Top Five Things You May Not Know We Do at KeepAmericaFishing
For those of us that work on KeepAmericaFishing we get asked regularly what exactly we do, besides send out emails requesting our supporters to take action on a particular issue. With that in mind we decided to write the top five things that we do at KeepAmericaFishing that our supporters might not know about.
We Lobby – yes, it’s a five letter word that people hate to hear but we lobby on behalf of the fishing industry and anglers alike, making sure that your issues are seen as important. I read an article a few months back that said lobbyists were less liked by the American people than Congressional members. I found that appalling but understandable. Lobbying is an important part of the government. A lobbyist is defined as “a person who tries to influence legislation on behalf of a special interest” and while that is a very simple definition, for KeepAmericaFishing it’s spot on. I prefer to say that we educate members of Congress on behalf of special interest groups, and that special interest group is you, the recreational anglers! This leads me to the next thing you might now know we’re doing here at KeepAmericaFishing…
We talk to your members of Congress – as lobbyists we are in the position to actually talk with your members of Congress regarding those issues that are affecting you and the fisheries resources we care about, and we do actually talk to the politician or their staff. I preferred to say that we educate because when we meet with Congressional members we go prepared with facts, economic data and statistics on recreational fishing. KeepAmericaFishing discusses issues with as much scientific and economic data as we can because in this day and age everyone wants to know how many jobs will this issue impact or what will happen to the local, state (and national) economies. A lot of the issues we talk about have a direct effect on something going on in your state. For example, the National Fish Habitat Partnership has projects or partnerships in every state in the U.S.; this is helpful when we go to talk about supporting the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act because we can give examples of fish restoration projects in that legislator’s own district or state.
We talk to your industry members – you know, the ones who make the line, lures, rods and other equipment that you use every time you go fishing. KeepAmericaFishing was created by the American Sportfishing Association, which is the recreational fishing industry’s trade association. We have good working relationships with our industry members and they want to see KeepAmericaFishing succeed – it was their brain child. Not only do we partner with the industry on premium items that you receive by donating to KeepAmericaFishing, the industry sees a different side on our issues. They can help influence how recreational fishing is perceived on Capitol Hill or in your state’s capitol buildings. Yes, they are business men and women but they are also anglers just like you.
We (meaning YOU!) influence policy – we may be chatting with Congressional members but it’s the letters you send in and the phone calls you make that influence policies and management plans nationwide. At the end or beginning of each week in most federal and state congressional offices, the legislator will receive a report on how many letters, emails or phone calls they received on a specific issue. The more they hear from their constituents (you) about a specific issue, the more likely they are to actively get involved or have their staff research the topic. If it is a topic that we have already talked with them about, then it is a reaffirmation that they need to decide how to take action and whether to support the issue or not. Legislators need to hear from you and hear your personal stories, like how closing an area to fishing will affect your kids and grandkids who want to fish there but may lose the opportunity and the family tradition if the area closes.
We fish – we might not be out on the water as often as we’d like – is anyone ever? – but we are all anglers ourselves and can relate to problems that you may be experiencing in your neck of the woods. Whether it’s spring, summer, fall or winter, we are constantly talking about what we caught after work or on last weekend’s outing. We were active participants in our KeepAmericaFishing Day and some of us caught our personal best that day!