President’s ocean plan has benefits for marine industry

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Celebrating the opening of the new Sant Ocean Hall at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History on Friday, President Bush discussed the administration’s efforts to protect and preserve the nation’s oceans, coasts and the Great Lakes through wise stewardship and sensible management.

In December 2004, the President released his Ocean Action Plan and created the first Cabinet Committee on Ocean Policy. On Friday, Bush announced that his administration has met or is on schedule to meet all 88 actions in the plan.

Bush said the Ocean Action Plan will provide a number of lasting benefits, such as protecting striped bass and red drum fish populations, and helping to end overfishing, which are of particular importance to the marine industry and its relationship with the angling community.

Other measures in the plan include eliminating shark finning, addressing marine debris, protecting marine habitats, restoring the Everglades, restoring the Louisiana coast, identifying additional areas for marine protection, and expanding scientific knowledge of the oceans.

In related news, the President signed an amendment Friday to a 1995 executive order to protect recreational boating and fishing access on federal waters and marine protected areas.

The amendment provides new and clear direction to federal agencies charged with management of natural resources, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. The NMMA, in partnership with fishing and conservation groups, said it has long been concerned with recent trends to unduly restrict public access to marine resources held in public trust.

“This order re-establishes a long-standing federal policy to allow and encourage access to public lands and waters for recreational purposes consistent with resource protection,” said NMMA president Thom Dammrich, in a statement.

NMMA worked with the American Sportfishing Association, Billfish Foundation, Center for Coastal Conservation, Coastal Conservation Association, International Game Fish Association and the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation to finalize the amendment.

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