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“Keep Fishermen Fishing Rally” set for Washington

Thousands of salt water fishermen are expected to make some “noise” in Washington D.C. when they gather there for the second national fishermen’s rally on March 21. Speakers slated to address the anglers are Massachusetts’ Sens. John Kerry (D) and Scott Brown (R), as well as Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., among others.

Dubbed the “Keep Fishermen Fishing Rally,” it’s an effort by leaders from both the recreational and commercial fishing industries to unite under one shared message -- to “reform Magnuson now!”

More specifically, efforts have been underway by anglers to incorporate limited management flexibility into the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation & Management Act. Unfortunately, when that act was reauthorized in 2006, it incorporated rigid statutory requirements concerning the federal management of some 500 different fish stocks.

The result has been fishery closures based on arbitrary timetables as well as unscientific and incomplete data. Even the National Science Foundation labeled the methods used by National Marine Fisheries as poor and unscientific. And, while recreational fisherman have been most effected by these closures, charter and party boat owners, commercial fishermen and related industries have also been negatively impacted.

The first fisherman’s rally attracted about 5,000 anglers to Upper Senate Park. That site will again be ground zero for this year’s rally, which is expected to double in size. That’s because more buses are already scheduled to take anglers to Washington from such states as New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida.

Fortunately, the fishing issue is becoming increasingly recognized in the halls of Congress. For example, currently there are as many as five bills pending in the House, and one in the Senate, to amend Magnuson-Stevens. The “Keep Fishermen Fishing Rally” should increase attention and interest in solving the problems now inherent in Magnuson-Stevens. The overall goal of changing Magnuson-Stevens isn’t complicated: it’s to have Congress pass common sense, scientific reform and remove from that act all nonscientific and/or arbitrary provisions.

The “Keep Fishermen Fishing Rally” is made up of 35 organizations ranging from the Recreational Fishing Alliance and the New York Sportfishing Federation, to the West Coast Seafood Processors Association and the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association.

If you or your customers want to get on board, buses will be leaving from many points along the East and Gulf Coasts. Some examples include: buses from Harborgate Marina in Myrtle Beach, S.C. and Tailwalker Marine in Georgetown, S.C.; Ocean Isle Fishing Center (Raffield Fisheries) in Panama City, Fla.; Bogan’s Boat Basin in Brielle, the Wildwood Fishing Center and Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina all in N.J.; and the Pier Number 6, Point Lookout and Sheepshead Bay in N.Y., among others.

If you or your customers want to get on board, the latest details can be found at: www.keepfishermenfishing.com.

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