We have made unprecedented strides in gaining overdue recognition of recreational saltwater fishing by federal regulators, but we haven’t crossed the finish line and won’t without continued activism. So, here are two actions you can take now if you’re a dealer selling fishing boats — or even a dealer who doesn’t.
First, an action alert from Boating United is just out concerning fishing for red snapper in the South Atlantic region. Support is needed now for Amendment 43, which would allow a limited harvest of one red snapper-per-person each day. Fishing would be allowed on weekends only and the season’s start and end dates would be announced if the amendment is approved.
The truth is red snapper in the South Atlantic have increased in abundance over the last several years at an even faster rate than predicted by a rebuilding plan. Surveys and angler reports document a quickly-rebuilding fishery. Now, in response to activism by boat dealers, manufacturers and fishermen, new regulations have been proposed that would allow a 2018 limited season for red snapper in South Atlantic federal waters.
These proposed new regulations are an attempt to reduce socioeconomic hardships to fishermen and fishing communities while continuing the program to rebuild this fishery. Notably, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council has already approved Amendment 43. It’s now in the hands of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and with nearly half of 2018 already behind us, it’s time to fish! Click here to tell NOAA to follow suit!
An Even Bigger Fish!
If you think getting our Modern Fish Act through Congress and onto President Trump’s desk is a done deal, think again. While bills have passed out of committees in both chambers, they must still get to their respective floors for a vote. And they won’t unless we continue putting on pressure.
I’m prompted to blog on this today because if you don’t see there are ongoing efforts to scuttle the bills, you’re wrong. For example, fishing interests like Steve Maisel, a commercial fisherman out of Palm Harbor, Fla. recently wrote: “There are two bills being pushed through Congress right now that pose a threat to commercial fishermen because of recreational fishermen’s frustrations with short snapper seasons.”
Maisel goes on to misinform: “The Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act (H.R. 200) and the Modern Fish Act (S.1520) could make it more challenging for me to fish by weakening science-based management, restricting commercial fisherman and adding more red tape to my business.”
Please, stop trying to blow smoke up my kilt. The truth is, the Modern Fish Act calls for long-overdue changes in the law that has governed saltwater fishing for more than 40 years called the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA). Originally passed in 1976, MSA was solely intended to protect U.S. commercial fishing interests. It didn’t recognize recreational fishing. In 1996, Congress added provisions to MSA to reduce overfishing and cut wasted catch in commercial fishing.
Again in 2006, Congress added more teeth to end overfishing in the commercial industry. But it really didn’t change federal management of recreational fishing that continued to be based on out-of-date models, formulas and allocations applied to commercial fishing. As far as recreational fishing was concerned, it was still as far from reality as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Passage of the Modern Fish Act can change that. It will finally require improved recreational data collection using modern technology and review allocations between commercial and recreational. Further, it will require policies and programs under MSA actually reflect the enormous impact of recreational fishing in America, not to the detriment of commercial interests, but to a proper balance.
If you are a dealer selling to anglers that fish in federally-managed saltwater, your customers have been frustrated by shortened seasons, reduced bag limits, and poor restrictions. From summer flounder in New Jersey to red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico, recreational fishermen have been subjected to out-of-date data, resulting quotas and, in some cases, even questionable management strategies.
Passage of the Modern Fish Act will improve access to America’s federal waters while still promoting conservation of our marine resources. TELL YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS to support the Modern Fish Act and send it to the floor for a vote. Boaters, anglers and recreational boating and fishing stakeholders can text the word “fish” to the number 50457 to do so.