RFA urges action on marine sanctuaries, welcomes new commerce secretary

The Recreational Fishing Alliance on Thursday extended its congratulations to newly appointed U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, Jr.,and at the same time urged the new secretary to slow the creation of new marine sanctuaries.

"We're hopeful that, with Secretary Ross's business experience and President Trump's leadership, the recreational fishing industry will grow and more fishing opportunities will become available," said Jim Donofrio, the RFA's executive director.

According to the RFA, for the past eight years the sport fishing industry has been "saddled with unnecessary regulations largely driven by agenda instead of science." Those policies have weakened the industry and pushed people out of recreational fishing, the group said.

One of the first issues RFA said it would like to see addressed is a reversal of a 2014 repeal of a prohibition on the designation on new marine sanctuaries by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. RFA said environmental groups are having too large an influence in the creation and management of these sanctuaries.

The RFA said it is "extremely concerned about the recent barrage of sanctuary nominations put forward by these same environmental groups."

RFA cited the offshore canyons and surrounding waters off the Mid-Atlantic coast that have been nominated for sanctuary designation. RFA raised concerns that recreational fishing could be found harmful to the sanctuary and then therefore be blocked from those areas.

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"We're very optimistic that with Secretary Ross's guidance we can again start managing our marine resources through a responsible, science-based process that takes all stakeholders into consideration," continued Donofrio. "The RFA is looking forward to partnering with the administration in this endeavor, and we're confident we're going to see some significant improvements as we move forward."

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