Governor Mitt Romney: I agree that it is important to prevent overfishing; however, I will only support these decisions when they are based on sound science and local input from stakeholders. This information should be up to date and accurately reflect the condition of the waters. Our fisheries are incredibly important to preserve and maintain, but we must make fully informed decisions when closing large areas of the ocean. I will not close access to fishing except in a case of last resort to protect the productivity of a fishery, certainly not to appease special interests. This hurts the local economies for no reason.
5. A most egregious case of a heavy-handed federal government action is the closure of beaches to fishing and other recreational activities at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area in North Carolina. These closures extend far beyond common sense and what is needed for resource protection, and as a result are devastating a community that depends on tourism generated by public access. Anglers fear that the same approach is about to be used in Biscayne National Park in Florida. If (re) elected as President, how will you prevent these types of over-reach by the federal government?
President Barack Obama: My administration is committed to maintaining fishing opportunities for America's fishermen. That is why the Cape Hatteras National Seashore remains open to fishing. As a result of an extensive public process, some restrictions on Off-Road Vehicle Use in the Seashore have been implemented to protect endangered species. The Park Service plan attempts to strike a balance between numerous uses of the seashore, as required by law. Even with those restrictions, fishing tournaments that existed before 2009 are grandfathered in, and fishermen participating in those tournaments will still be allowed to access the Seashore with ORVs. To date, tourism revenues in Dare County, where the Seashore is located, have held steady or increased. If re-elected, my administration will continue to look for ways to maintain or increase fishing opportunities for recreational fishermen.
Governor Mitt Romney: As president, I will take a very different approach to resource protection than President Obama. His policies have been crafted with great input from D.C. bureaucrats and with very little say from local and states agencies and the fishermen who know the waters best. A Romney Administration will highly value the input of these local entities, understanding the integral part they play in keeping our waters clean and our fish supply abundant. No one wants our resources protected more than the anglers themselves. I understand this and will make decision that lean heavily on input from those on the ground.
6. Invasive species pose a significant threat to many of our nation's waterways, including the Great Lakes where Asian carp are right on the doorstep and threatening the region's $7 billion sportfishing economy. What will you do to control the introduction and spread of harmful invasive species?
President Barack Obama: My Administration has taken an aggressive, unprecedented approach to protect our Great Lakes and the communities and economies that depend on them from the threat of Asian carp. We are working to maintain this ecosystem, which represents the nation's largest source of fresh surface water and is a cornerstone of local jobs and the regional economy.
We kicked off the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades, which is targeting ecological problems such as invasive species, toxic hot spots, polluted runoff from farms and cities and declining wildlife habitat.
We are working tirelessly on an unprecedented effort to halt the spread of Asian carp, which are threatening the Great Lakes ecosystem. We have launched multiple efforts to encourage state, local and federal authorities to coordinate in their efforts to mitigate the spread of Asian Carp, while deploying enhanced, more efficient systems to monitor and capture Asian carp, including undertaking extensive testing to determine whether the destructive fish have established a foothold in the lakes. My administration has also enhanced the fish barrier system to include strengthened electric barriers, physical barricades to stop carp migration during floods, and closed off smaller waterway connections to the Great Lakes. And in May, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would accelerate its planning process and develop options for permanent fixes for presentation to Congress in 2013 – 2 years ahead of its previous schedule.
Governor Mitt Romney: The Great Lakes have literally shaped my home state and are an important part of my personal history. I am deeply concerned about the threat posed to the Lakes by invasive species from the Mississippi River basin, and I am outraged that five years after Congress ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to identify a solution that we are still years away from a recommendation. America put a man on the moon in less time than that. As president, I will accelerate the Army Corps process and ensure that they develop a plan as soon as possible to protect both the ecology and economy of the region. By taking immediate action to address this threat, while also continuing with restoration efforts, we can meet our obligation to the future generations for whom we hold this magnificent fresh water resource in trust.