Sportfishing Industry Lists 2015 Top Recreational Fishing Advocacy Accomplishments
Significant progress made in several key areas for recreational fishing’s future
Alexandria, VA – December 15 – 2015 – Over the course of 2015, numerous legislative, public policy and advocacy activities occurred that will have a lasting impact on recreational fishing’s future. The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) today recounted seven of the top recreational fishing advocacy accomplishments of 2015.
“I’m extremely proud of ASA’s efforts to promote fisheries conservation and access to help ensure a strong future for our industry,” said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman. “While we certainly face many challenges in the future, our work in 2015 leaves us well-positioned to face those challenges and build upon the positive social, economic and conservation values that recreational fishing provides to the nation.”
Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund Reauthorization
This month, Congressional conferees reached a five-year agreement to operate and fund national highway and surface transportation. As part of this agreement, ASA, along with its partners in the Angling & Boating Alliance, prevailed in securing approximately $600 million per year for the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, nearly 60 percent of which goes towards fisheries conservation programs. The conference agreement cleared the House and Senate on December 3, and the President signed it into law on December 4.
Industry Unites to Keep Florida Fishing
ASA’s board of directors determined that an initiative specific to Florida was needed to ensure that anglers and the industry’s priorities were taken into consideration when polices or decisions were made that impact recreational fishing in the number one recreational fishing state in the U.S. Working with its partners in Florida, ASA launched the Keep Florida Fishing initiative, with the goal of ensuring that Florida’s resident and visiting anglers have clean water, abundant fisheries and access to both. ASA hired a Florida-based coalition manager and fisheries policy director for this effort.
Federal Marine Fisheries Law Passes House
This past June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the primary statute governing the nation’s marine fisheries. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), contained several provisions including: promote transparency and science-based review of fishery allocations; help to ensure fisheries aren’t unnecessarily closed by provided limited exceptions for annual catch limits; collect and incorporate better angling data and improve the accuracy of fish stock information through greater involvement by the states; and provide NOAA Fisheries the authority to implement better management practices for recreational fishing.
Everglades Management Plan Balances Access and Conservation
The recreational fishing and boating community expressed its collective appreciation to Everglades National Park officials for making meaningful progress to improve habitat conservation while allowing for public access in the final Everglades General Management Plan (GMP). Park officials worked closely with members of the recreational fishing and boating community to identify ways to better facilitate fishing access while minimizing boating impacts to important habitat, namely seagrass.
SportfishingPAC Gives Industry a Stronger Voice on Capitol Hill
In 2015, ASA reinvigorated its Political Action Committee, the SportfishingPAC, to raise funds from ASA member company executives and professional personnel to support Congressional elections and re-election campaigns of Members of Congress who support the interests of the recreational fishing community. Over the course of the year, SportfishingPAC supported 32 pro-sportfishing candidates, with a roughly even split between the House and Senate and Democrats and Republicans.
NOAA Unveils National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy
This past February, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) unveiled a national saltwater recreational fishing policy which was greeted enthusiastically by sportfishing and boating leaders. ASA had urged the agency to develop a saltwater recreational fishing management policy and provided comments to inform the final policy. The first-of-its-kind, the National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy was one of the key recommendations of the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, of which ASA was a contributor.
Sportfishing Industry Leaders Meet with Congressional Members
This past April, recreational fishing industry leaders met with Members of Congress to advocate not just for the industry’s business interests, but for the entire recreational fishing community as part of the annual spring Government Affairs Committee meeting. Committee members met with more than two dozen Members of Congress or their staff, including leadership of key Congressional committees that oversee fisheries and natural resource management. Committee members are also ASA members and represent a wide spectrum of the industry and the sportfishing community.
“These positive efforts, and many others, have created a strong foundation for the future,” said Nussman. “We still have many significant legislative and policy issues to address in 2016 and beyond, such as passage of the Sportsmen’s Act; fixing the current mismanagement of Gulf of Mexico red snapper; and preventing unwarranted marine monument closures to recreational fishing.”
“Being successful in these areas and others will require an active and united recreational fishing community who are all pulling in the same direction,” Nussman concluded.