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Entries in Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (24)

Thursday
Jul172014

Feds Threaten Recreational Red Snapper Fishery

Recreational fishing for red snapper in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico could become a thing of the past if anglers don't stand up and voice their outrage over a proposal by the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council. Even worse, if the council is not stopped, a precedent will be set and a model established for privatizing other sport fisheries in public waters.

This is the good ol' Catch Shares scheme that Activist Angler has been warning about for several years.

Here is what the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation has to say:

Federal management of Gulf red snapper is allowing only nine recreational fishing days in 2014 for a variety of reasons, including overly rigid statutory requirements, lawsuits and political influence by commercial and environmental organizations.

Rather than work to develop real solutions to the challenges facing recreational red snapper management, the Council is proposing to create further division and infighting among stakeholders by subdividing the recreational sector. The recreational fishing community has a small window of time to stop this troubling amendment from moving forward, but we must organize and act quickly.

And here's a joint statement from the sportfishing industry

The Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council is currently moving ahead on a proposed amendment that will pit segments of the recreational fi shing community against each other without addressing the fundamental problems with recreational red snapper management.

Amendment 40, also known as “sector separation”, will divide the recreational angler’s 49% share of the snapper fishery roughly in half between private recreational anglers and charter-for-hire and head boat owners (even though many charter boat owners don’t support dividing the recreational catch).

Federal management of Gulf red snapper has been brought to such an abysmal point of only 9 recreational days in 2014 for a variety of reasons, including overly rigid statutory requirements, lawsuits and political influence by commercial and environmental organizations. Rather than work to develop real solutions to the challenges facing recreational red snapper management, the Council is proposing to create further division and infighting among stakeholders by subdividing the recreational sector. The recreational fishing community has a small window of time to stop this troubling amendment from moving forward, but we must mobilize and act quickly.

Call to Action – The next two Gulf Council meetings will decide the fate of our access to our fishery, and these meetings are our last chance to turn the tide. You need to be there for the day of the public hearing (TBD) and speak out against sector separation. Visit Keep America Fishing for updates on the day and time for the critical public testimony.

August 25 - 29, 2014

Beau Rivage

875 Beach Blvd.

Biloxi, MS 39530

 

October 20 - 24, 2014

Renaissance Battle House

26 N. Royal Street

Mobile, AL 36602

 

When it comes to Council decisions, personal testimony at the meetings can be the deciding factor. Attend the public hearings and speak against dividing the recreational component into two different sectors because:

• Dividing the recreational sector further by expanding the commercial model to half of the recreational sector isn’t a solution, it’s a recipe for more hardships with many charter boat owners and all private recreational anglers. The solution is not to divide the recreational community, but to collectively push for a system of management that is appropriate for the entire recreational sector.

• Despite what the commercial industry and environmental groups proclaim, recreational anglers (both private and for-hire components) have been “accountable." We abide by the regulations and do what we are asked to do. It’s the federal system of fisheries management that has been “unaccountable” and failed the recreational community as a whole.

This type of management philosophy, for all practical purposes, will effectively eliminate the red snapper recreational season in federal waters for the private angler. It will be nearly impossible for someone to trailer their boat to the Gulf or schedule vacation around what will likely be two or three days of snapper season.

NOAA Fisheries has failed to provide any credible analysis of the economic impacts of this course of management.

This isn’t just a threat for Gulf of Mexico red snapper anglers. If the red snapper recreational component in the Gulf is allowed to be divided and privatized, it will set a precedent and create a model for other popular sportfish fisheries in the Gulf and along a coast near you.

Tuesday
Mar252014

Conservation Directors 'Energized' by Summit

Conservation is a priority for B.A.S.S. and its members, as evidenced by this habitat work at Georgia's Lake Allatoona by the Marietta BassMasters. Photo by Dale McPherson.

As the new National Conservation Director for B.A.S.S., Gene Gilliland’s first Conservation Summit was a stimulating success, according to state directors who attended during Bassmaster Classic week here.

“Some of our sessions were very educational and others were just intense, as we gathered our thoughts about where we need to go from here,” said New Mexico’s Earl Conway, winner of the Conservation Director of the Year Award.

 “I left very energized with new perspectives about our goals.”

West Virginia’s Jerod Harman added, “Because every person involved brought his A-game,”there honestly was not  one single thing that really stands above the rest throughout the Summit.  Speaking on behalf of the B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Directors in attendance, we are really looking forward to taking our new-found knowledge back to our states and getting to work!”

Gilliland, meanwhile, did highlight a time Friday, when the tone was set for the program. That was when B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin stopped by to speak for 15 minutes, but ended up staying for an hour to talk about promoting the organization and its conservation work, especially through partnerships.

“He answered all of their questions and they appreciated that,” the National Conservation Director said. “That set the stage and encouraged everyone that conservation has the support of management.”

The first-day “business session” also included an update about the college and high school programs from Tournament Manager Jon Stewart and insights from B.A.S.S. Social Media and B.A.S.S. Nation Editor Tyler Reed on providing content for articles and updates.

Saturday began with a presentation by Gordon Robertson from the American Sportfishing Association and Chris Horton from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. They encouraged the 30 or conservation directors, and a nearly equal number of state fisheries chiefs and biologists, to better communicate with one another. They also reminded conservation directors that their jobs include dealing with political issues, Gilliland said.

Later in the morning, Jim Martin of the Berkley Conservation Institute led a brainstorming session about how to move the conservation agenda into cooperative ventures, looking at the bigger issues, including watersheds, water quality, and access.

“It was a very engaging discussion, with a lot of good ideas that helped energize people,” the National Conservation Director said.

Following lunch sponsored by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Mike Netherland from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Craig Martin from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service updated attendees about issues related to invasive plants and aquatic life.

Sunday featured  a grant-writing seminar that Harman described as “fantastic.” Chris Edmonston of the BoatUS Foundation emphasized attention to detail and shared specifics for writing winning proposals.

During lunch sponsored by Alabama Power, Drs. Hobson Bryan and Thomas Wells from the University of Alabama explained how siltation is destroying important backwaters in many of our rivers.

In summarizing the event, North Carolina’s Bill Frazier said, “There’s a noticeable increase in enthusiasm since the inaugural rebirth at Shreveport. There are many very effective programs emerging out of the conservation mission and the state conservation directors are stepping up.”

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

Wednesday
Nov062013

CSC Seeks to Regain Fisheries Funds Stolen by Feds in Sequestration

Senate leadership of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) is pushing for restoration of $50 million for fish and wildlife management by the states. In a stunning act of bureaucratic malfeasance, the money was withheld last spring as part of federal sequestration.

But as I pointed out then, “This is not money that would come from the general budget. This is money already collected as excise taxes on fishing and hunting gear and motorboat fuel by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“And this is money reserved, by law, to be used only for fisheries and wildlife management under the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.

“But because of poorly written legislation, 5.1 percent of it can be withheld from the states as part of the sequestration process.”

Now, Senate CSC leaders have sent a letter to the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), requesting that money be released for use by the states.

“We salute the bipartisan leadership of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus for once again standing up in support of hunters and anglers,” said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.

“These dedicated trust funds form the financial backbone of the most successful conservation story in history, and to release them to the state wildlife agencies where they belong is simply the right thing to do.”

The funds are the foundation of the unique American System of Conservation Funding, a “user pays-public benefits” program that has enhanced fish and wildlife populations, improved habitat, and boosted public access to lands and waters.

In the letter, CSC leadership noted that in implementing sequestration, OMB is required to follow rules outlined in the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985. The act provides that budgetary resources sequestered in trust fund accounts in a fiscal year "shall be available in subsequent years to the extent otherwise provided in law."

In March, CSF, along with 44 organizations representing millions of hunters, anglers and other conservationists, asked House and Senate leadership assistance in exempting the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Safety Trust Funds from the Budget Sequestration Act of 2011. But no relief was forthcoming.

Go here and click the “clean air and water” tab to see how much money for fisheries and wildlife management that your state lost because of this idiotic and unnecessary damage to the nation’s natural resources.

Friday
May242013

New Hampshire Defies Common Sense and Science in Banning Lead Tackle

The anti-fishing loon-atics have had their way in New Hampshire, as the state’s House of Representatives passed a bill to outlaw the use of lead jigheads and sinkers of 1 ounce or less. The bill previously passed without opposition in the Senate and now awaits the governor’s signature to be made law.

The bill’s intended purpose is to protect loons from dying of lead poisoning by ingesting the jigs and sinkers. But a law wasn’t needed for that. It rarely occurs anyway.

“There is no substantial evidence to suggest that lead fishing tackle has detrimental impacts on loon, or other migratory waterfowl populations,” the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation said in a letter opposing the bill. “In fact, studies by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service have found loon populations are either stable or increasing across the nation.”

What the bill will do, however, is discourage recreational fishing in New Hampshire, especially by those from out-of-state. Resident anglers will mostly continue to use lead jigs and sinkers, since no punitive measures are attached to the new law.

But out-of-state anglers won’t want the potential hassle and so will go elsewhere to fish. That means their money will go with them.

That translates into fewer tourist dollars to benefit the state’s economy and less revenue for management of the state’s fish and wildlife resources, since fishing license fees are a primary source of revenue.

Additionally, over time, the measure is likely to depress the number of resident anglers as well. That will mean less funding not only from loss of licenses but from the federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) program. State apportionments from the latter are tied to license sales; the more who fish the waters of a state, the more money that state gets.

Whether money comes from license sales or WSFR, it benefits fish and wildlife in general as it is used to restore and enhance habitat. In other words, when anglers buy licenses and spend money on their sport, they actually benefit loons, not harm them.

Congratulations New Hampshire loon-atics for your stupidity and short-sightedness. 

Friday
Sep212012

Fishing, Hunting Important for Nation's Economy

Photo by Robert Montgomery

Members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) learned this week about the rise in hunting and fishing participation and its importance to this country.

"To put it in perspective, the 37 million sportsmen and women over the age of 16 in America is the same as the population of the state of California, and the $90 billion they spent in 2011 is the same as the global sales of Apple's iPad™ and iPhone™ in the same year," said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation.

"Hunting and fishing have been, and clearly continue to be, important elements of our country's outdoor heritage and they are critically important to our nation's economy - particularly the small local economies that support quality hunting and fishing opportunities."

The CSC was briefed by a coalition of angling groups and the outdoor industry, with information obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 National Survey on Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation. To show the importance of fishing and hunting participation and expenditures, these groups compared them to mainstream industries.

Released in August, the data shows a 9 percent increase in hunters and an 11 percent increase in anglers, compared to the 2006 survey. (Since this information refers only to those 16 and older, actual participation is likely higher when adding in youth.)

Most importantly, hunters and anglers continued their strong spending habits. From equipment expenditures ($8.2 billion for hunters, $6.2 billion for anglers) to special equipment ($25 billion towards boats, RV's, ATV's and other such vehicles) to trip-related expenses totaling over $32 billion, sportsmen and women continue to direct their discretionary income toward their outdoor pursuits.

"The economic impact of hunting and fishing is profound in South Dakota and across the country," said Sen. John Thune (South Dakota), Republican Senate Co-Chair of the CSC. "It's important that we have policies that promote hunting and fishing and support the outdoor industries."

"People don't think about hunting and fishing in terms of economic growth," added Sen. Jon Tester (Montana), Democratic Senate Co-Chair of the CSC. "The statistics in the new economic impact report are great and will go a long way to telling the public just how important hunting and fishing are in this country."

Beyond the impact to businesses and local economies, sportsmen and women have played an essential and unmatched role in conserving fish and wildlife and their habitats. Sportsmen and women are the nation's most ardent conservationists, putting money toward state fish and wildlife management.

When you combine license and stamp fees, excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment, the tax from small engine fuel and membership contributions to conservation organizations, hunters and anglers directed $3 billion towards on-the-ground conservation and restoration efforts in 2011 - that is over $95 every second.

This does not include their own habitat acquisition and restoration work for lands owned or leased for the purpose of hunting and fishing, which would add another $11 billion to the mix.

"This is the 75th anniversary of our nation's system of conservation funding - a model that is envied throughout the world - that directs excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment toward state-based conservation,” said Michael Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association.

“The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programs have resulted in robust fish and wildlife populations and quality habitat that is the legacy of the industry and sportsmen and women.”