With the vast expanse of the Chesapeake Bay as his backdrop, on October 20, 2007, President Bush signed an Executive Order establishing gamefish status for striped bass and red drum in federal waters, moving another step forward in conserving two of the most popular game fish in the United States.
"This Executive Order has the full support of the sportfishing industry. By signing the order, the President sends the right message about the need to ensure that striped bass and red drum endure as a species and as sport fish to be enjoyed by anglers now and for generations to come," said Mike Nussman, American Sportfishing Association (ASA) president and CEO. "We have been working with a number of organizations for years to see that this critical conservation measure came to be, and we applaud the President for his action."
In his remarks, the President highlighted the economic importance that America's 40 million anglers have on the nation's economy and acknowledged the recreational, economic and environmental benefits that conserving these two species will have now and on future generations of Americans.
This Executive Order directs the Commerce and Interior Departments to put regulations in place to establish gamefish status for red drum and striped bass in federal waters. In his remarks, the President made it clear that he also supports improving the quality of data available for managing our fish stocks. The President said, "We're going to count on the people who really care about the fish stocks to get good, solid, sound information so we can do a better job not only today, but tomorrow, in making sure our fisheries are strong."
Due to intense overfishing, both striped bass and red drum were nearly decimated in the 1970s and into the 1980s. This decline led to a drive by recreational anglers to curtail the harvest of these species by imposing federal moratoriums on commercial and recreational striped bass and red drum fishing in federal waters. The President's Executive Order would ban the commercial sale of red drum and striped bass in federal waters. A number of states already prohibit the sale of these fish caught in state waters.
Nussman further said, "Recreational anglers are among this nation's most ardent conservationists. By supporting this Executive Order, we show our commitment to conserving our nation's resources and protecting our heritage."