Asking the Important Questions

I just left the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) Saltwater Media Summit in Sarasota Florida yesterday. And my four hour drive back across the state provided me with an opportunity to reflect on some of the discussion that took place during the summit. For those unfamiliar with TRCP they are a non-profit based in Washington DC with the following mission:

In order to guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish, we strengthen laws, policies and practices affecting fish and wildlife conservation by leading partnerships that influence decision makers.

The objective of the summit was to get influential members of the media together with leaders in the recreational fishing industry and fisheries scientists to discuss important issues and challenges facing the recreational fishing community. The TRCP has done similar type summits for the freshwater fishing and hunting communities. However, this was their first in the realm of saltwater fishing.

Many of the topics you would think that would be discussed, were discussed. These include catch shares, proposed amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, National Oceans Policy, and NOAA Fisheries, in general. In the process of discussing these important issues, some broader, more philosophical concepts rose to the surface, such as:

1. Why do we still manage on maximum sustainable yield (i.e. how many fish can we kill and remove from a stock before it collapses) as opposed to maximum economic yield (i.e. how many fish are needed in a stock to produce maximum economic benefits to the country as a whole)?

2. Why do states seem to manage fish stocks under their charge better than the federal government manages fish stocks under their charge?

3. Is it ok to work with the same environmental NGO's who are threatening our industry on some fronts, and if so, when?

4. The US recreational saltwater fishing industry is a big business generating tens of billions of dollars in economic activity and hundreds of thousands of jobs. So why is there not a long term business plan for such a big and important business in the US? And who should be responsible for putting together such a plan?

5. Why are there not more private donors contributing money to improving recreational fishing in the US?

Some answers may appear simple, but in reality they are all quite complex. All recreational anglers in the US should be concerned with the answers to these questions. Think about it. I would love to hear your thoughts, before providing my own.