3. The user-pay model of fish and wildlife management in the United States is the envy of other nations that care about their natural resources. Tell KeepAmericaFishing members why it is especially important now and how you will support the model and perhaps make it better?
President Barack Obama: America's sportsmen are part of a unique tradition of fish and wildlife management that dates back to the days of Teddy Roosevelt. American anglers have always been willing to contribute their fair share to the conservation of the species and habitats they love. Since the inception of the Wallop-Breaux fund in 1984, anglers have been responsible for more than $2 billion in funds that have been allocated to the states for species and habitat management. With some members of Congress threatening to drastically cut conservation funding, the user-pay model is more important now than ever before. As a self-funded program, the user-pays conservation model should be protected from efforts to redirect the revenues.
Governor Mitt Romney: The user-pay model infuses hundreds of millions of dollars into the system to ensure that our waterways are clean and our fish are abundant, and this prioritization of America's fisheries is incredibility important. However, a Romney Administration will also work to ensure that while our efforts for cleaner water and abundant fish continue, we decrease bureaucracy and inefficiency to ensure that your dollars are being better spent and waste is avoided.
4. A trend in recent years has been to close large areas of the ocean to all fishing, including recreational fishing. Please tell our members whether you support such closures and under what circumstances you would or would not?
President Barack Obama: My administration is working to responsibly manage our nation's oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes to ensure that fishermen can access the local waters they care most about and that those waters support healthy, vibrant populations of fish. I have established a National Ocean Policy to ensure a proactive approach to improving the conservation of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes. We are developing regional plans that bring the states together with regional stakeholders to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy these shared resources and that residents in each region can tailor management to suit their local needs. This policy cuts away red tape and redundancy to best serve the local communities that depend on our oceans and waters.
My administration has worked closely with recreational fishing and hunting groups. Our efforts have engaged these communities to provide advice on recreational issues in numerous ways, including through the Sportfishing and Boating Partnership Council, the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation, and the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council. Throughout the past three years, we've been working with these partners and others to protect and even expand access for sportsmen. While I strongly believe that we need to keep all of our options for fisheries restoration open, I also believe that the public's interest in having access to its natural resources is of great importance.