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Casting Lines For Future

Recreational fishing interests create plan to manage fish stocks

Members of the panel pose after presenting their report. Members of the panel pose after presenting their report.

By: Cash Lambert, OutdoorChannel.com

MIAMI -- Another step has been taken to ensure that our children – and hopefully our children’s children – will be fortunate enough to experience America’s saltwater fisheries as we do today.

The 14-page report, released last week at the 2014 Miami International Boat show, was titled A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries. It outlines fishing’s vast economic impact, the state of the industry and feasible recommendations the panel of experts believes are important to preserve the sport.

Recreational fishing interests create plan to manage fish stocks

“This is the first time the recreational fishing community and the fishing and boating industries have set forth what we believe the majority of the nation’s recreational anglers want, regarding our saltwater fisheries laws, management policies and regulations,” said Scott Deal, President of Mavericks Boats.

The panel on the Commission that created the report included Chairman Larry McKinney, Ph.D., the executive director of the Harte Research Institute; Ken Haddad, the former executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; and Rip Cunningham, the former editor in chief of Salt Water Sportsman Magazine.

“For many reasons, I’m deeply committed to protecting and enhancing our nation’s fisheries to ensure a bright future for the great American tradition of fishing,” said Johnny Morris, co-chair of the Commission and the founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops.

He’s examined many of the statistics that can derail the industry in years to come and is committed to preventing them. A recent report from Save our Seas Foundation – an internationally acclaimed foundation that funds oceanic research in every ocean - says that 75 percent of the world’s fish stocks are currently being harvested faster than they can reproduce. And by 2050, some world fisheries could potentially collapse.

“It’s not only vitally important to our economy, it’s also very important to our society and for getting kids connected to the outdoors and understanding the need for conservation,” Morris said. “Sharing our outdoor heritage with our children and grandchildren means we must work hard now to improve saltwater recreational fisheries management.”

The report outlines that in 2011, more than 11 million Americans saltwater fished recreationally. In doing so, they spent $27 billion, which generated $70 billion in economic output and sustained 450,000 jobs.

“Current laws and policies governing saltwater recreational fishing have not kept pace with the evolution of recreational saltwater fishing, its growing popularity and its economic impact,” the report states.

The solution, according to the panel, is to develop a national policy for saltwater recreational fishing that “builds upon our current fisheries management system but acknowledges that a new and distinctive path forward is needed for recreational fishing.”

Governmental policy in this case would fall under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which is currently being debated in Washington regarding its reauthorization. The act, called by NOAA the “most significant piece of fisheries legislation passed in this century,” was created in 1967 by Sen. Warren G. Magnuson. It established eight regional fisheries, along with panels to develop plans for marine fisheries in their respective regions.

An amendment to the act by Sen. Ted Stevens in 1996 not only added his name to the bill, but it also placed a safeguard against over fishing. It also limits the sale of certain fish and regulates types of fishing equipment. In 2006, the Act was again reauthorized and called for annual catch limits.

The panel is pitching to the Federal Government that a reactivated Act should encase the following: a revised approach to saltwater recreational fisheries management, allocating marine fisheries, creating reasonable latitude in stock rebuilding timelines, codifying a process for cooperative management, and managing the forage base.

The House and Senate committees have both met regarding the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and it’s expected that the Senate will release a new draft in May.

If everything goes as planned, future grandfathers and grandmothers will be able to tell their grandchildren – while casting out a line – how they helped preserve the sport just for them by simply standing behind 14 pieces of paper.

Members of the panel in photo, left to right: Dr. Larry McKinney, Director Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, University of Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Jeff Angers, President Center for Coastal Conservation, Thom Dammrich, President National Marine Manufacturers Association, Eileen Sobeck, NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, Scott Deal, President of Maverick, Hewes, Cobia and Pathfinder Boats, Johnny Morris, Founder and CEO, Bass Pro Shops, and Mike Nussman, President American Sportfishing Association

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