The first draft of a landmark policy released last Wednesday by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service should foster better understanding and recognition of the cultural, conservation and economic contributions by recreational saltwater anglers among federal law and policy makers and NOAA personnel, a coalition of sportfishing interests stated this afternoon.
NOAA credited conservation and recreational fishing advocacy groups, particularly the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, as the impetus for the agency developing this policy. The so-called Morris-Deal Commission, named for co-chairs Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boats, met throughout 2013 to develop recommendations for federal laws and policies dealing with saltwater angling. The commission outlined its recommendations in a report, “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries,” released in February 2014.
Comprised of state and federal fisheries managers, biologists, economists and conservationists, the Morris-Deal Commission was organizedby the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, American Sportfishing Association, Berkley Conservation Institute, Center for Coastal Conservation, Coastal Conservation Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and National Marine Manufacturers Association, among others.
“The Commission on Recreational Saltwater Fisheries Management considered development of this policy a critical first step in establishing better laws and policies to govern recreational saltwater fishing,” Deal said. “That’s why it is at the top of our list of recommendations to law and policy makers. NOAA is to be commended for quickly responding to this recommendation and for working with the recreational fishing community to compile substantive input to help craft this landmark policy.”
Other recommendations made by the commission include adoption of a revised approach to saltwater recreational fisheries management, judicious allocation of marine fisheries, reasonable latitude in stock rebuilding timelines, codification of a process for cooperative management and managing for the forage base.
“A sound policy that guides NOAA’s approach to managing our nation’s saltwater recreational fisheries is essential to the agency’s recognizing the significant cultural, conservation and economic role of angling,” said American Sportfishing Association President Mike Nussman. “This draft has given us a starting point to continue our work with NOAA in developing more consistent, conservation-based management – approaches that maximize opportunity for the more than 11 million Americans who enjoy recreational saltwater fishing.”
NOAA conducted dozens of public engagement meetings across the country since announcing last April its intent to craft a national saltwater recreational fisheries policy. The TRCP and its sportfishing partners worked with NOAA extensively throughout the process, providing written comments and facilitating opportunities for public engagement by anglers.
“The recreational saltwater fishing community and NOAA are working more closely than ever to create policies and standards that promote conservation and better reflect the consistent seasons and access enjoyed by other sportsmen, whether they be freshwater anglers, waterfowlers or big game hunters,” said Chris Macaluso, director of the TRCP Center for Marine Fisheries. “Sportsmen have consistently been leaders in crafting sound, conservation-based recreational management policies. Now, NOAA is providing us the opportunity to lead once again in the development of policies managing our saltwater recreational fisheries.”
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