Last week, with spring fishing season in full swing, recreational fishing industry leaders met with Members of Congress to advocate not just for the industry’s business interests, but for the entire recreational fishing community. They were also in Washington, D.C., for the American Sportfishing Association’s (ASA) annual spring Government Affairs Committee meeting.
On April 15, the Government Affairs committee held a special session in the U.S. Capitol Building to meet with invited Members of Congress. In the afternoon, the committee branched off into smaller groups and collectively met with Congressional office staff from states across the country.
Over the course of the day, committee members met with more than two dozen Members of Congress or their staff, including leadership of key Congressional committees that oversee fisheries and natural resource management.
The top federal legislative issues the committee discussed with Congressional offices included passage of the Sportsmen’s Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act reauthorization and reauthorization of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. Other key regional issues discussed with relevant offices included the proposed marine reserve in Biscayne National Park (Florida), impacts of the drought on California salmon and federal mismanagement of Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper which impacts the entire Gulf area.
“This was a great opportunity for our members and legislators to meet face-to-face and talk about issues of critical importance to the sportfishing industry,” said ASA Government Affairs Vice President Scott Gudes. “Our elected officials need to hear first-hand from industry leaders from across the country about the importance of salt and freshwater recreational fishing to the economy, to jobs and to conservation to help ensure that our sport is enjoyed by future generations.”
The ASA Government Affairs Committee is comprised of 30 individuals, representing a wide array of industry members from across the country. The committee meets twice a year to discuss key legislative and regulatory issues affecting the industry and to guide ASA’s positions and activities regarding these issues.
“In my opinion, this was the most productive Government Affairs Committee meeting to date,” said Bill Shedd, president of AFTCO Manufacturing Company, Inc. and ASA Government Affairs Committee Chairman. “The organization, content, access to legislators and ideas from this meeting were awesome. Given the increasing amount of federal issues affecting recreational fishing, from public access to tax issues to marine fisheries management, it’s extremely important for the industry to meet with lawmakers and raise awareness for the social, economic and conservation benefits of recreational fishing.”
During its meeting, the Government Affairs committee passed a motion to develop a comprehensive education campaign on the important role anglers and boaters play in fisheries conservation funding. Working with partners in the recreational fishing community, the campaign will target fisheries managers, legislators and the general public to raise awareness of the more than $1 billion that anglers and boaters contribute annually to fisheries conservation and public access projects through fishing license fees and excise taxes.
The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry’s trade association committed to representing the interests of the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry a unified voice, speaking out on behalf of sportfishing and boating industries, state and federal natural resource agencies, conservation organizations, angler advocacy groups and outdoor journalists when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. ASA invests in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous, as well as safeguard and promote the enduring social, economic and conservation values of sportfishing in America. ASA also gives America’s 60 million anglers a voice in policy decisions that affect their ability to sustainably fish on our nation’s waterways through KeepAmericaFishing™, our angler advocacy campaign. America’s anglers generate over $48 billion in retail sales with a $115 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating employment for more than 828,000 people.