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'Unprecedented' agreement seeks to expand fishing and boating on public waters

The federal government is moving to declare October as National Hunting and Fishing Month, and a new agreement will call on recreational fishing, boating and hunting stakeholders to plan and implement projects and activities that promote those activities on public lands and waterways.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service today announced a new memorandum of understanding with the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, the American Sportfishing Association, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

The RBFF called the memorandum of understanding “unprecedented.”

The MOU, which was signed just after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke declared that October will officially be recognized as National Hunting and Fishing Month, was created to develop and expand cooperation among the participating parties for planning and implementing mutually beneficial projects and activities to promote recreational fishing and boating on public lands and waterways.

"Anglers and recreational boaters help bolster many local economies in the pursuit of these American pastimes," Zinke said in a statement. "We want to make sure to encourage more people to cast out their lines and get their boats out on the water. Partnerships like this are vital as we work to increase access to public lands and waters and pass on these traditions to future generations. "

The objective of the MOU is to promote angler recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) activities, with the goal of increasing the current 47 million recreational fishing participants in the United States ages 6-plus to 60 million at the end of 60 months, or by 2021. Dubbed ‘60 in 60’ by RBFF, the initiative was launched in April 2016.

“The MOU provides a tremendous opportunity to work together with our partners in the outdoors and the Department of the Interior to ensure sufficient access and conservation of our nation’s public waterways,” said NMMA president Thom Dammrich. “Waterway access and conservation are critical to recreational boating — an industry made up of nearly 650,000 people who help deliver an estimated $121 billion in annual economic impact in the U.S. each year.”

“Fishing and boating participation numbers look good right now, but with all of the demographic changes taking place in our country and the rapidly growing use of technology, we’ve all got to up our game,” RBFF president and CEO Frank Peterson said. “This partnership is a fantastic start to a cooperative effort on the national, regional and local level to ensure fishing and boating participation thrive for years to come, supporting critical state agency wildlife management efforts.”

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