The recreational fishing industry welcomed the action taken by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to recognize the significant economic, social and conservation benefits that saltwater recreational fishing provides to the nation.
The five senators recently sent a letter to the Senate Commerce Committee leadership requesting that the recreational fishing community's priorities are adequately represented in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) reauthorization. The MSA is the primary law governing federal marine fisheries management. The five senators also serve on the Senate Commerce Committee.
“The recreational fishing industry thanks Sens. Blunt, Klobuchar, McCaskill, Johnson and Manchin for championing the effort to ensure that managing saltwater recreational fisheries is not just a coastal issue, but one of national significance,” said Scott Gudes, vice president of Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). “For example, many manufacturers who produce saltwater fishing gear, accessories and apparel are found in inland states, and anglers from across the U.S. country fish in saltwater.”
In the letter, the senators say, “The management model established in MSA has a commercial fishing foundation, which is a fundamentally different activity than recreational fishing. While both of these sectors are vitally important to the nation, they are unique from each other and therefore require different management approaches. Therefore, it is important that the priorities of the recreational fishing community are incorporated in the upcoming MSA reauthorization.”
A bill to reauthorize MSA, H.R. 1335, passed the U.S. House of Representatives on June 1, 2015. The final House bill was supported by the nation's leading recreational fishing and boating organizations for including provisions reflective of the recommendations of the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, also known as the Morris-Deal Commission, named after co-chairs John Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boats.
The U.S. Senate has not yet taken up a full MSA reauthorization bill, which would originate in the Senate Commerce Committee.
“Congress has a tremendous opportunity through the MSA reauthorization to elevate recreational fishing within our federal fisheries management system to the level of attention it deserves,” said ASA's Ocean Resource Policy Director Mike Leonard. “The Morris-Deal Commission set forth a roadmap for the future of saltwater fisheries management, and we call upon Congress to enact the needed legislative changes to help maximize saltwater recreational fishing's benefits to the nation.”
Click here to read the commission's report and their recommendations to enhance saltwater recreational fisheries.