The ocean waters off national seashores and national parks that touch those waters offer incredible opportunities for recreation, whether it revolves around fishing, boating, or simply swimming. Now efforts are under way to develop a national policy focused on recreational fishing in those and other ocean waters.
Such a policy has been sought by sportfishing and boating groups that want to improve saltwater recreational fishing. And just last week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that it will develop such a policy.
NOAA Fisheries' announcement capped off its national Saltwater Recreational Fishing Summit held April 1-2, in Alexandria, Va.
"With the 'Vision for Managing America's Saltwater Recreational Fisheries' report as our guiding document, we came to the NOAA Summit with a clear vision for where saltwater recreational fisheries management must go," said American Sportfishing Association President and CEO MikeNussman. "NOAA is clearly listening, as evidenced by their immediate commitment to accomplish the first goal of the report: to establish a national policy for saltwater recreational fisheries management. We're looking forward to working with NOAA to accomplish this goal, as well as the other key recommendations presented in the report."
The announcement comes on the heels of a recent series of meetings on Capitol Hill during which the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, co-chaired by Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boats, presented recommendations from "A Vision for Managing America's Saltwater Recreational Fisheries."
This new report outlines recreational fisheries management issues that need to be addressed in the congressional reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, the law that governs the nation's marine resources. Chief among those recommendations is the establishment of a national policy for recreational saltwater fishing.
"In order for our nation to understand and embrace the positive aspects of recreational saltwater fishing in this country - be they the economic, cultural or quality-of-life benefits - our fisheries managers need to have policies and laws that reflect recreational interests," said Mr. Deal. "NOAA has demonstrated it is ready to develop those policies."
The commission, composed of anglers, scientists, former agency administrators, conservationists and economists, as well as prominent members of the industry, wants to ensure that saltwater recreational fishing becomes a priority of NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service. In 2011, approximately 11 million Americans saltwater fished recreationally, making them one of NOAA's largest organized constituencies and one with a substantial economic impact.
"America's 11 million saltwater recreational anglers spent $27 billion in 2011, generating more than $70 billion and sustaining 450,000 jobs," said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. "The importance of this economic sector - and its contributions to fisheries habitat and conservation via excise taxes, donations and license fees - cannot be ignored. We commend NOAA Fisheries for acknowledging it."