Time to Work With Recreational Fishermen, Not Against Them

uddenly, this country’s recreational fishermen seem to matter. But lately, recognition of the importance for angler access to fish and fishing is on the upswing. The proof of that can be seen on several fronts, including: An expanded, far more generous federal season for anglers to catch red snapper this year in Gulf of Mexico federal waters; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries rejecting a petition by several environmental groups to list Pacific bluefin tuna as an endangered species, thereby preserving recreational fishermen’s access off California; Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross agreeing with New Jersey (and against the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission) last August to allow anglers to continue catching summer flounder; A statement in an exclusive online interview with Sport Fishing magazine in September wherein Chris Oliver, the new head of NOAA Fisheries (National Marine Fisheries Service), reaffirms the “need to recognize these differences [between commercial and recreational fishing] and, where appropriate, use different management approaches to ensure both communities thrive.” Further proof of the recognition that sport fishing matters can be found in a flurry of activity on the part of some large environmental groups that apparently took note of this. Groups such as the National Resources Defense Council labeled an effort to amend MSA as the “Empty Oceans Act.” Pew and the Environmental Defense Fund say amending MSA would move us backward. "I recall, back in the 1990s, when some large environmental groups really did reach out, trying to find common ground. I realize that many of my fellow fishermen consider such groups as an evil-incarnate enemy. I recall, back in the 1990s, when some large environmental groups really did reach out, trying to find common ground. During most of that time, anglers seemed to have little of the power exerted by large environmental groups. A recent report shows angler participation in this country up 20 percent in the past 10 years. Sport Fishing welcomes opportunities to share a variety of perspectives from prominent or influential participants in issues related to recreational fishing and fisheries.
Anglers prepare to head out for morning of fishing near Sebastian Inlet, Florida

Anglers prepare to look for fish on a stretch of Florida’s Indian River, where the growing problems of pollution and habitat loss threaten the healthy fish populations that both anglers and environmentalists (often one/same) ulitmately seek to protect.

uddenly, this country’s recreational fishermen seem to matter.
That’s been a long time coming.
Of course, we know we’ve mattered — certainly economically (to the tune of billions of dollars annually) — for many years. But lately, recognition of the importance for angler access to fish and fishing is on the upswing.
The proof of that can be seen on several fronts, including:

  • An expanded, far more generous federal season for anglers to catch red snapper this year in Gulf of Mexico federal waters;
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries rejecting a petition by several environmental groups to list Pacific bluefin tuna as an endangered species, thereby preserving recreational fishermen’s access off California;
  • Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross agreeing with New Jersey (and against the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission) last August to allow anglers to continue catching summer flounder;
  • A statement in an exclusive online interview with Sport Fishing magazine in September wherein Chris Oliver, the new head of NOAA Fisheries (National Marine Fisheries Service), reaffirms the “need to recognize these differences [between commercial and recreational fishing] and, where appropriate, use different management approaches to ensure both communities thrive.”

Further proof of the recognition that sport fishing matters can be found in a flurry of activity on the part of some large environmental…

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