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April 02, 2014

First-Ever National Policy on Recreational Fishing Announced

Recreational-fishing community leaders look for more parity in federal fisheries management

At the conclusion of a national Saltwater Recreational Fishing Summit in Alexandria, Virginia, held on April 1 and 2, Eileen Sobeck generated enthusiastic applause by promising more than 100 recreational-fishing-community leaders that “We will start work on a formal NOAA Fisheries policy on [saltwater] recreational fishing.”

Sobeck, the recently appointed assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries, said in a subsequent statement, “NOAA Fisheries will actively engage the recreational-fishing community, and we  will do our part to find cooperative solutions.”

“I was really happy to hear this news directly from Ms. Sobeck as we closed,” Jeff Angers told me at the summit. Angers, president of the Coastal Conservation Commission, served on the steering committee for the recent report, “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries.”

“That committee placed a need for a national saltwater recreational-fishing policy as its first priority because policy matters. When an agency like NOAA can follow clear direction from a policy, that’s a recipe for success.”

The two-day national summit, patterned after a similar summit four years earlier, was intended to assess progress in managing recreational fisheries during the past four years, identify future direction and strengthen a working relationship between administrators and recreational-fishing interests.

“For too long, NOAA has been focused on commercial fisheries,” Mike Nussman, president of the American Sportfishing Association, says. “We applaud the agency for this important step that looks to the future of our sport.”

Echoing that sentiment, Russell Dunn — NOAA Fisheries national policy advisor for recreational fisheries — says, “NOAA is committed to backing up words with actions like these.”