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Entries in ASA (32)

Monday
Jun082015

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.  

Monday
May252015

Lead Ban Would Be Bad News for Anglers, Economy in California

 

Click on the photo for more information and to sign a petition against a ban on lead fishing tackle.

As California considers prohibiting fishing tackle that contains lead, zinc, and copper, a report by the California Coastal Conservation Association and the American Sportfishing Association  (ASA) reveals that banning traditional fishing tackle will diminish participation, which generates millions of dollars for fisheries conservation in the state.

 “While California ranks fifth in the nation in number of anglers, we are dead last in terms of per capita participation,” said Bill Shedd, chairman of the California Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association and President of AFTCO.

 “However, sportfishing is an important economic generator for our state, and banning lead tackle, as currently being considered by the state of California, is another burden that would increase the cost of fishing, hurt anglers and cost our economy millions of dollars in lost revenue and almost 2,600 jobs.”

Findings from surveys conducted of anglers and manufacturers by South Associates include the following:

  • A ban on lead fishing tackle would likely reduce angler activity in California, which would in turn negatively impact the recreational fishing industry and those whose livelihoods depend on it.
  • A survey of tackle manufacturers indicated that the price impact of producing lures, flies and terminal tackle with lead substitutes would double costs on average.
  • Only 25 percent of manufacturers surveyed indicated that it was even technically feasible to currently switch to non-lead substitutes.
  • If a lead ban were to cause prices to double for lures, flies and terminal tackle, the report says that approximately 5 percent of anglers would leave the sport or nearly 80,000 anglers.
  • The surveys used in the report also suggest that anglers who continue to fish, 18 percent would fish fewer days, each fishing 21 percent fewer days on average.
  • Combined with anglers leaving the sport, this would reduce total California angler days and expenditures in recreational fishing by two million fewer angler days, and $173 million in lost revenues.
  • The $173 million in recreational fishing revenues currently supports 2,582 jobs, $113.6 million in salaries and wages, $24.2 million in state and local tax revenue, and $26.4 million in federal tax revenues.

“This report shows that, in addition to the direct economic losses to recreational fishing-dependent businesses, fish and wildlife conservation programs in California would suffer as prices for tackle increase and overall fishing expenditures suffer,” said Scott Gudes, ASA’s vice president for Government Affairs.

“ Not many people realize that it is anglers who pay for California’s fishery conservation programs through fishing tackle excise taxes and license fees. A ban on lead tackle is not based on science. Anglers and conservation programs would be the losers.”

For more information about this and to sign a petition against a ban, visit the California Sportfishing League.

Wednesday
May132015

Study Reveals Economic Importance of Recreational Allocation

A recent report emphasizes the economic importance of recreational fishing and the wisdom of reviewing how the nation’s marine fisheries are allocated between the recreational and commercial sectors.

 “The Economic Gains from Reallocating Specific Saltwater Fisheries” uses estimates of economic contributions and the few fisheries valuation studies available in three mixed sector fisheries to examine the potential gains to be made by increasing the recreational allocation for specific species.

Key findings include the following:

  • Summer Flounder in the Mid-Atlantic: Recreational angler spending supported up to 25,450 jobs in 2011, compared to up to 4,665 jobs supported by commercial production.
  • Red Snapper in the Gulf of Mexico: Recreational fishing for red snapper contributes approximately four times more to the nation’s gross domestic product than commercial harvests.
  • Pacific Halibut from California to Washington: Recreational fishing for halibut provides nearly five times more jobs per pound harvested when compared to commercial harvests.

“This report demonstrates how allocating larger shares of specific fisheries to the recreational sector can increase economic activity to the overall benefit to the nation,” said Scott Gudes, Vice President for Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). “This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive analysis into these fisheries, but rather an examination based on available data. Further studies are needed, but these preliminary results are very compelling and demand at least a discussion on how our nation’s fisheries should be allocated.”

Despite the tremendous importance that allocation decisions have in maximizing the benefits that our fisheries provide to the nation, federal fisheries managers have not revisited allocations – most of which were determined decades ago – primarily because of a lack of clear guidance on how decisions should be made and because these decisions are inherently difficult.

On April 30, during the House of Representatives markup hearing on a bill sponsored by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), H.R. 1335, to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, an important amendment was offered by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) that would require the development of guidelines for consideration in allocation decisions and a periodic review of allocations in fisheries in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

“This report further reinforces the importance of Congressman Duncan’s amendment, which will provide a science-based path forward for examination of allocations,” said Mike Leonard, ASA’s Ocean Resource Policy Director. “ASA is grateful for Congressman Duncan’s leadership on behalf of the nation’s 11 million saltwater anglers and the 450,000 jobs they support.”

“Obviously there are many factors that need to be considered when determining allocations, and economic value is one of those key factors,” continued Leonard. “It is our hope that this report helps facilitate discussion and examination into the factors that need to go into these important decisions.”

Produced by ASA and Southwick Associates,  the report was introduced at the American Boating Congress, an annual legislative conference co-hosted by organizations from all segments of the boating and fishing industries. 

Monday
May112015

Lawmakers Recognize Recreational Fishing Priorities, But Not Call to Transfer Red Snapper Management to States

A bill that addresses top priorities of the recreational fishing community has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources. Sponsored by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), H.R. 1335, also reauthorizes  the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA).

But lawmakers failed to include an amendment offered by Congressman Garret Graves (R-Louisiana) that would transfer management Gulf of Mexico red snapper to the five Gulf states failed to be included. Several committee members agreed, however, that Gulf red snapper management is broken and in need of significant changes.

“We hope that as MSA moves forward there will be additional opportunities to enact the Gulf states' plan,” said Patrick Murray, president of the Coastal Conservation Association. “MSA’s reauthorization surely has a long road ahead, but H.R. 1335 provides the recreational fishing community with a very solid first step.”

The priorities addressed originally were identified by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, also known as the Morris-Deal Commission in honor of co-chairs Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boats.

Recommendations of the Morris-Deal Commission include the following:

  •  Establishing a national policy for recreational fishing
  • Adopting a revised approach to saltwater recreational fisheries management
  • Allocating marine fisheries for the greatest benefit to the nation
  • Creating reasonable latitude in stock rebuilding timelines
  • Codifying a process for cooperative management
  • Managing for the forage base

“The nation’s 11 million saltwater recreational anglers have a $70 billion economic impact annually and support 450,000 jobs,” said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association.

“However, federal marine fisheries management has never sufficiently acknowledged the importance of recreational fishing to the nation. H.R. 1335 would enact many of the necessary changes to elevate saltwater recreational fishing to the level it deserves.”

One of the recommendations of the Morris-Deal Commission was addressed by an amendment offered by Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-South Carolina) that would prompt a review of quota allocations in fisheries in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico with both a commercial and recreational component. Despite the tremendous importance that allocation decisions have in maximizing the benefits that our fisheries provide to the nation, federal fisheries managers have not revisited allocations – most of which were determined decades ago – primarily because of a lack of clear guidance on how decisions should be made and because these decisions are inherently difficult.

“Congressman Duncan's amendment is a significant achievement for ensuring that the benefits of our nation's fisheries are maximized,” said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “For far too long, allocations have been rusted shut, and we applaud Congressman Duncan for his leadership on this critically important issue.”

Wednesday
Apr292015

Industry Leaders Advocate for Legislation on Behalf of Anglers

Fishing industry leaders met recently with members of Congress or their staff to advocate for issues of concern to the industry and anglers nationwide.

 Issues discussed with included passage of the Sportsmen’s Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act reauthorization and reauthorization of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. Key regional issues  included the proposed marine reserve in Biscayne National Park (Florida), impacts of the drought on California salmon and federal mismanagement of Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper, which impacts the entire Gulf area.

“This was a great opportunity for our members and legislators to meet face-to-face and talk about issues of critical importance to the sportfishing industry,” said Scott Gudes, vice president of Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA).

“Our elected officials need to hear first-hand from industry leaders from across the country about the importance of salt and freshwater recreational fishing to the economy, to jobs and to conservation to help ensure that our sport is enjoyed by future generations.”

The ASA Government Affairs Committee consists of 30 individuals, representing a wide array of industry members from across the country. The committee meets twice a year to discuss key legislative and regulatory issues affecting the industry and to guide ASA’s positions and activities regarding these issues.

During its meeting, the Government Affairs Committee passed a motion to develop a comprehensive education campaign on the important role anglers and boaters play in fisheries conservation funding. Working with partners in the recreational fishing community, the campaign will target fisheries managers, legislators and the general public to raise awareness of the more than $1 billion that anglers and boaters contribute annually to fisheries conservation and public access projects through fishing license fees and excise taxes.