Industry advocates back Senate fisheries bill

Marine and fishing industry advocates are praising a bill introduced Monday in the Senate, saying it would safeguard the role of states in fisheries management.
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Marine and fishing industry advocates are praising a bill introduced Monday in the Senate, saying it would safeguard the role of states in fisheries management.

S.2807 would help prevent unwarranted fishing closures such as what recently occurred at Biscayne National Park, according to a coalition of groups that include the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the Coastal Conservation Association, the American Sportfishing Association, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, BoatUS, the Center for Coastal Conservation and the International Game Fish Association.

Led by Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the Preserving Public Access to Public Waters Act would require the National Park Service to have approval from state fish and wildlife agencies before closing state marine or Great Lakes waters to recreational or commercial fishing.

“Given the significant economic, social and conservation benefits that recreational fishing provides to the nation, any decision to close or restrict public access should be based on sound science and strong management principles,”  American Sportfishing Association president and CEO Mike Nussman said in a statement.

“While closed areas have a role in fisheries management, they should only come after legitimate consideration of all possible options and agreement among management agencies,” Nussman said. “This bill, which is strongly supported by the recreational fishing industry, will ensure that the voice of state fisheries agencies is not lost in these decisions.”

Legislation similar to S.2807 has passed the House of Representatives as part of the Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement, or SHARE Act. The original House bill, H.R. 3310, is led by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., Mario Diaz-Balart, R- Fla., Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., and 35 other sponsors.

“State fish and wildlife agencies have a strong track record of sustainable fisheries management that provides for ample fishing opportunities,” said Patrick Murray, president of the Coastal Conservation Association. “This legislation will ensure that the states’ authority to manage state fishery resources is maintained and will provide a backstop against poorly developed fishing closures that would only serve to deter fishing participation.”

A decision by the National Park Service in 2015 to implement a 10,000-acre marine reserve in one of the nation’s most popular urban fishing areas just outside Miami sparked significant opposition from the recreational fishing and boating community.

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