two-fish bag limit in 2017. That three-day federal season ran from June 1 to June 3.
As a result of today’s action, red snapper season will reopen for private recreational anglers in the Gulf out to 200 miles every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, including Monday and Tuesday of the July Fourth holiday and the Monday of Labor Day. This 39-day season will begin Friday, June 16, in time for Father’s Day weekend and ends on Labor Day, September 4. State seasons will run congruently with the federal season.
Jeff Angers, President of the Center for Sportfishing Policy released the following statement in response:
Today’s announcement is a fix – albeit a short-term fix – that will allow millions to enjoy one of America’s greatest pastimes and boost economies far beyond the Gulf of Mexico – including in the manufacturing and retail sectors in non-coastal states.
The federal fisheries management system is failing recreational anglers on many levels, and the red snapper is the “poster fish” of the quagmire. The temporary rule directly addresses this problem, giving millions of recreational anglers in the Gulf of Mexico an opportunity to enjoy America’s natural resources and giving the Gulf economy a much-needed shot in the arm.
Today would not be possible without the tireless work of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Industry leaders met with Secretary Ross in March, and he listened. We also thank Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), Congressmen Garret Graves (R-La.) and Austin Scott (R-Ga.) for beginning the conversation with the Trump Administration in March regarding the mistreatment of private recreational anglers. The status quo in federal fisheries management driven by radical environmentalists is a man-made fishery management disaster.
While private recreational anglers – those who purchased a boat, fishing gear, fishing license, fuel, ice, etc. – were limited to a three-day red snapper season in federal waters this year, charter boat operators were granted a 49-day season and commercial fishermen were granted a 365-day season. People profiting from our public resources were gifted more access than the American public. By setting the three-day season, federal fisheries managers essentially told the public the only way they could access this public resource would be to hire a charter boat captain to take them fishing for red snapper in federal waters or to purchase red snapper at the grocery store.
Anglers commend the Trump Administration and Members of Congress for hearing our calls for more access to federal waters — and for taking action. We must now find a permanent solution to the problem. Recreational anglers deserve a more consistent fishery management approach. The common-sense, long-term solution is to turn the Gulf red snapper recreational fishery over to the states. The five Gulf states have a proven track record of allowing reasonable public access to healthy fish stocks off their coasts, and they are far more in touch with the recreational fishing community than the Gulf Council.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 31, 2017) – The Center for Sportfishing Policy, the nation’s leading advocate for saltwater recreational anglers, is pleased to announce its new chairman of the board of directors, Robert G. “Bob” Hayes. Hayes was elected to the leadership role at the Center’s annual board of directors meeting on Tuesday, May 16, and succeeds Jack Lawton, Jr., founding chairman of the Center.
“The Center for Sportfishing Policy is fortunate to have such monumental leaders in the sportfishing community involved with the organization,” said Jeff Angers, President of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “As we welcome Bob Hayes as our new Chairman and celebrate his achievements in marine conservation, we thank Jack Lawton, Jr. for his hard work and dedication in making the Center the success it is today.”
“Jack Lawton and Bob Hayes were two of the first to see the value in creating the Center for Sportfishing Policy as a way to organize recreational fishing stakeholders and influence the politics of fish,” said Angers. “A huge ‘thank you’ goes to Jack for leading the Center for the past 11 years. It is because of his leadership America’s 11 million saltwater recreational anglers have an effective voice on Capitol Hill today.”
Lawton is president and chief executive officer of Jack Lawton Companies headquartered in Lake Charles, La. An avid outdoorsman and leader in non-profit organizations, Lawton has been involved as a member and/or officer in several conservation organizations, including Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana, Center for Sportfishing Policy and Delta Waterfowl. He is a founding member of the Gulf Coast Conservation Association of Louisiana—the predecessor to CCA Louisiana. During Lawton’s 25 years as chairman of CCA Louisiana, the organization expanded significantly into an influential force that protected redfish with gamefish status; established a ban on gill nets, and initiated countless habitat and coastal restoration projects. He received the prestigious Future of Fishing Award from the American Sportfishing Association in 2011 and the Walter W. Fondren III Conservation Leadership Award from CCA for his work nurturing and growing recreational fishing over decades.
Hayes brings to the Center his experiences from a 30+-year career of advocating for saltwater recreational fishermen nationally and internationally. He has played a key role in the most significant marine conservation victories in that time – including net bans, the recovery of the red drum and billfish conservation. Hayes served as an attorney for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and he also served two terms as the U.S. Recreational Fisheries Commissioner to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. Along with the Center, he has been affiliated with ASA and CCA for many decades. Hayes received the Walter Fondren and Norville Prosser awards for his work in conservation and was selected as the Conservationist of the Year in 2006 by Outdoor Life.
“Bob Hayes is one of the most consequential advocates in marine conservation today, and I am positive he will continue to guide the Center for Sportfishing Policy in the right direction,” said Mike Nussman, President of the American Sportfishing Association and member of the Center for Sportfishing Policy board of directors. “For nearly four decades, Jack Lawton has been a champion for marine conservation from coast to coast, and we thank him for his dedication to building the Center for Sportfishing Policy into such a strong voice for anglers in Washington.”
“I am confident that the Center for Sportfishing Policy will continue to have strong presence on Capitol Hill under the visionary leadership of Bob Hayes,” said Thom Dammrich, President of the National Marine Manufacturers Association and member of the Center for Sportfishing Policy board of directors. “Bob and his predecessor, Jack Lawton, have been involved in so many of the major strides taken by the recreational fishing community over the years.”
The Center for Sportfishing Policy is the nation’s leading advocate for saltwater recreational anglers. The Center organizes, focuses and engages recreational fishing stakeholders to shape federal marine fisheries management policies. For more information, visit www.SportfishingPolicy.com.
WASHINGTON, DC (May 18, 2017) – Conservationists and anglers are applauding the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for advancing S. 396, the Billfish Conservation Act. The bill, introduced in February by U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), was adopted and reported favorably without amendment during an executive session on May 18.
The Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 banned the importation of all billfish caught by foreign fleets into the continental United States and, perhaps most importantly, set an example for other countries to pursue similar conservation efforts once thought impossible. However, questions arose over whether the same prohibitions on foreign-caught billfish imposed by the bill also applied to billfish caught commercially in Hawaii. If commercially caught billfish could be transported from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland, it would circumvent the intent of the conservation measure. S. 396 simply clarifies that billfish landed in Hawaii must be retained there.
“On behalf of America’s 11 million saltwater anglers, the Center for Sportfishing Policy commends the Senate Commerce Committee on advancing this important correction to the Billfish Conservation Act,” said Jeff Angers, President of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “With S. 396 crossing its first hurdle in the Senate, we are hopeful that Congress will act quickly to finally ensure that the United States stands firm as the leader in billfish conservation.”
Prior to the passage of the Billfish Conservation Act, the U.S. was the number one importer of billfish in the world. U.S. calls for greater billfish conservation in international fishery management circles in the past were often met with skepticism, and disregarded. Implemented as originally intended, the law should make it easier for the U.S. to establish a greater leadership role for the international protection of billfish.
“IGFA is thankful to Senators Nelson, Rubio, Manchin and Moran and to the Senate Commerce Committee for approving this meaningful amendment to the Billfish Conservation Act,” said Rob Kramer, President of the International Game Fish Association. “Today’s action brings us one step closer to ensuring that these magnificent fish are properly protected under the original intent of the law.”
The coalition of groups supporting the Billfish Conservation Act includes American Sportfishing Association, The Billfish Foundation, Center for Sportfishing Policy, Coastal Conservation Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, International Game Fish Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, OCEARCH and Wild Oceans.
Dave Pfeiffer: 2017 Eddie Smith Manufacturer of the Year
Washington, D.C. (May 17, 2017) – The Center for Sportfishing Policy hosted its annual fly-in “Center Focus on Washington,” where recreational anglers and boaters participated in critical discussions with key policymakers over the two-day meeting held May 15-16. As in years past, the Center co-located its fly-in with the American Boating Congress (ABC) hosted by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).
Key issues for ABC and Center Focus participants: Passing the Modern Fish Act to fix the Magnuson-Stevens Act; Ensuring robust public access to federally managed waters; Reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard; Solving the Gulf red snapper catastrophe; and many others. These matters were discussed during the course of the fly-in with top administration and Capitol Hill officials, including representatives from the Department of Commerce and the House Natural Resources Committee, among others.
“Members of the Center for Sportfishing Policy and the National Marine Manufacturers Association are among the most effective advocates in the recreational fishing and boating industry,” said Jeff Angers, President of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “Recreational boating and fishing are key drivers in the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy, and we look forward to working with the Administration and policymakers to ensure continued growth and better public access to our nation’s natural marine resources.”
At the American Boating Congress luncheon on Tuesday, the Center honored Dave Pfeiffer with its Eddie Smith Manufacturer of the Year Award. Pfeiffer is the President and CEO of Shimano and a visionary volunteer leader for marine conservation.
“Dave Pfeiffer is committed to sharing his passion for fishing with others and ensuring recreational fishing exists for future generations,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “Dave serves as an example of a true leader in conservation, and we honor him for playing an important role in the battle for access to America’s public fishery resources.”
Pfeiffer has served as Chairman of the Board for the American Sportfishing Association. He is a founding board member and vice chairman of the Coastal Conservation Association of California. He’s a founding board member of the Jose Wejebe Spanish Fly Memorial Foundation.
The Eddie Smith Manufacturer of the Year award was established by the Center to honor extraordinary commitment to conservation by manufacturers. An icon in marine manufacturing, Smith served on NMMA’s board; the International Game Fish Association board; the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation board, and many other leadership roles. Well known as the owner of Grady White Boats, Smith received the first-ever ASA Lifetime Achievement Award and is a member of the NMMA Hall of Fame.
Past recipients of the award include AFTCO’s Bill Shedd; Bass Pro Shops’ Johnny Morris; Grady White Boats’ Kris Carroll; Maverick Boats’ Scott Deal, and Yamaha’s Phil Dyskow.
The Center for Sportfishing Policy is the nation’s leading advocate for saltwater recreational anglers. The Center organizes, focuses and engages recreational fishing stakeholders to shape federal marine fisheries management policies. For more information, visit www.sportfishingpolicy.com.
Angers Op-Ed: Congress has best opportunity in years to reform fisheries management in federal waters
Each year, spring marks the time when millions of Americans get outdoors to enjoy the splendor of our nation’s natural resources. Sadly, for America’s 11 million saltwater recreational anglers, each year brings new disappointment—not by harsh weather conditions or the one that got away—but by ill-designed federal fishing regulations based on bad data and management. Among the challenges faced by America’s saltwater recreational anglers are draconian restrictions on fisheries access; road blocks against the use of modern science to monitor the health of fish stocks; and inconsistent season dates that discourage participation and hamper businesses dependent on sportsmen. Saltwater recreational fishing is one of America’s greatest pastimes and has a national economic footprint of $70 billion per year—an economic benefit worthy of attention.
In early April, a bipartisan group of House members joined together to propose sweeping legislation that if passed will improve the way Americans enjoy our natural marine resources. Led by Reps. Garret Graves (R-La.), Gene Green (D-Texas), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.), the “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017,” or the Modern Fish Act, will address the challenges that have plagued millions of Americans and businesses for far too long. The bill would go a long way toward bringing management of federal fisheries into the 21st century.
For decades, marine fisheries have been governed by the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which was designed to provide oversight of the commercial fishing sector, not the recreational sector. The failure to make this distinction has hindered America’s saltwater anglers for years and kept the recreational fishing industry from performing at its full potential.
Most striking about the federal fisheries management system is how it regularly eliminates opportunities for Americans to share in America’s public resources. The problem largely stems from the federal government’s reliance on unfit methods to collect scientific data on recreational anglers and the fish we pursue. Consistently inaccurate measurements have led government regulators to curtail recreational fishing seasons and limit public access to certain species in federal waters. This action is unwarranted, as many of the fish stocks receiving additional “protection” are thriving, but, nevertheless, families are being left at the dock.
The effects are not only being felt by saltwater recreational anglers. Thousands of businesses—from bait and tackle shops along the coast to retailers and manufacturers across the nation—suffer the consequences of the government’s folly. With their time on the water choked by regulation, boaters and anglers are far less likely to purchase goods and services related to fishing. This has had a chilling impact on business.
Another victim of the system is conservation. America’s sportsmen are the original conservationists, and we fully recognize the importance of keeping healthy, robust stocks of fish and game. A considerable portion of the overall funding for the nation’s conservation efforts is in fact generated by recreational fishing licenses and excise taxes. This should not be taken lightly. It would devastate our natural resources if anglers and boaters—who contribute $1.5 billion annually to fisheries and habitat conservation through excise taxes, donations and license fees—decided to throw in the towel due to lack of access.
The Modern Fish Act addresses each of these serious challenges. This landmark legislation would update federal fisheries management for recreational angling by opening the door to alternative management techniques that would improve public access to America’s federal waters, promote conservation of our natural marine resources and spur economic growth. These are goals every American can support, and leaders in Congress on both sides of the aisle should do everything in their power to help get Americans back on the water.
Read more at The Hill.
Congress Should Not Be Fooled by Scare Tactics; Modern Fish Act Will Improve Public Access to America’s Waters, Boost Business and Improve Science
Washington, D.C. – April 11, 2017 – Last week’s bi-partisan introduction of the “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017” (Modern Fish Act) marked the best opportunity in years for Congress to address serious challenges that have faced the nation’s saltwater recreational fishing community for far too long. If passed, the Modern Fish Act will reform key aspects of current federal fisheries management policy, allowing for greater public access to America’s waters, enhanced science and a much-needed boost for thousands of businesses.
Despite these many benefits, a few defenders of the status quo have voiced over-the-top and misinformed interpretations of the bill. While disappointing, this should come as no surprise, as these same groups seem more interested in demeaning and grandstanding than working with anglers on real solutions to the numerous challenges with federal fisheries management. This is unfortunate, because as federal fisheries managers are being forced to do a lot of guessing in the regulation of recreational fishing, it is not only the American angler who is hurt by the status quo, but our natural resources as well.
America’s 11 million saltwater recreational anglers—and the businesses they support—have experienced systematic reduction of opportunities to enjoy America’s marine resources. Our elected leaders should not be fooled by scare tactics, as any objective observer would find that current federal policies are failing millions of Americans.
Our nation’s sportsmen are the original conservationists, and the recreational fishing community is eager to work with Congress to pass reforms that enhance conservation of our marine resources and get Americans back on the water. These are goals that every American can support, and the nation’s recreational anglers urge members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to support recreational fishing by cosponsoring H.R. 2023, the Modern Fish Act.