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Recreational Fishing To Be Allowed in New Marine Monument

A newly designated marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean off the New England Coast will allow recreational fishing.

September 15, 2016
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trolling off new england
Big-game anglers will be able to continue trolling through an area the size of Connecticut that constitutes the new national monument. Sam Hudson / Sport Fishing

Ongoing concerns in the recreational fishing and boating community that sport fishermen would end up shut out of any new marine monument established in the Atlantic ended today as the federal government prepares to formally announce the new Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. Located some 150 miles off the Massachusetts Coast, an area of nearly 5,000 square miles will be protected from extractive uses such as mining, commercial fishing and drilling.

A key concept in the decision allowing recreational fishing to continue within the monument is the recognition that the nature of sport fishing is very different from fishing by large industrial-fishing vessels.

“The recreational fishing and boating community applauds the decision by President Obama to differentiate public use from commercial extraction of marine resources by including recreational fishing as an allowable activity” in the new monument, says Mike Nussman, ASA president and CEO.

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map of new national marine monument
The new Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is the first of its kind in the Atlantic. Courtesy NOAA

“For many years, the recreational fishing community has worked to educate legislators and decision-makers on the social, conservation and economic benefits that recreational fishing provides to the nation,” Nussman adds. “Recreational fishing and resource conservation go hand-in-hand. We are grateful that the Obama Administration has taken a thoughtful approach to designating marine monuments in a way that recognizes the importance of allowing the public to access and enjoy these precious areas.”

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument contains deep sea corals and other unique and fragile marine habitats. These areas are also popular offshore fishing spots for anglers who target billfish, tuna and mahi mahi near the ocean surface. Nussman says that, during the marine monument designation discussions, the recreational fishing and boating community advocated that recreational fishing should be allowed to continue because, among other reasons, the type of recreational fishing that occurred in these areas has no interaction with the bottom habitats that are being protected.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates a consistent commitment by the Administration to recognize the importance of recreational activities, including recreational boating and fishing, within a marine monument,” says Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “We are pleased to support federal actions that promote conservation while allowing responsible user access.”

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The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is the third marine monument created or expanded by President Obama. The previous two decisions, which designated areas near Hawaii and remote Pacific islands, also allowed for recreational fishing.

“Summarily removing the public from public waters is not the way to properly manage our oceans, and it is encouraging that this Administration recognized how critical it is for conservationists to be connected to the environment they work to protect,” Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association, says. “Recreational fishing and marine conservation are not only compatible, but complimentary, and we are glad to see that angling will continue to be managed as a sustainable activity in these areas.”

“Recreational fishing and commercial fishing are fundamentally different activities,” points out Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “Recognizing this difference is important to fisheries management and to marine conservation. This precedent is meaningful for anglers and hopefully can inform better decision making for federal fisheries managers.”

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