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Planned protest seeks Magnuson-Stevens reform

Recreational and commercial fishermen will gather on March 21 near the U.S. Capitol in support of sensible reform of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act.

According to the Recreational Fishing Alliance, which is helping to organize this year's event, permitting efforts have been under way for weeks and official details about the organized protest will be made public in the coming days.

A rally on Feb. 24, 2010, under a United We Fish banner brought 5,000 recreational, commercial and party/charter vessel owners and others in associated businesses from all over the country to Washington. More than two dozen members of the Senate and the House of Representatives addressed the crowd.

The March 21 rally is being billed as Keep Fishermen Fishing, and once again it will unite the commercial and recreational sectors under one common message: “Reform Magnuson now.”

“Those who didn't attend or perhaps chose not to support the original rally are mostly unaware of the great things which were accomplished in between those two winter storms of 2010,” RFA executive director Jim Donofrio said in a statement. “Of the two dozen members of Congress who addressed our troops at the rally, several top legislators pushed to have Magnuson reform initiatives prioritized in Congress, which is why the House Natural Resources Committee is now reviewing eight different pieces of fisheries reform legislation.”

Citing a continuous stream of regulatory requirements that have led to unnecessary and unacceptable restrictions in demonstrably sustainable fisheries, organizers say the American public is being denied access to the food and fun of this tremendous natural resource.

“We've watched access to vital coastal fisheries like cod, summer flounder, black sea bass, red snapper, amberjack, gag grouper and others virtually destroyed during the past five years. This is clearly a huge jobs issue, which has already been recognized by House Speaker John Boehner,” Donofrio said.

"We are seeking bipartisan congressional support to fix our law, to put folks to work and specifically to keep our fishermen fishing,” he added.

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