The Senate will hold a fourth and final hearing Tuesday in Washington, D.C., to discuss the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the law that governs federal saltwater fishing and allocation.
At the same time, Yamaha Marine and recreational sportfishing associations are promoting passage of the Modern Fish Act, which would reform key aspects of current federal fisheries management policy. The bill is expected to be marked up in the coming days or weeks.
“The stars have begun to align [in both the House and the Senate] in the Capitol and on both sides of the aisle,” Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy, told Trade Only Today. “Now is the time for reform in federal fisheries management, and the industrywide focus on the Modern Fish Act is clear to everyone who’s paying attention.”
“We have focused on a communications campaign across many different platforms — social media of our nonprofit partners and beyond to elevate this issue to get the Modern Fish Act across the finish line,” Angers said.
“With the Senate hearing coming up Tuesday and the House markup to come in the days ahead, we find ourselves at an important crossroads, and so our communications committee leadership and staff have been focused on supporting the advocacy efforts of our government relations function to get this bill passed. We’re doing this now because the time is right to get this across the finish line.”
Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, who chairs the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, will convene the hearing, titled “Reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act: Fisheries Science,” at 2:30 p.m.
The hearing is part of a discussion for amending the law, which is up for reauthorization, to provide more flexibility.
“After this hearing, Chairman Sullivan will guide the process through his subcommittee,” Angers said. “I believe Senator Sullivan will do what he said he was going to do, which was to pay attention to fishing communities all over the country, both recreational and commercial, and tweak the act so it better works for both sectors. He’s the kind of man who does what he says he’s going to do.”
Dr. Larry McKinney, director of the Texas A&M University Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, will testify from the perspective of the recreational sportfishing industry, Angers said.
“On our side of the ledger, the guy who’s going to be preaching the gospel of conservation and stewardship and state management and recreational fishing’s importance to local economies is Dr. Larry McKinney,” Angers said.
Dr. Ray Hilborn, a professor at the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, is also expected to testify on behalf of the recreational industry, Angers said.
Karl Haflinger, founder and president of Sea State Inc., and Dr. Michael Jones, a professor at the Michigan State University Quantitative Fisheries Center, will also testify.
Yamaha Marine, along with groups that include the American Sportfishing Association, the Coastal Conservation Association, the Center for Sportfishing Policy and the National Marine Manufacturers Association, are making a push on behalf of the Modern Fish Act, formally known as the “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017,” or H.R. 2023.
The CSP communications committee, which is chaired by Yamaha Marine Group government relations and marine communications manager Martin Peters, is trying to get op-ed placement advocating for the Modern Fish Act in states such as Texas and Alaska.
The committee is also launching a social media campaign with sample tweets and content ideas for Facebook posts. The suggestions include photos, video and sample letters to send members of Congress.
Peters said the timing is right to invest in the effort.
“There are a group of members of the Center for Sportfishing Policy who are part of the center’s communication committee,” Peters told Trade Only. “It was formed by the board of the center, and I’ve had the honor of chairing that committee.”
Yamaha is also promoting the Modern Fish Act via its “Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation” website, launched in 2015 to help mobilize recreational anglers to become grassroots advocates, Peters said.
“The Modern Fish Act will make critically important changes to federal fishing regulations,” Angers said in a letter to CSP supporters. “Recreational fishing and commercial fishing are two fundamentally different activities needing distinctly different management tools. The Modern Fish Act will promote public access for America’s 11 million saltwater recreational anglers, adapt federal management to fit recreational fishing, improve fisheries data collection and spur economic growth.”