In a sweeping show of solidarity among saltwater fishing stakeholders, the Recreational Fishing Alliance is endorsing a vision for managing saltwater fisheries to give recreational anglers a voice.
“This is really a landmark,” National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich told Trade Only Today. “If we’re going to be successful [in having recreational boating and fishing interests represented], we’re going to need everybody pulling on the same oar, and today we’ve got that probably for the first time in history.”
The RFA joins a host of other industry and fisheries stakeholder groups, including the NMMA, Yamaha Marine Group, the American Sportfishing Association, the Coastal Conservation Association and the Center for Coastal Conservation in support of "A Vision for Managing America's Saltwater Recreational Fisheries.”
Industry stakeholders have increasingly pushed for the law governing saltwater fishing — the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act — to specifically address the economic, social and conservation needs of recreational fishing.
Additionally, the Morris-Deal vision calls for the needs of recreational fishing to be differentiated from those of commercial fishing in the Magnuson-Stevens law, which is up for reauthorization.
"The RFA is pleased to support the tenets developed by the Morris-Deal vision," RFA founder and executive director Jim Donofrio said in a statement.
"For the first time in many years, the industry and angler groups are united behind a common-sense framework that addresses many of the policy issues that remain after the last reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act in 2007,” he said.
The RFA agrees “wholeheartedly with the policy objectives set out in Morris-Deal,” Donofrio said. “The goals of anglers and the marine industry have always been conservation, rebuilding and access, and now, with the proper tools in place, we can accomplish all of them by working together."
The Morris-Deal vision recommends that reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens act include:
- Adopting a revised approach to saltwater recreational fisheries management
- Allocating marine fisheries for the greatest benefit to the nation
- Creating reasonable latitude in stock rebuilding timelines
- Codifying a process for cooperative management
- Managing for the forage base
Martin Peters, manager of the Yamaha Marine Group’s government relations, said the RFA has long represented the needs of saltwater anglers in the United States and that the unification would benefit the whole industry.
"As a result of this endorsement, we become a stronger voice for the U.S. recreational fishing community,” Peters said, adding that he became an RFA member on Tuesday. “When anglers everywhere raise a unified voice to Washington, D.C., we send a message that cannot be ignored, and with RFA's endorsement of the Morris-Deal vision our coalition takes a very important step toward achieving sound policy for the good of the American angler.”
"Everyone welcomes RFA's formal embrace of the of the Morris-Deal Vision,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. "Morris-Deal continues to gain momentum, and we look forward to additional endorsements of the Vision as it works it’s way through the Congress."
At a time when Congress has a hard time moving when everyone agrees, it is particularly important to have everyone on the same page, Dammrich said.
“We weren’t being as successful as we need to be,” he said. “We basically sat down to talk about what the real issues were and we realized that, frankly, there was a lot more agreement than disagreement. I think everybody agreed that we needed to work together in an environment of respect and trust and … it’s been working.”
“The only way we’re going to be successful for saltwater recreational fishing in this country is with a unified front,” Dammrich said.