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Entries in access (39)


BASS, Other Groups Urge Restoration of Funding for Fisheries 

B.A.S.S., along with 30 other conservation organizations, has signed a letter urging Congress to restore funding for sportfishing projects suffering under the current federal budget impasse.

“The letter asks Congress to get off ‘high center’ and do its job, pass a budget and fund conservation programs,” said B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland, “especially including the Sport Fish Restoration Act which is the most important bill up for reauthorization from the freshwater fisheries management standpoint.”

The letter to leaders and members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, was sent Tuesday afternoon on behalf of 31 conservation organizations. It stated:
“The undersigned sportsmen, conservation, outdoor recreation business and resource professional organizations, collectively representing millions of American hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts would like to urge the Congress to start in earnest the process of a bipartisan and bicameral budget deal that lifts the sequester and can begin to reinvest in absolutely critical conservation funding priorities.
“As you know, the expiration of the Murray-Ryan budget deal in just a few short months raises the distinct possibility of a return to sequester-level funding for the domestic discretionary programs that are essential to so many segments of economic growth and job creation. When it comes to the outdoor recreation economy, Budget Control Act funding levels are simply inadequate, and in many cases push a backlog of costs onto future generations of Americans.
“As conservation has shrunk as a percentage of the federal budget by half from 1978 until today, the outdoor recreation economy has continued to grow; but that phenomenon is unlikely to endure. If investments in recreation, habitat restoration, access improvement, and facility maintenance continue to fall, we can likely expect the health of the American $646 billion outdoor recreation economy, which employs millions, and puts billions into federal, state, and local tax coffers to suffer.
“The impact of insufficient funding is clear: shuttered visitor’s centers, unmaintained trails, closed campgrounds, reduced staff, and degraded habitat. These reductions in service keep Americans from enjoying the outdoors to their fullest potential, and in so doing, unnecessarily constrain an entire segment of the American economy, perhaps most pointedly in the rural countryside most dependent on the annual spending of hunters and anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

"Furthermore, the Wildlife Restoration and Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Funds (Trust Funds) are a user pays – public benefits system of fish and wildlife conservation derived from hunters, recreational shooters, anglers and boaters instead of federal income tax dollars. As mandatory programs, the Trust Funds are already being sequestered, and the sequestration rate is expected to increase to 8.5 percent in FY2016. These Trust Funds are the lifeblood of many state resource agency operating budgets, and any bipartisan budget deal should address the issue of sequestering these critical trust funds.

“Many of our organizations applauded the Murray-Ryan budget deal, and likewise we stand ready to support the next iteration of the bipartisan budget leadership necessary to keep American outdoor traditions alive for many future generations.”
Among other fishing and hunting organizations signing onto the letter were the American Fisheries Society, American Sportfishing Association, Berkley Conservation Institute, Coastal Conservation Association, Ducks Unlimited, Izaak Walton League of America, National Wild Turkey Federation and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.


Feds Ban Fishing, Restrict Boating in Biscayne National Park

Not surprisingly, the National Park Service (NPS) has just announced that it intends to eliminate sport fishing and severely restrict boating in more than 10,000 acres of Biscayne National Park, as a part of its General Management Plan. 

“Today’s announcement confirms that Biscayne National Park officials never had any real interest in working with stakeholders or the state of Florida to explore compromise plans,” said Mike Leonard, ocean resource policy director for the American Sportfishing Association.

 “The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, one of the nation’s leading fisheries management agencies, has stated that a marine reserve is far too restrictive, and that other management measures can achieve resource goals while still allowing for public access. The only conclusion that one can draw from this decision is that the public is simply not welcome at Biscayne National Park.”

The move is not surprising because the NPS did much the same thing at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area about five years ago. Extensive areas were closed to the public, with off-road vehicle access severely limited at one of the premier surf fishing locations on the East Coast.

It’s long past time to wake up to the fact that the NPS is not a friend to anglers specificially and outdoor recreationists in general. A Washington, D.C. insider once told Activist Angler that the anonymous bureaucrats in that agency have no regard for fishermen and would like nothing better than to restrict public access in our national parks to auto tours.

Go here to sign a petition opposing the Biscayne fishing ban.

“America’s  recreational fishing community is disheartened by the National Park Service’s decision to implement a marine reserve at Biscayne National Park,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation.

 “We understand the importance of protecting our natural resources and the delicate balance needed to ensure that anglers and boaters are able to enjoy these public waters. However, the National Park Service has shown little interest in compromise and today’s announcement confirms a lack of desire to include the needs of park users and stakeholders in important decisions such as this.”

For the past several years, a large coalition of partners in the recreational boating and fishing community has submitted comments, attended public meetings and organized discussions with the leadership at the National Park Service in an attempt to balance the critical need for conservation with the need for recreational access to the park’s waters. Numerous fisheries management measures were presented to the National Park Service that would balance resource conservation with maintaining public access, including size limits, bag limits, quotas, permits, seasonal closures and gear restrictions.

“Anglers recognize that the condition of the fisheries resources in Biscayne National Park needs to be addressed, but we also know that once an area is closed, the public will never be allowed back in,” said Jeff Miller, chairman of Coastal Conservation Association Florida’s Government Relations Committee.

 “These decisions should happen only when clearly supported by science, and when all other management options have failed. By not giving other, less restrictive options a chance, the National Park Service has put Florida’s reputation as ‘Fishing Capital of the World’ at stake.”

To read the most recent public comments submitted by the recreational boating and fishing community to the National Park Service on this issue, click here.  


Future of Saltwater Fishing Is at Stake; Speak Up Now to Ensure Access

Next week, marine fisheries management will be the focus of Congress. Don’t assume your representative will cast his or her vote in favor of recreational fishing – ask him/her to do so today. 

Bill H.R. 1335 will be voted on by the entire U.S. House of Representatives. Its intent is to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act – the law that governs how our marine fisheries are managed. Proper management equals healthy fisheries – and that means more days on the water for you and your family. 

H.R. 1335 includes several provisions to improve fishing’s future. Specifically, it would improve recreational fishing data collection, ensure marine fisheries are fairly allocated and stop unnecessary closures based on arbitrary limits. 

In addition, several amendments that will further improve the bill will also be considered.  

Tell your Representative to Vote ‘yes’ on these amendments, and ‘yes’ on H.R. 1335! Go here to send your message.

Here's why your support is needed:

Saltwater recreational fishing has a $70 billion impact on our nation's economy, supporting 454,000 jobs. However, despite the tremendous economic, social and conservation benefits that recreational fishing provides to the nation, the Magnuson-Stevens Act has never fully addressed the needs of the nation's 11 million saltwater anglers. H.R. 1335 would help to turn the tide, and would be further improved by the inclusion of amendments to be considered on the House floor.

H.R. 1335 advances saltwater recreational fisheries management.  The current bill would benefit recreational fishing by:
  • Prompting a transparent and science-based review of fishery allocations in the southeast.
  • Providing limited exceptions for establishing annual catch limits to help ensure important fisheries aren't unnecessarily closed.
  • Improving recreational data collection through greater involvement of the states.
The following three amendments are strongly supported by the recreational fishing community:
  • An amendment by Rep. Wittman (R-Va.) that gives NOAA Fisheries the authority to implement management practices better tailored to the nature of recreational fishing.
  • An amendment by Rep. Graves (R-La.) to transfer management of Gulf of Mexico red snapper to the five Gulf states, which are capable of sustainably managing this fishery while allowing for reasonable public access.
  • An amendment by Rep. Young (R-Alaska) that will improve fisheries science by better incorporating data collected by anglers into management.




Senate Tries Again to Enact Sportsman's Act

Legislation beneficial to anglers has been introduced in Congress by a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators

"The number one issue for sportsmen and women across the country is access. This widely supported, bipartisan bill will open more areas to hunting and fishing and grow America's thriving outdoor recreation economy,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.

"The bipartisan Sportsman's Act is not only an access bill, but also a way to promote economic growth in our country. Sportsmen and women across the country spend billions of dollars each year on outdoor activities,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.  

"This commonsense, bipartisan legislation supports conservation efforts while also improving access to recreational hunting and fishing on federal lands."

The Sportman’s Act of 2015 includes 14 provisions, several similar to those within the  Sportsmen's Act of 2014 from the 113th Congress. Importantly, the bill makes the existing exemption from EPA regulation for lead shot permanent, and adds lead tackle to the exempted products, leaving regulatory authority to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state fish and wildlife agencies.

Also, the bill requires federal land managers to consider how management plans affect opportunities to engage in hunting, fishing and recreational shooting; enables states to allocate a greater proportion of federal funding to create and maintain shooting ranges on federal and non-federal lands; and directs 1.5 percent of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to enhancing public recreational access for hunting, angling, and recreational shooting, otherwise known as Making Public Lands Public (MPLP).

“This bipartisan package contains many important provisions that are largely non-controversial and that will advance fisheries conservation and recreational fishing access for the benefit of the nation’s 60 million anglers,” said American Sportfishing President and CEO Mike Nussman. “Recreational fishing supports 828,000 jobs and contributes $115 billion to the economy annually. This monumental legislative package will greatly enhance recreational fishing’s social, economic and conservation benefits to the nation.”

Previous versions of the Sportsmen’s Act failed to pass the U.S. Senate in 2012 and 2014, primarily due to partisan disputes unrelated to the merits of the bill. With strong commitments from leadership on both sides of the aisle, ASA expressed optimism about the bill being enacted in the 114th Congress.

“Our community remains dedicated to the passage of the Sportsmen’s Act, and we are hopeful that the third time will be the charm,” said Nussman. “We want to give special thanks to Senators Murkowski and Heinrich and their staffs for swift bipartisan progress, and we look forward to working with them and the other original co-sponsors as this legislation goes through the committee process and ultimately to the floor of the U.S. Senate.”

Nussman added, “We believe the Sportsmen’s Act could be greatly strengthened by the addition of the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act. This bipartisan bill has strong support from the sportfishing community and it would bring tremendous value to the overall package by adding a much needed fisheries habitat component. ASA will actively support inclusion of this measure into the package during the coming legislative process.”

More information on Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015, as well as an action alert to contact Senators in support of the bill, can be found at Keep America Fishing


Council 'Shafts' Recreational Anglers as It Creates Sector Separation

As the Fishing Rights Alliance (FRA) so eloquently put it, recreational anglers “just got the shaft.”

That’s because the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council ignored the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) and massive opposition from the public to pass Amendment 40, which creates “sector separation” for the red snapper fishery.

The recreational quota for red snapper in federal waters now will be divided between “for-hire” and private anglers. And guess who’s getting the lion’s share of that quota?

“While the council's vote created the two new components, the recreational sector's 5.39 million-pounds share of the 11 million-pounds Gulfwide red snapper quota will not be split right down the middle,” says

“Preliminary estimates suggest the for-hire component will be allocated about 40 percent of the total, based on 50 percent of their landings between 1986 and 2013 and 50 percent between 2006 and 2013.”

In other words, if you are an angler with your own boat, you might as well forget about fishing for red snapper in the Gulf for at least the next three years.

"It's very disappointing that you have this level of opposition from anglers, elected officials, state fishery managers and even within the charter industry itself and it still wasn't enough to prevent this flawed management plan from moving forward," says Ted Venker, Conservation Director of the Coastal Conservation Association.

But not at all surprising, coming from an administration that wants to regulate every aspect of our lives, including when and where we can fish. That was evident early on when President Obama created the National Ocean Council, with the intent to “zone” uses of our waters, including inland. And when NOAA began pushing Catch Shares as a management strategy for our fisheries.

Catch Shares basically privatizes a public resource, and “segment separation” is a tactic that the feds used to divide and conquer the recreational sector, as some charter captains bought into the idea. (Catch Shares, though, isn't yet being used to manage red snapper.)

The FRA, however, says, “This ain’t over until we say it’s over,” and vows to fight the amendment. Go here to join the fight.

Here’s an excerpt of the CSC’s letter to the Council:

The suddenly accelerated speed at which the Council seeks to subdivide the recreational red snapper fishery into two individual components or “sectors” is unacceptable for an action that will likely have far reaching impacts on local communities, the economy, state-based conservation funding, thousands of recreational anglers, and ultimately the charter/for-hire industry for which it is meant to help.

A decision of this magnitude requires careful deliberation and calculated safeguards to ensure that the best interest of the American public is first and foremost. Furthermore, there are several concerns regarding

potential statutory violations that must be fully explored and resolved before moving forward with any such fundamental change to the interpretation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the way we manage marine recreational fisheries in the United States.

We fear thorough analysis of these concerns has not been sufficiently undertaken by NOAA Fisheries or the Council relative to Amendment 40.

It is difficult to understand why red snapper management is so unique that it requires such a radical departure from methods that have successfully managed the vast majority of our fish and terrestrial wildlife resources. Indications are that the red snapper stock is recovering well ahead of schedule, which suggests that the current problems with red snapper are not biological, but rather man-made.

It appears that some failure of our federal fisheries policy is producing a system in which access to a healthy fishery resource is being funneled through fewer and fewer entities. Unnecessarily restricting public access to a sustainable resource is an undesirable and untenable result for any wildlife resource management system, and one that should be avoided at all costs.