President signs order protecting boating access

WASHINGTON – President Bush has signed an amendment to a 1995 Executive Order to protect recreational boating and fishing access on federal waters and marine protected areas, the National Marine Manufacturers Association reported in a release Friday.

The amendment also ensures that fishing will be managed as a sustainable activity in national wildlife refuges, national parks, national monuments, marine sanctuaries, marine protected areas or any other relevant conservation or management area under federal authority. It also provides new and clear direction to federal agencies charged with management of natural resources, NMMA said.

NMMA, in partnership with a number of fishing and conservation groups, has long been concerned with recent trends to unduly restrict public access to marine resources held in public trust. Given the potential that the President could designate large swaths of new protected areas through Executive Order, bypassing the typical rulemaking and stakeholder consultation process, NMMA and partners engaged in high-level negotiations with White House officials to help ensure responsible open access, according to the release.

“Given the many other issues facing Washington this week, we applaud the President for recognizing the role recreational boaters and anglers play in conservation,” said National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich. “This Order re-establishes a long-standing federal policy to allow and encourage access to public lands and waters for recreational purposes consistent with resource protection.”

NMMA worked closely with the American Sportfishing Association along with the Billfish Foundation, Center for Coastal Conservation, Coastal Conservation Association, International Game Fish Association and the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation to finalize this amendment.

This amendment comes on the heels of an Aug. 25 Executive Memo to the Secretaries of Defense, Interior and Commerce and the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality that directed a study towards potential marine protected areas in the central Pacific Ocean, NMMA said.

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