PETOSKEY, Mich. — At its Midwest Media Event on Lake Michigan, the Yamaha Marine Group launched a fishing access advocacy program that aims to unite the freshwater and saltwater worlds for a stronger national voice in Washington, D.C.
The initiative, called “Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation,” will use a website — bassforsalt.com — to mobilize anglers to become grassroots advocates for fisheries by asking lawmakers to support legislation that protects the rights of recreational fishing, according to Martin Peters, Yamaha's manager for government relations.
"It's really important for us to get this right,” he said. “Fishing advocacy can't be just a coastal issue. It has to be a national grass-roots effort in any area where fishing access is threatened.”
Yamaha introduced the program during a three-day media event at the Inn at Bay Harbor to promote its freshwater outboards — the V MAX SHO series — in the Midwest market. Nine boats were rigged with Yamaha outboards.
Scott Deal, president of the Maverick Boat Co. and a leader of the industry’s efforts to support fishing in Washington, is excited about the Yamaha program.
“The access battles that saltwater fishermen face today could well morph into battles freshwater fishermen face tomorrow,” Deal told me this morning. “It’s about access, and all fishermen need to pull together to support each other’s rights to participate in one of the greatest and most American of activities. This forward-thinking initiative is just one more example of how our folks are finally beginning to understand how powerful we can be if we simply work together to tell our story ... the more people that hear it, the better.”
Anglers can visit the site and endorse one of several pre-written advocacy letters that will be sent electronically to the advocating angler’s lawmaker. A big part of the effort is achieving a Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization that is favorable to the marine industry and recreational anglers.
"If we don't get this entire country mobilized, the chances of getting [Magnuson-Stevens] through are slim," Peters said.
Deal and he and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris co-chaired a commission that drafted a report urging changes in Magnuson-Stevens to give recreational anglers a voice at the table.
Peters pointed out that the interests of freshwater and saltwater anglers overlap. Case in point: Many freshwater anglers fish the Gulf of Mexico, where red snapper season limitations have hampered recreational fishing. (This year, there were only eight weeks available for red snapper fishing, Peters said.)
Peters said there are more than 22 million freshwater anglers who can “lend a powerful voice to their 11 million saltwater brethren.” Bass fishing has an established, passionate and loyal fan base that’s primed for grassroots advocacy through partnerships with organizations such as B.A.S.S. (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society), Peters said.