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Entries in recreational fishing (49)

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

Monday
Feb172014

Reality Versus the Anti-Fishing Movement

Anti-fishing groups are experts at using labels and implication to drive their agendas. Mistaken assumptions by the public because of that tactic are just fine with them as long as they further the cause.

For example, they talk about “overfishing” with no regard for the vast difference between recreational and commercial tactics and harvest. As a consequence, by implication, one is the same as the other.

Also, they cite statistics without putting them into context. For example, if two dead loons have been found at Lake X during the past decade and one of them was revealed to have died of lead poisoning, they will say “Half of loon mortality at Lake X is attributable to lead fishing tackle.”

That is true, of course, but misleading in its importance. Almost certainly the loon population during that decade was harmed much more by habitat loss and predation.

When the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act was passed, its authors--- intentionally or otherwise--- did much the same thing. The act defined any stock of fish that is not at a high enough level to produce the maximum sustainable yield as being “overfished.” Yes, some stocks are overfished. But depletion could be attributable to other factors, including disease and weather.

Because of that wording, though, the act has been used to penalize both recreational and commercial fishing.

A blog at FISHupdate.com explains it this way:

“This law is without question the most important piece of legislation that deals with U.S. domestic fisheries management. Thus, equating ‘not enough fish’ with ‘overfished’ contributes to a blame-it-all-on-fishing mindset and a gift to the anti-fishing activists.”

A proposed amendment would change “overfished” to “depleted” throughout the act.

That amendment is contained in draft Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act.

“The draft legislation aims to alleviate a number of concerns that recreational and commercial fishermen and the businesses that depend on them have had, since the original intent of the Magnuson Act has been severely distorted by a number of agenda-driven organizations,” said FISHupdate, which cited a previous blog about this at Fishosophy.

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.

Tuesday
Dec312013

What Does 2014 and Beyond Hold for Fishing?

Photo by Robert Montgomery

One of my first assignments as a young sports writer was to interview an 85-year-old man who bicycled daily.

I don’t remember much about that interview except what he told me at the end. “People don’t use their legs enough,” he said. “One of these days, they won’t even have them anymore.”

Now, the obesity epidemic that has occurred in recent years does give me pause, but I’m still not ready to buy into the idea that our legs will devolve into worthless stumps.

Rather, I remember what he said because it’s provocative. Over the years, it often has inspired me to look at many aspects of modern life with a new perspective and to wonder what lies ahead.

That brings me to consideration of what lies ahead for recreational fishing.

What began as means of gathering food to survive thousands of years ago has evolved into a pastime enjoyed today by an estimated 60 million people in this country and probably more than 100 million worldwide.

Yes, some of us still fish for food. But many of us also have recognized countless other reasons that keep us returning to the water with rods in our hands. We fish to spend time with family and friends. We fish to relax. We fish to compete. We fish to enjoy nature. We fish to remember. We fish to forget. We fish because --- along with our families, our religions, and our jobs --- it completes us.

But will it always? Or will something replace it?

(Excerpt from the final essay in my new book, Why We Fish.)


Tuesday
Dec102013

Catch-And-Release Latest Target for Anti-Fishing Movement

Here is something that you didn’t know: You are a hypocrite if you practice catch-and-release.

That’s right. If you care enough to turn a fish loose after you catch it, then you should be smart enough to realize that you shouldn’t catch it in the first place.

Don’t laugh. That’s the latest strategy by animal rights activists in this country to kill recreational fishing. Twice now it’s been used in comments at my Activist Angler website. The latest was in response to a post of mine that ridiculed PETA for distorting facts to support its anti-fishing ideology.

I was accused of being so steeped in a “pro-fishing, pro-industry dogma” that I have lost perspective. “Attempting to demonize people who are concerned about the ethics of sport fishing is a clear act of bigotry,” said commenter Rob Russell.

“Any thoughtful angler will reach a point where he or she desires to lessen their impacts on fish. When you engage in premeditated C&R, when your only goal is ‘sport’ (gratification), how do you rationalize putting a fish’s life at risk?

“If you are not concerned about this, then you have some thinking to do.”

Well, Rob, I have been thinking about it, and I am concerned. And if you fish, you should be concerned too. As irrational as this ploy seems, it already has worked in Europe.                        

The Swiss Animal Welfare Act of 2008 makes catch-and-release illegal because “it is in conflict with the dignity of the fish and its presumed ability to suffer and feel pain.” A similar rule has been in place since the 1980s in Germany, where anglers also must take a course in fish handling before they can obtain a license.

“The argument runs (in Germany) that it is legally acceptable to go fishing only if one has the intention to catch fish for food,” say the authors of a disturbing study, “A Primer on Anti-Angling Philosophy and Its Relevance for Recreational Fisheries in Urbanized Societies.”

In other words, you can have fun catching fish in Germany, but don’t tell anyone--- and you must keep the fish. Tournament fishing is not allowed and economic benefits are not a sufficient justification for fishing.

 “It all boils down to the individual benefits experienced by the angler, and here food provision is currently the only acceptable reason,” the authors add.

Think that can’t happen here, a country of nearly 40 million licensed anglers? Think again, and don’t be misled by the fact that 9 out of 10 Americans approve of legal fishing and support using fish for food.

The authors of that study discovered that when people are asked whether they approve of recreational fishing for sport, answers change dramatically. Twenty-five to 30 percent view angling for sport as cruel in more urbanized states such as Colorado and Arizona, while about 20 percent feel the same way in more rural states, including Alaska and the Dakotas.

And then there are the useful idiots. They fish but are so narrow-minded that they support anti-fishing activists in this campaign.

The second commenter at my website said this: “Sport fishing for catch-and-release should be outlawed! We are working to keep fish for real fishermen who enjoy the taste and food. We need to keep these so called ‘sport fishermen’ out of Minnesota lakes!”

How do we combat this strategy? We don’t engage in the false argument that catch-and-release is just one step on the road to enlightenment and that, if we really care, we must stop fishing for sport. That’s like trying to answer the question “Do you still beat your wife?” and not sound guilty. An attempt to answer either instantly puts the responder on the defensive.

The reality is that catch-and-release is a conservation practice, not an action prompted by concern for the welfare of an individual fish. Since B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott popularized the practice during tournaments in the 1970s, it has been embraced by anglers worldwide as a way to sustain fisheries. And it’s working. For example, Florida anglers keep less than 10 percent of the bass that they catch, with the vast majority released so that they can continue to reproduce, as well as be caught again.

And let’s not forget the value that we derive from catching and releasing those fish.  Yes, fish as food nourishes the body, but fishing for fun nourishes the spirit. During this chaotic and angry time in our nation’s history, nothing is more important.  

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