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Secretary Ross Indicates Good News Ahead for South Atlantic Snapper Anglers

Secretary Ross, left, with Jim Leffew, vice president of manufacturing at Maverick Boat Group.

Secretary Ross, left, with Jim Leffew, vice president of manufacturing at Maverick Boat Group.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross met with recreational fishing and boating industry leaders at Florida-based Maverick Boat Group last week to discuss recreational fishing access and to hear about the economic impact of the marine industry on the U.S. economy.

After touring the facility, Secretary Ross said his office was finalizing a rule that would require descending devices onboard vessels targeting snapper grouper in the South Atlantic.

Recreational anglers have advocated that descending devices, which help reduce the mortality rate of reef fish after they’re released by reducing barotrauma, be required for those targeting reef fish.

On April 27, a coalition of recreational fishing and boating organizations supported the descending device rule in a public comment letter.

Attendees wore masks and all stayed widely-spaced at the small roundtable.

Attendees wore masks and all stayed widely-spaced at the small roundtable.

During his visit, Secretary Ross addressed the group about challenges facing the marine industry amid the covid-19 pandemic and the actions the administration could take to promote recreational access and spur economic growth.

Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., also participated in the roundtable, along with representatives from Yamaha Outboards, Composites One, Contender Boats, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Pure Fishing, American Sportfishing Association, Shimano, Amera Trail Custom Trailers, and Gemlux Fishing — companies tagged in the Center for Sportfishing Policy’s Facebook post.

Industry stakeholders pointed out that according to NOAA Fisheries, marine recreational fishing is a major driver of the U.S. economy, with America’s 9.8 million saltwater anglers supporting 472,000 jobs and annually contributing $67.9 billion in sales.

“We greatly appreciate Secretary Ross spending time with us this morning to discuss the challenges facing recreational fishing and boating both on and off the water,” said CSP president Jeff Angers in a statement. “Secretary Ross’ visit to Maverick Boat Group demonstrates the Administration’s continued support of growing the outdoor recreation economy and promoting public access to America’s marine resources, especially as our nation recovers from the covid-19 pandemic.”

“We were delighted to welcome Secretary Ross to Fort Pierce for a firsthand look at our manufacturing process,” said Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boat Group. “Powering the recreational fishing and boating industry through these challenging economic times will require support from the Administration on good fisheries policy and fair trade policy. We thank Secretary Ross for discussing these important topics with us today.”

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