Act now to support new fishing bill

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It was my first visit to International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, better known as ICAST, Wednesday in Orlando, Fla., and I was like a kid in a candy store with great stuff down every aisle. But aside from being awed by the products and technology offered to make our fishing days successful, I came face-to-face with the reality of just how big the fishing industry is today.

Add to that an impressive Marine Accessory Pavilion coordinated by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and it really dramatized for me just how important good fishing is to our boating success. We are inextricably linked.

Understanding that, all boating interests should be willing to rally behind important fishing issues and a call for such action is out today.

Specifically, the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 (Modern Fish Act) was introduced in Congress (see Tuesday’s Trade Only Today). Passage of this act would benefit recreational anglers by addressing many of the challenges we now face, including allowing alternative management tools for recreational fishing, reexamining fisheries allocations, smartly rebuilding fish stocks and improving recreational data collection.

The bipartisan Modern Fish Act was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; Bill Nelson, D-Fla.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; John Kennedy, R-La., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. A companion bipartisan bill (H.R. 2023) was introduced in the House by Reps. Garret Graves, R-La., Gene Green, D-Texas, Daniel Webster, R-Fla., and Rob Wittman, R-Va.

For years, recreational fishing has been hindered by antiquated policies that restrict access to public waters, hurt the U.S. economy and detract from conservation goals. But that’s changing because those of us with a stake in fishing are becoming engaged in fishing issues as never before — and it’s paying off.

For example, we recently won a major victory with the 39-day extension to the Gulf red snapper season. Another big win is the appointment of Phil Dyskow, Yamaha’s immediate past president, to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. Nominated for a recreational fishing seat by Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Dyskow’s appointment will bring to the council his diverse knowledge of marine fisheries and proven business leadership.

But we’re just getting started. The introduction of the Modern Fish Act is a next step. It gives us a genuine chance to see Congress ensure that all Americans have fair and reasonable access to our nation's marine resources. Simply, we cannot let this opportunity slip away because of our inaction.

Today, take a minute to click this link provided by the Bass Anglers for Salt Water Conservation. It will send a letter from you to your two U.S. senators and representatives explaining why they should support the Modern Fish Act.

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