Suddenly, this country’s recreational fishermen seem to matter.
That’s been a long time coming.
Of course, we know we’ve mattered — certainly economically (to the tune of billions of dollars annually) — for many years. But lately, recognition of the importance for angler access to fish and fishing is on the upswing.
The proof of that can be seen on several fronts, including:
An expanded, far more generous federal season for anglers to catch red snapper this year in Gulf of Mexico federal waters;
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries rejecting a petition by several environmental groups to list Pacific bluefin tuna as an endangered species, thereby preserving recreational fishermen’s access off California;
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross agreeing with New Jersey (and against the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission) last August to allow anglers to continue catching summer flounder;
A statement in an exclusive online interview with Sport Fishing magazine in September wherein Chris Oliver, the new head of NOAA Fisheries (National Marine Fisheries Service), reaffirms the “need to recognize these differences [between commercial and recreational fishing] and, where appropriate, use different management approaches to ensure both communities thrive.”
Further proof of the recognition that sport fishing matters can be found in a flurry of activity on the part of some large environmental groups that apparently took note of this.
They nervously decry the increasing willingness among the nation’s federal lawmakers to consider amending the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the nation’s primary fisheries law. Groups such as the National Resources Defense Council labeled an effort to amend MSA as the “Empty Oceans Act.” Pew and the Environmental Defense Fund say amending MSA would move us backward.