7. Recreational fishing has a $125 billion economic impact on the Nation each year and supports over a million jobs. As a President, what are the three most important things you can do for recreational fishing in America?
President Barack Obama: I am committed to ensuring that our nation's vast natural resources are used responsibly, and that we maintain healthy oceans and coasts. We have created or enhanced more than 540 public coastal recreation areas, protected more than 54,000 acres of coastlines and restored over 5,200 acres of coastal habitat. And we are working to ensure the integrity of the waters Americans rely on every day for drinking, swimming and fishing, by supporting initiatives that restore our rivers and watersheds. Over the next four years, I will continue this important work, specifically:
• Ensuring recreational anglers have a voice. We know that sportsmen have always been some of the strongest advocates for conservation, and recreational fishermen will always have a seat at the table in my administration. We will also continue working with recreational fishing organizations, the country's leading fishery scientists and state agencies on a bottom up approach to data collection and conserving our fisheries.
• Continuing to pursue strategies that encourage conservation of our national lands and waters. We are taking important steps to restore treasured landscapes that support recreation across the country. We kicked off the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades, are cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, establishing a "pollution diet" for the Bay that will help restore the natural habitat for fish and other wildlife in Maryland and Virginia, and directing additional funding to Gulf Coast restoration to ensure the long-term health of the fisheries and coastal ecosystems which are still recovering in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon spill.
• Prioritizing wise investments in science and management initiatives that result in more accurate assessments of the state of our fish stocks, and ultimately lead to more fishing opportunities. I will encourage the rapid transition of data to policy, and a balanced approach that permits adequate access to fishing.
Governor Mitt Romney: First, I will work to get this economy back on track so that Americans can enjoy the pastimes they love. Secondly, I will work to make government smaller, simpler, and smarter and to turn back the regulatory tide of the Obama Administration that has created red tape first and ignored your input. I realize that recreational angling can be an incredible economic engine, but it is being shackled by misguided, over-reaching regulations that make little economic or conservation sense. Lastly, I would consider individuals for my administration that share my vision for a more prosperous America that protects and understands our national traditions and values. My administration will focus on bringing a new philosophy into fisheries management that will put the focus back on commonsense regulations that can protect and rebuild fisheries when necessary, but will also allow anglers greater access to healthy marine resources.
8. Question specific to their term of office (see below).
As President you initiated a new national ocean policy that anglers fear poses serious questions about the future of recreational access to our nation's waters. In your second term what plans do you have for that policy initiative, and can you provide assurance that large areas of public waters will not be unnecessarily closed through this policy?
President Barack Obama: There has been a lot of talk surrounding the National Ocean Policy, so let me set the record straight: the new policy in no way restricts any ocean, coastal, or Great Lakes activity. By establishing a National Ocean Policy, I made it a priority of the federal government 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 this shared resource and residents in each region can tailor its 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.
Some claim that this kind of planning is intended to deprive fishermen of access to our ocean waters. Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, our goal is to allow all users of the ocean – including recreational fishermen – have a voice in how our ocean waters are managed.
Recreational fishermen have an important role to play in this policy, and we have gone to great lengths to ensure their voices are heard as part of the process. The sportfishing community reached out to during the initial planning process. We've asked each region to bring fishermen into the decision making process to create more opportunities for sports fishermen to share what works for them in the parts of the coast they know best.
When you were Governor of Massachusetts you proposed diverting hunting and fishing license fees to other programs, then reconsidered after anglers and hunters and angler/hunter groups expressed opposition. Why did you make that proposal and what did you learn from the experience that caused you to withdraw it?
Governor Mitt Romney: When I was elected governor of Massachusetts there was a $3 million budget deficit, and I went to work examining every agency and program to close that gap. I was determined to get my state back on strong fiscal footing. I reconsidered the decision to divert license fees after I received input from local stakeholders, both anglers and others, who expressed to me why this decision should be reconsidered. Once I understood what this diversion of funds will do, I reversed course and found another way to leave my state with a $2 million rainy day fund when I left office. This is the same attitude I will bring to the presidency. I have a plan to get this economy back on track, but I also understand the importance of hearing out state and local agencies and fishermen themselves when these types of decisions are made
Orginianlly Published by KeepAmericaFishing at http://www.keepamericafishing.org/youdecide