Yamaha Motor Corp.’s recently launched governmental advocacy program to support the nation’s fisheries is off to a fast start, the company says.
“The goal is to unite the freshwater and saltwater worlds for a stronger national voice in Washington,” says Martin Peters, Yamaha’s manager for government relations.
Launched June 1, Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation is using a website — bassforsalt.com — to ignite a countrywide effort to protect recreational fishing access and to fight for its protection by lobbying lawmakers.
“I am amazed at the response so far,” Yamaha president Ben Speciale told Trade Only in early July. “We have 6,000 letters already sent to Congress — 6,000 people decided to do something. That is a great number and one we can really build on.”
From the get-go, Yamaha has been promoting the program aggressively. The engine maker dedicated a chunk of its media event in June to make journalists aware of BASC. The media event, held June 17-19 at the Inn at Bay Harbor on Lake Michigan in Petoskey, Mich., also turned a spotlight on Yamaha’s latest freshwater outboards — the V MAX SHO series — in the Midwest market.
Yamaha used the event to announce the introduction of a 25-inch-shaft to its 150- and 250-hp freshwater V MAX SHO high-performance outboards. Another nuance announced was that Yamaha’s Helm Master control system (with joystick steering) is now available for twin applications of its F200 outboard.
“We really see huge potential for our engines in the Midwest,” Yamaha product information manager David Meeler says. “The call for our engines on large pontoon boats has been very strong, even surprising to us.”
Trade Only tested the engines on nine boats — three pontoons, three bass boats and three multipurpose aluminum fishing boats. Participating builders were Alumacraft, Skeeter, Bennington, Starcraft, Ranger, Manitou, Xpress and Premier.
The boats ranged from 12 to 27 feet. Four were powered with the 25-inch versions of the 150- and 250-hp outboards.
Yamaha was serious about getting writers out on the water to fish, too. The company had pro bass anglers Robert Blosser and Joe Okada talk about the species found in Lake Michigan, focusing on walleye. They described the rods, reels, techniques and boats that anglers would use to land fish. They even handed out three walleye recipes, and Okada told us about a can’t-miss appetizer: chunks of fish boiled in 7UP soda.
“But don’t use Diet [7UP] because you need that sugar,” he says. “Dip them in butter, and you’re golden.”
Peters says the event was the perfect venue to push BASC. “It’s really important for us to get this right,” he told an audience of 50 journalists, boat company representatives and Yamaha staff members. “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.”
Anglers can visit the website and endorse one of several prewritten advocacy letters that can be sent via Yamaha to their individual lawmakers.
“If we don’t get this entire country mobilized, the chances of getting this through are slim,” Peters says.
Speciale says the fishing advocacy movement stands out as Yamaha’s top legislative priority, followed by ethanol and future governmental laws on marine engines.
“The marine industry associations and [Yamaha] have got to be very active,” Special says. “The biggest hindrance to the industry is governmental regulation. If our voices aren’t heard about issues that are important to us, we are going to wake up and be surprised. It’s great to make people aware of an issue through articles and media, but you have to have a call to action.”
The site includes blog entries from well-known anglers, such as Rick Murphy, host of the Fox Sports television show “Sportsman’s Adventures with Captain Rick Murphy.”
“Remember that the general public owns the resource, so no one body of fishermen should have any control over the harvest,” he writes. “The fish should be governed by science. The economics of the industry provide the commercial sector with great power, and when it comes to the government regulating and allocating the harvest of fish, the needle usually tips toward the hand of those who are making a living fishing.”
The site highlights four issues of concentration for the group: access, safety, conservation and economics.
Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boat Co. and a leader in the industry’s effort 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 says. “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.”
Deal and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris co-chaired a commission that drafted a report urging changes in Magnuson-Stevens to give recreational anglers more of a voice at the table.
Freshwater and saltwater anglers
Peters points out that those voices should include freshwater and saltwater anglers because the groups have common interests. Case in point: Many freshwater anglers fish the Gulf of Mexico, where red snapper season limitations have hindered recreational fishing. (This year, there were only eight weeks available for red snapper fishing, Peters says.)
Peters says there are more than 22 million freshwater anglers who can “lend a powerful voice to their 11 million saltwater brethren.” Bass fishing has a passionate and loyal base that’s primed for grassroots advocacy through partnerships with such organizations as B.A.S.S. (the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society), Peters says.
“By uniting as one voice, America’s 33 million recreational anglers can have a huge impact,” Peters says.
This article originally appeared in the August 2015 issue.