Angler group seeks voice on Gulf oil spill

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The Billfish Foundation is urging constituents to join it in reminding decision makers to include the recreational fishing and boating community in the federal fisheries disaster declarations that allow for compensation of losses.

"Rarely making the news are the losses being felt by the multibillion-dollar recreational fishing and boating industry in the Gulf, comprised primarily of small businesses supporting responsible and sustainable angling," Billfish Foundation president Ellen Peel said in a statement.

"Once the U.S. government announced closure of all fishing activities in the Gulf for 10 days, some sportfishing vessels dependent upon access to the waters began leaving, anticipating more closures," she added.

Billfish tournaments have canceled their events after months of planning and investment of significant dollars. Many billfishing events raised funds for many charities and donated to The Billfish Foundation to support needed research in the Gulf.

Prior to the oil spill, said Peel, many marine businesses were already suffering from government limits and restrictions in place because of commercial overfishing impacting stocks of Atlantic blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish, bluefin and yellowfin tuna, sharks, red snapper, grouper and sea turtles.

Peel said The Billfish Foundation is asking anglers to contact their state's governor, as well as their state and national senators and representatives, demanding that the voice of the recreational fishing and boating industries and citizens wanting to use those services be heard.

"These industries must be included in any plans to 'make whole' from losses initiating from the Deepwater Horizon," she said. "Additionally those voices must focus on state and federal fishery management entities demanding responsible use by all with emphasis on generating the highest recurring financial value and resource abundance."

Click here for a draft letter to forward to state and federal policymakers.

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