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Entries in ASA (20)

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.

Thursday
Oct102013

ASA Calls Shutdown of Lands and Waters 'Ludicrous'

A statement from the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is below. Right now, I’m compiling information from around the country about how anglers specifically and the public in general are being hurt by the government shutdown.

Check back here later to learn more.

By the way, the ASA stays away from blaming the Obama Administration directly for much of this. I’m not.

A government shutdown is one thing. But maliciously inflicting pain on the American people in a petulant snit is another. For much of what is happening now, the shutdown is just an excuse by this dictatorial administration because it believes that its opponents will be blamed for the harm that it is inflicting.

The feds are spending far more in money and manpower to keep people away from many areas than they normally do in terms of monitoring and maintenance for those areas. In fact, many of these places usually aren’t even staffed.

And, yes, I am going to go there. National Park Service rangers and other federal para-military staffers are acting like Gestapo. During the Nazi regime, lots of “good” Germans went along to get along.

That’s what is happening here, as federal employees do what they’re told instead of what’s right.

From ASA:

Millions of anglers are now locked out of federal lands and waters and thousands of small businesses are suffering because Congress and the Administration can’t agree on the nation’s finances.

According to the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), federal agencies across the nation are warning anglers that they are not permitted to use public waters managed by the federal government during the federal shutdown. A statement from one federal land management agency says, “…facilities and lands are now closed to the public and public use activities have been suspended nationwide.”

“This is ludicrous,” said ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson. “We understand that public facilities that require staffing, such as buildings and federally-operated marinas and hatcheries, are not open and that federal employees are not permitted to operate these facilities. But let’s face it, most of the federal areas used by anglers are undeveloped and the recreational user typically visits them many times without seeing a federal employee of any type.”

Robertson further said, “We know that many of the complaints being voiced to the Department of Interior are from angry anglers who have planned trips, spent money on plane tickets, guides, lodging and new equipment who now can’t make their trip.”

As the stalemate between the Administration and Congress continues, the damage to the recreation industry mounts. Federally-controlled waters have a sportfishing community support system that is comprised of lodging facilities, restaurants, guide services and bait and tackle shops, just to name a few of the services used by anglers. Sportfishing in the United States on federal lands supports more than 100,000 jobs, providing $984 million in federal taxes to the federal government and contributing $13.8 billion to the nation’s economy each year. 

“The public knows where staff is needed to manage facilities and developed areas and where they are not,” continued Robertson.

“More baffling are statements from federal agencies saying that law enforcement staff will be on hand to enforce the closure of these waters during this federal shutdown. For example, law enforcement staff in areas like Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park will be on hand to stop the public from entering park waters during the federal shutdown. Attempting to ban the public from areas of the ocean due to budgetary restrictions – while paying law enforcement officers to enforce the ban – defies logic and can only be viewed as intentionally burdensome. Where will the closures stop? Will the federal government close down the oceans' entire exclusive economic zone too?”

Aside from the edict from the federal government that all federally owned waters are closed to anglers and all outdoor enthusiasts, the impacts to conservation are considerable. Every day that passes represents approximately $2 million that doesn’t get spent on fisheries conservation and federal fish hatcheries that don’t meet their schedules for fish production. Not to mention the inability of thousands of federal conservation employees to do their job and an even greater number of volunteer fishery conservation efforts that fall by the wayside. The cost to fishery conservation is incalculable.

“Many segments of the economy are being damaged by the failure to come to agreement over the nation’s finances and the recreation community is not exempt,” concluded Robertson. “The American Sportfishing Association encourages anglers to go to Keep America Fishing and send a letter to their Members of Congress saying it is time to stop the shutdown and get the nation back on its financial track so resource conservation can move forward and the public can once again enjoy its public trust lands.”

Tuesday
Aug062013

Clough Retires as B.A.S.S. Conservation Director

Noreen Clough will leave behind a firm foundation when she retires as B.A.S.S. National Conservation Director this month.

“We have directors in 47 states and Canada. They are the real story of bass conservation,” she said. “They bring a huge variety of skill sets and do a far greater variety of work today than just habitat improvement.

“They are volunteers who give up some of their fishing time because they are passionate about conservation and fisheries, and the work that they do goes unknown by many.”

The same can be said of Clough, who served as National Conservation Director from 2004 to 2007 and again from 2011 until her retirement. But those who have worked with her do know of her enormous contributions to B.A.S.S. specifically, and fisheries generally.

“Noreen has been a rock and a voice of reason for a lot of important fisheries issues,” said Gordon Robertson, vice president of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). “She will be sorely missed, both as a friend and professionally.”

Todd Gentzel, Colorado’s state director, added that he would have been “in deep trouble dealing with some of these issues,” without Clough’s leadership.

One of the greatest assets that Clough brought to her position was decades of experience in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including as Deputy Assistant Director for Fisheries. In other words, she understood how things are done --- and not done--- in a bureaucracy. That proved invaluable as she partnered with the ASA, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council, and other advocacy groups.

“On any issue, Noreen never just criticized,” Robertson said. “She always had a thoughtful solution to offer. That’s a hallmark of high integrity. Anyone can just criticize.”

Clough is the fourth to serve as National Conservation Director since the position was created by former B.A.S.S. CEO Helen Sevier in the early 1990s. A retired fisheries biologist with the U.S. Forest Service, Al Mills began the work, building partnerships with state and federal agencies to improve fisheries.

Bruce Shupp followed.  Former fisheries chief for the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, he is most remembered for initiating a series of annual workshops about Largemouth Bass Virus (LMBV). At these professionally facilitated events, state, federal and university scientists and fisheries biologists shared evolving news and research regarding the virus.

If not for Shupp’s initiative, it’s not unreasonable to believe that panic would have ensued regarding the threat LMBV posed. The result could have been massive restrictions on bass fishing, especially tournaments.

“This was one of the best collaborative processes ever,” said Dave Terre, chief of management and research for Inland Fisheries at Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Clough took over in 2004, and then, in 2007, thought that she was ready to enjoy a life of leisure and travel, including fishing in Costa Rica. But her replacement, Chris Horton, moved on to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, and she stepped back in.

During her second term, the B.A.S.S. Nation system of state conservation directors has seen a Renaissance of sorts. Today, these volunteers arguably are more knowledgeable and skilled than ever before, and they have made their priorities about much more than trash cleanups and encouraging catch-and-release.  In addition to a variety of habitat work, they are involved legislatively, and, most importantly, they combat unwarranted attempts to restrict access and ban lead fishing tackle.

Not surprisingly, Clough takes none of the credit for this. She attributes their accomplishments to a “huge variety of skill sets” and said that they have become “very sophisticated.”

But state directors beg to differ.

Jim Cardillo, former Pennsylvania director, said she had a unique ability to concentrate the focus of state leaders “into one beam of intense magnitude to overwhelm any obstacle for the betterment and health of the bass we all love to catch.”

And Colorado’s Gentzel added, “She was always there to answer questions, and she worked tirelessly, sending us information and making sure that we stayed on top of issues,” he said. “She brought all of the CDs a lot closer with our conference calls, and she made this a lot easier for all of us. She will be missed greatly.”

Yes, she will.

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