Industry leaders discuss fisheries policy in D.C.

Recreational fishing proponents met with members of Congress on Wednesday.

Recreational fishing proponents met with members of Congress on Wednesday to discuss disparities between recreational and commercial fishery management.

The activities included a Congressional Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy Luncheon and coordinated congressional office visits.

The “Weigh-in on the Hill” provided a forum for members of Congress and their staff, conservation and industry partners and recreational anglers to discuss the differences between recreational and commercial fishery management.

The forum addressed how the current management approach under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the proposed adjustments to MSA found in the Modern Fish Act (H.R. 2023 and S. 1520) could improve public access to America’s federal waters, promote conservation of marine resources and spur economic growth.

“Bottom line is the Modern Fish Act is not about recreational anglers versus commercial fishermen,” Center for Sportfishing Policy fisheries program director Chris Horton said in a statement. “It is about making a few adjustments to the Magnuson-Stevens-Act that allows for the same emphasis on recreational fisheries management as the act does for commercial fisheries management.”

Featured speakers from the marine industry included Scott Deal of Maverick Boats; Dr. Larry McKinney of the Harte Research Institute; Nick Cicero of Folsom Corp.; Mark Matthews of Superior Bait and Tackle; and Ricky Gease of the Kenia River Sportfishing Association.

“Recreational and commercial fishing are completely different endeavors and should be managed differently,” Deal said in a statement. “We need commercial fisheries to be healthy, and we need recreational fisheries to be healthy for businesses like mine.”

“The solution is not rocket science; it is not even difficult fisheries science,” McKinney said. “We currently have the tools and knowledge to improve management for these recreationally important species, but are constrained by the Magnuson-Stevens Act that was developed for larger commercial fisheries based on biomass extraction and not for access — what recreational fisheries need. Fisheries should be managed to the best interest of the nation, and one important aspect of that interest is economic benefit and job creation.”

Sponsors of the event included the American Sportfishing Association; Center for Sportfishing Policy; Coastal Conservation Association; Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation; National Marine Manufacturers Association; and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.