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Entries in ASA (22)

Thursday
Jul312014

Sport Fishing Advocate Retires With Warning for Anglers

Gordon Robertson, retiring vice president and lead for government affairs at American Sportfishing Association

First, I was saddened to learn that recreational fishing’s champion in Washington, D.C., was retiring, effective June 30. Then he told me something that disturbed me even more.

“The angler’s image as a conservationist needs to be rescued,” said Gordon Robertson, who officially stepped down June 30 from his post as a vice president and lead for government affairs at the American Sportfishing Association (ASA).

“Conservation once meant wise use of our natural resources,” he continued. “The word ‘conservation’ has been hijacked by the preservationist community and now policy makers don’t see anglers as conservationists.”

Instead, many politicians now view groups such as the Ocean Conservancy, the Sierra Club, and the Natural Resources Defense Council as having “conservation” agendas. Unless we reclaim what is ours through vocal activism, we will suffer loss of access and angling opportunities. As a consequence, the health of aquatic resources will suffer, because recreational fishermen are the nation’s first and foremost conservationists.

On the positive side, Robertson, who spent a dozen years at ASA, pointed out that recreational fishing continues to enjoy “an enormously positive image” among the public. We must capitalize on that, he added, “to make better habitat, more anglers, and an even stronger image.”

The West Virginia native also cautioned that we should not neglect working with the environmental community when we do share common interests on broad issues, such as water quality. “We need to strike a relationship that fosters those bigger accomplishments while gaining recognition for the role of the angler in conservation,” he said.

What I’ll remember Robertson most for was his leadership in creation of the Keep America Fishing (KAF) program in 2010. It’s now the largest angler advocacy group in the country, representing more than one million.

As KAF coordinated efforts to combat efforts to ban lead fishing tackle and restrict access, Robertson learning something that helped convince him that the image of the angler as a conservationist needs to be revitalized. “Too many anglers are apathetic and geographic,” he said.

“Some issues, like lead, resonate better than others. But collectively we need to think about the future of the sport.”

That’s just what Robertson did during his years with ASA, according to those who worked with him, including two former national conservation directors for B.A.S.S.

“Gordon Robertson has done more for anglers and sportfishing in this country than most will ever know,” said Noreen Clough. “Among other things, in his quiet but extremely effective way, he guided the last reauthorization of federal legislation that provides funding for Wallop-Breaux federal (Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program), which makes significant grants to states to manage their fisheries and fishing programs.”

She added that his ability “to work effectively on Capitol Hill, even in this climate, is testimony to his political savvy and patience.”

Bruce Shupp added, “Gordon, and his predecessors, were always the first, best, and most important contact for me to get B.A.S.S. engaged in the most effective way to advocate and/or combat issues affecting the resource and industry.”

Both during his time at B.A.S.S. and as New York fisheries chief, Shupp said, “Gil Radonski, Norville Prosser, and Gordon filled the same ASA role. They were all excellent at their jobs, served the industry very well, and are among the most respected professionals I had the pleasure of working with. I hope ASA will find a similar caliber replacement.”

In that regard, ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman pointed out that Robertson “set a high bar when it came to professional excellence, which had a significant influence on everyone with whom he worked. His ability to work with Congress and federal and state agencies on complex resource issues is unparalleled.”

Fortunately for anglers, Robertson won’t step away immediately from ASA. Working a reduced schedule, he will continue to assist with on-going projects, as well as in the search for his replacement.

Whoever is selected to replacement him, however, certainly will have big boat shoes to fill.

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)

Friday
May302014

Magnuson-Stevens Needs to Address Goals, Needs of Recreational Anglers

Photo by Robert Montgomery

As Congress considers changes in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), a coalition of angling advocate groups says that not enough consideration is being given to recreational fishing.

“Since its inception, the Magnuson-Stevens Act has focused primarily on commercial fisheries to the detriment of the nation’s 11 million recreational fishermen and the nearly half a million jobs they support,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation.

“Revising the law in a way that incorporates the goals and needs of anglers is long overdue. Our community has put forward the policy changes that will set the foundation for an effective saltwater fisheries management system, but we need Congress’ help by enacting these common sense and non-partisan policies.”

The recommendations offered by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, commonly known as 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

MSA is the primary law governing management of marine fisheries, and critics argue that On May 30, the House Natural Resources Committee approved a reauthorization bill, H.R. 4742, also entitled the “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act.”

 “While we appreciate Chairman Doc Hasting’s interest and efforts in Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization, we would like to have seen more done in this bill to address the needs of the recreational fishing community,” said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association.

“This bill includes several provisions that we support, such as easing the strict implementation of annual catch limits and improving stock assessments for data poor fisheries, but unfortunately our top priorities are not meaningfully addressed.”

“In addition to overlooking the priorities of the Morris-Deal Commission, we are also disappointed that the federal management failure with red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico is not resolved in H.R. 4742,” added Patrick Murray, president of the Coastal Conservation Association.

“A comprehensive overhaul of red snapper management is the only way to get us out of this mess. It’s vital that Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization addresses this management train-wreck by transferring Gulf red snapper management over to the states, which are much better equipped to successfully manage this important fishery.”

After passing out of committee, H.R. 4742 now awaits a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives. The Senate Commerce Committee is expected to unveil its Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization bill in the near future. With limited floor time before the November elections, many experts believe that full Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization may not occur until the next session of Congress.

“We understand that Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization likely has a long road ahead before a final bill gets signed into law, so we are hopeful that working with our friends in Congress, we can get the recreational fishing and boating community’s priorities addressed,” said Angers.

“We’ve been waiting a long time to bring focus toward improving saltwater recreational fisheries management, and there’s too much at stake to let this reauthorization pass without making the necessary changes that will establish a management system that works for – not against – recreational fishermen.”

Thursday
Mar272014

Policy Proposed to Promote, Preserve Saltwater Fishing

As Congress considers changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation Act, a commission of outdoors leaders offers a blueprint for ensuring the future of saltwater recreational fishing.

"Congress should establish a national policy to promote saltwater recreational fishing,” said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association. “In addition, Congress must open the ‘rusted-shut’ door of marine fisheries allocation to achieve the greatest benefit to the nation.”

“The Magnuson-Stevens Act established a management system for commercial fisheries, which has made great strides in ending commercial overexploitation of our marine fisheries,” added Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “However, for more than three decades it has focused primarily on commercial fishing. It’s time for Congress to do something for saltwater recreational fishing.”

Recommendations in A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries 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

“Our commission offers a clear path to better stewardship of America’s marine fishery resources,” said Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops at a presentation earlier this week. “Today we ask Congress to join us on that path. We extend the invitation on behalf of all current anglers and future generations of anglers who will enjoy our nation’s resources for many years to come.”

“This is the first time that the recreational fishing and boating community has set forth a comprehensive vision,” said Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boats and co-chair with Morris of the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries. “I’m honored to be a part of this effort and proud to help lead our collective industries in ensuring that Congress hears our voices.”

The economic impact of saltwater angling in the U.S. is considerable. In 2011, approximately 11 million Americans saltwater fished recreationally, spending $27 billion in pursuit of their sport. That activity generated more than $70 billion in economic output and sustained 450,000 jobs. Anglers contribute more than $1.5 billion annually to fisheries habitat and conservation via excise taxes, donations and license fees alone.

Contributors to the Commission’s recommendations included the following:

American Sportfishing Association
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Berkley Conservation Institute
Center for Coastal Conservation
Coastal Conservation Association
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
National Marine Manufacturers Association
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Bass Pro Shops
Maverick Boats

Friday
Jan172014

Facts About Recreational Fishing from American Sportfishing Association

There are approximately 60 million anglers in the U.S. of which 46 million are estimated to fish in a given year.

• One of every four anglers fishes in saltwater.

• Fishing tackle sales grew over 16 percent in the past five years.

• Since 2006, angler numbers grew 11 percent.

• More Americans fish than play golf (21 million) and tennis (13 million) combined.

• If fishing were a company, the amount spent by anglers to support fishing-related retail sales would rank number 51 on the Fortune 500™ list.

•Fishing generated more revenue ($48 billion) than Lockheed Martin ($47 billion), Intel ($44 billion), Chrysler ($42 billion) or Google ($38 billion).

• The economic activity generated by sportfishing is greater than the economy, measured in Gross State Product, of 17 states.

• At more than 46 million anglers, more than twice the number of people fished in 2011 than attended every NFL game combined.

These statistics were provided by Southwick Associates and are available in Sportfishing in America: An Economic Force Conservation.

Monday
Oct282013

Louisiana's Vitter Calls Out NOAA for Failure in Managing Fisheries

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) is pushing back against NOAA’s failure to implement its own allocation policies and to provide leadership and direction to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. He says that he will “hold” the nominee to lead that agency until it agrees to address its responsibilities.

Even though the recreational fishery for red snapper is worth far more to the economy than the commercial, sports anglers are allocated just 49 percent of the catch, based on data from the 1980s. Back then, bycatch of juvenile red snapper by shrimp trawlers caused the recreational catch to decline by 87 percent.

“It shouldn’t have to come to this,” said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association.  “After all, NOAA is an agency charged with managing our public marine resources in a manner to achieve the greatest benefits to the nation and there is no way to manage any fishery to achieve that goal when the managing agency insists on adhering to an allocation that was set using catch history from the 1980s.  

“We really appreciate Senator Vitter stepping in to make NOAA Fisheries do its job.”

“Given all the turbulence surrounding Gulf red snapper over the past several years, it is past time to look at the fundamental underpinnings of how we manage this fishery,” added Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association.  “Ignoring the problem is irresponsible.”

The Secretary of Commerce is legally obligated, along with the Fishery Management Councils, to establish procedures to ensure a fair and equitable allocation of fish harvest for Gulf red snapper – and every other federally managed fishery.  The Obama Administration three years ago committed to review guidelines for implementing fair and equitable allocations.  While some preliminary work has been done to develop options for moving forward with allocation reviews, so far, neither NOAA nor any Council has produced such guidelines. 

“Federal managers simply must address allocation,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation.  “Our system of federal fisheries management is broken to a point where a United States Senator is compelled to force a federal agency to do a fundamental part of its job.  We support Sen. Vitter’s continued efforts to make government act responsibly.”

Read more here.