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July 23, 2012

Exclusive Interview: Obama Talks Fisheries

Q&A with President Obama on key fisheries issues

Issue 4 - Changes in Noaa/Recreational Fisheries Management

Background: For many years, there has been debate about whether Commerce is the right federal department to contain the National Marine Fisheries Service. Certainly the recreational-fishing community has long noted the agency’s origins in and continuing emphasis on developing commercial fishing/fisheries, part of the reason that the trust recreational anglers have in NOAA Fisheries to manage them and their fisheries is at an all-time low.

SPORT FISHING: Would your administration act to move the management of saltwater fisheries into another department, such as the Department of the Interior, and/or in some other way make NOAA Fisheries more responsive to the particular needs of its recreational-angling constituency?

OBAMA: I have proposed moving NOAA to the Department of Interior, streamlining these two agencies with similar missions to make them more efficient and effective for taxpayers and their customers, including the recreational-fishing community. Sportsmen and the organizations that represent them have a long and successful history of working with the Department of Interior to help guide natural-resource management in a manner that balances maximum access with scientific management.

Along with that transition, I am committed to supporting the programs vital to America’s fishing industry and sport fishermen, and ensuring that science remains the foundation of ocean management. That is why I will continue to support targeted investments in fisheries research and observation. These programs support a fishing economy built to last.

Issue 5 - Why Angers Should Vote for You This Year

SPORT FISHING: Within 500 words, tell this country’s 13 million recreational saltwater anglers why it’s in their best interest to vote for you.

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 more than 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.

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 have created a new senior adviser position within NOAA focused on recreational fishing, hosted a recreational fishing summit, developed an Action Agenda based on input from the summit, and met 80 percent of the near-term goals established by that agenda within a year. The recommendations and subsequent actions that have resulted from our work in this area will pay great dividends to both our marine environment and our coastal economy.

I am committed to pursuing 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, which is targeting ecological problems such as invasive species, toxic hot spots, polluted runoff from farms and cities, and declining wildlife habitat. We 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. We have also invested more than $1.4 billion in Everglades’ restoration, helping to keep my promise to fully fund the federal partnership for Everglades’ restoration and helping restore tens of thousands of acres, which will serve as a sanctuary for native Florida plants and wildlife. We are also directing additional funding to Gulf Coast restoration to further bring back the fisheries and coastal ecosystems, which are still recovering in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon spill.

When it comes to recreational fishing, I will continue to prioritize wise investments in science and management initiatives that result in more accurate assessments of the state of our fish stocks, and ultimately provide more fishing opportunity. I will encourage the rapid transition of data to policy, and a balanced approach that permits adequate access to fishing today while we ensure that fish are here tomorrow for our children and our grandchildren to enjoy.