By now, you have probably heard about the Sportsmen’s Act. On February 5, an updated and reenergized version was introduced. So far, it is getting support from both sides of the aisle but it needs your help to get passed into law. Here you’ll find the information and tools you need to tell Congress to support the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015.
Entries in Keep America Fishing (55)
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.)
Please urge your U.S. Senators to support the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act, S. 2080, introduced recently by Ben Cardin of Maryland and Mike Crapo of Idaho.
Keep America Fishing says this:
“This vital piece of legislation would strengthen a program that has been in place for close to a decade and contributes to river rehabilitations, reservoir enhancements, salt-marsh protection efforts and other fishery conservation projects across the country.
“Fish habitat resources are of enormous significance to the economy of the United States providing recreation for 60 million anglers; more than 828,000 jobs and approximately $115 billion in economic impact each year relating to recreational fishing; and 575,000 jobs.
“Healthy habitat = healthy fish populations = better fishing!”
Gene Gilliland, National Conservation Director for B.A.S.S. adds, "The legislation will provide much needed funding for the 18 fish habitat partnerships. The one that is most relevant to bass fishing is the Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership and its Friends of Reservoirs Foundation.
"But several of the other partnerships deal with fish habitat issues in lakes and rivers where you fish and need Congressional support to continue their work."
Go here to take action.The legislation noted below will provide much needed funding for the 18 fish habitat partnerships The one that is most relevant to bass fishing is the Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership and its Friends of Reservoirs Foundation that many of you heard Jeff Boxrucker talk about at the Classic Conservation Summit. But several of the other partnerships deal with fish habitat issues in lakes and rivers where you fish and need Congressional support to continue their work.
After several years of facing the threat of a large-scale no-fishing zone in Florida's Biscayne National Park, anglers saw a major step in the right direction last November when a new proposed management plan was released that no longer includes the unwarranted, and overly-restrictive, marine reserve.
Now your help is needed to ensure that the marine reserve stays off the table, and that the new plan allows for ample recreational fishing access and conserves the park’s fisheries resources.
The park’s new preferred plan eliminates the previously proposed marine reserve and instead proposes a special recreation zone along a portion of the park’s reef tract in which fishing would be allowed year round under a permit system. Recreational fishing and boating is still permitted in nearly all of the remainder of the park under existing state and federal regulations.
You have until Feb. 20 to provide comments to the National Park Service. Please take a moment to voice your support for maintaining anglers’ ability to enjoy the exceptional fishing opportunities at Biscayne National Park.
It’s important for all anglers to pay attention to and comment on the current proposed management plan at Biscayne National Park. Thanks to Keep America Fishing advocates like you weighing in, significant progress has been made on this issue. It’s critically important that anglers continue to make their voices heard and ensure that this process continues to move in an improved direction.
Some preservationist groups have already mounted a campaign for the National Park Service to go back on its progress and instead revert to a marine reserve – we need your help to ensure that doesn’t happen!
Congratulations to Kacey H. of Matlacha, Fla., for being voted Keep America Fishing’s 2013 Queen of Fish. Kacey was chosen from among the 260 entries by popular vote and a panel of industry experts, fishing pros, and staff. The King/Queen of Fish marked Keep America Fishing’s first photo contest during which Facebook followers were instructed to upload a photo of their best catch of 2013 in order to compete.
Go here to learn more.