Sportfishing Industry Supports Critical Oil Spill Response
From The Outdoor Wire
Alexandria, VA - While the nation continues to focus on the efforts to contain the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the trade association representing the sportfishing industry, is working to ensure that recreational fishing businesses are accounted for in federal appropriations and through BP's disaster response fund as the economic evaluation and assistance process evolves.
On May 12, President Obama sent a $118 million legislative package to Congress asking for additional funds for oil spill response and to help speed assistance to people and businesses affected by the spill. Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved about $68 million of the White House's request with more possibly on the way.
"This is a good first start and we're pleased that the President and Congress have addressed the critical need for additional funding," said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman. "We are working to ensure that the sportfishing industry's voice is heard as the economic assessment and financial compensation efforts move forward. This includes reminding everyone that, despite reports to the contrary, most of the Gulf is open for business."
"Understandably, most of the attention is being focused on the affected areas, however, there is another side to this story that deserves to be told," said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman. "According to the oil spill response Joint Information Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal waters closed to recreational and commercial fishing is only eight percent of the Gulf of Mexico. This means that 92 percent of the Gulf is open and available for recreational fishing.
Nussman further said, "In fact, the vast majority of Gulf waters has not been affected by the oil spill and continues to support productive recreational fishing and tourism activities. State and local tourism and natural resource agencies' websites clearly states that fishable waters are open and ready for business. What we don't want - and can't afford as a nation and as an industry - is economic collapse in the Gulf region as self-fulfilling prophesy."
Recreational fishing contributes $41 billion dollars in economic output in the Gulf Coast region annually and supports over 300,000 jobs. The Gulf of Mexico is one of the most popular areas for recreational fishing in the United States with nearly six million saltwater anglers taking over 45 million fishing trips each year, fishing for red drum, spotted sea trout, sheepshead and red snapper among others. The oil spill has the potential to impact the nearly 2,300 tackle shops in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and the West Coast of Florida.
Since 1992, more than $1 billion from the Sport Fish and Boating Trust Fund has been dedicated to conserve and restore Louisiana's coastal wetlands - $400 million since Hurricane Katrina. The basis for the Fund is the federal excise tax on sportfishing equipment and motorboat and small engine fuel.
In addition, the FishAmerica Foundation, ASA's conservation and research foundation, is expanding its Gulf Fund grant program to include fisheries and their habitats that are expected to be impacted by the April oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The sportfishing industry established the Gulf Fund in 2005 to help restore fisheries habitat and recreational fishing facilities devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
"Although no one is certain of the long-term impacts of the oil spill, the FishAmerica Foundation is prepared to step up and assist local groups with funding to restore sportfish and their habitats once the restoration efforts begin," said FishAmerica Foundation Executive Director, Johanna Laderman.
Nussman concluded, "The Deepwater Horizon oil spill will test our natural resource agencies as never before. While the impact on recreational fisheries and wildlife is impossible to gauge at this time, everything must be done to clean up this massive oil spill and measures must be put in place to ensure that something like this does not happen again."
The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry's trade association, committed to looking out for the interests of the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry a unified voice speaking out when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. We invest in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous as well as safeguard and promote the enduring economic and conservation values of sportfishing in America. ASA also represents the interests of America's 60 million anglers who generate over $45 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation's economy creating employment for over one million people.
The FishAmerica Foundation , the conservation and research foundation of the American Sportfishing Association, is dedicated to keeping our fish and waters healthy. FishAmerica unites the sportfishing industry with conservation groups, government agencies, fishing tournaments, corporations and charitable foundations, investing in fisheries conservation and research across the country. FishAmerica's matching grants empower citizen conservationists in their own communities. Since 1983, FishAmerica has invested more than $11 million in 1,000 fisheries conservation and research projects nationwide.
Continue to monitor the Gulf Oil Spill here on OutdoorChannel.com