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NOAA plans national policy on recreational fishing

NOAA Fisheries announced plans this week to develop a national recreational fishing policy during its second national Saltwater Recreational Fishing Summit.

The policy will broadly guide future actions and “better integrate recreational fishing with NOAA Fisheries’ mission,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a statement.

“Resolving issues facing our fisheries today requires partnerships between managers, scientists and people who enjoy the resource,” assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries Eileen Sobeck said in a statement. “I commit that NOAA Fisheries will actively engage the recreational fishing community and we will do our part to find cooperative solutions.”

The announcement comes as the marine industry creates momentum on the Morris-Deal Commission, some proposals set forth to better accommodate the needs of recreational saltwater anglers in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the guiding authority on management. The report, called “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Fisheries,” was unveiled at the Miami International Boat Show in February.

More than 100 leaders from the saltwater recreational fishing community met with NOAA Fisheries leadership at the summit, which was held Tuesday and Wednesday of this week in Alexandria, Va., to provide an opportunity to assess recent progress, identify future directions and further strengthen the relationship between the two groups. With nearly 11 million saltwater anglers in the United States, recreational and non-commercial fishermen represent one of NOAA’s largest organized constituencies.

The meeting provided a forum for identifying important issues and collaborative solutions, including discussing the quality of the data used to count and characterize the recreational catch and fishing effort, on-the-water fishing experiences, sharing management priorities and discussing the importance of healthy habitats.

“This summit is the latest in an ongoing conversation with the saltwater recreational fishing community,” said Russell Dunn, NOAA Fisheries’ national policy adviser for recreational fisheries. “NOAA is committed to backing up words with actions like these.”

NOAA Fisheries held the first national saltwater recreational fishing summit in 2010 to kick off the agency’s recreational fishing engagement initiative. The event resulted in the development of national and regional action plans to guide agency activities.

NOAA Fisheries committed to working with the fishing public and to coordinate with its advisory bodies, regional offices and science centers to update the national action plan to reflect ideas exchanged at the summit.

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