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Entries in ASA (33)

Wednesday
Jul082015

California Could Ban Lead, Zinc, Copper Fishing Tackle

Unless public outcry forces a reversal by the California Department of Toxic Substances (CDTS),  the state is moving ahead with regulations that could ban fishing gear that contains lead, zinc, and copper. This follows quickly after the recent announcement that lead ammunition will not be allowed on state property and for all bighorn sheep hunting.

“It appears that politics, rather than science, was the basis for CDTS’s decision. While there are many sources of pollution that pose a serious threat to California’s ocean and streams, anglers are not among them,” said David Dickerson, president of the California Sportfishing League (CSL), which is spearheading opposition to the potential ban.

An environmental attorney and former CDTS director added that sellers and retailers of fishing tackle likely will be subjected to costly and onerous regulations, as well as potential fines.

“The result could be a wide range of enforcement options requiring restrictions or bans on sale, product reformulation, additional environmental impact studies, development of disposal programs, or funding for fundamental research and development,” said Maureen Gorsen. “The bottom line is that the cost of manufacturing fishing gear will increase significantly and these costs will be passed on to consumers.”

CDTS’s intentions were revealed in its draft of a Priority Product Work Plan for the Green Chemistry Initiative, which identifies seven product types, including fishing gear, for regulation and/or ban. Legislation authorizing the initiative was passed in 2008, but implementation was delayed for more than five years because of complexity and the potential for massive costs to small businesses, according to John Kabateck, California executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

“Green Chemistry is yet another example of Sacramento pursuing its agenda of environmental extremism without any concern for costs to consumers or California’s economic future,” he wrote in the Sacramento Business Journal in 2013.

 “The department has issued a broad proposal that will enable it to regulate the manufacturing and distribution of any product it chooses that could impose unworkable burdens on tens of thousands of small businesses in the state.”

And CDTS is doing so with fishing tackle even though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced in 2010 that lead gear does not pose an unreasonable risk to wildlife.  Also, a recently passed budget bill contains a provision to prohibit the use of federal dollars to ban lead fishing tackle.

In public hearings, the department admitted that it has no scientific studies to show that lead poses an environmental problem in California, added Dickerson. “State regulators failed to comply with state law that requires them to conduct an independent analysis before including any product in this regulatory process,” he said.

The CSL president predicted that additional regulations will encourage businesses to flee California to more business friendly states. “Furthermore, when fishing is no longer an accessible and affordable source of recreation for millions of anglers, it will have a substantial impact on California’s economy and jobs.”

A recent CSL study revealed that fishing license sales have dropped more than 55 percent since 1980, with the state ranking last nationally in fishing participation by percentage of its population.

“The high cost of fishing licenses and unwarranted limits on fishing have contributed to a significant decline in participation,” Dickerson said. “Increasing the cost of gear and potential bans will only accelerate the decline, and threaten California jobs that are dependent on outdoor recreation and tourism.”

In addition to CSL, others lobbying for delisting of fishing gear include the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Travel Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, the California Parks Hospitality Association, the California Association for Recreational Fishing, the American Sportfishing Association,  and Coastside Fishing Club.

Anglers who want to voice their opposition to a lead ban can sign at petition on CSL’s website.

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

 

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.”