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Nation’s Fishery Act Passes House

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here’s good news and not-so-good news concerning the main federal law governing the nation’s marine fisheries. Last month, the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) reauthorization was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, an action applauded by the broad coalition of organizations representing the saltwater recreational fishing and boating community. “The House action (H.R. 1335) recognizes the increasing popularity of saltwater recreational fishing, which contributes $70 billion annually to the nation’s economy and supports 454,000 jobs in every type of business from marinas, tackle shops and boat dealerships to restaurants, motels and clothing stores,” says Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “While H.R. 1335 isn’t perfect, it goes a long way toward addressing the priorities of the recreational fishing community.” According to Angers, H.R 1335 contains many recommendations suggested by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, also called the Morris-Deal Commission because of its co-chairs Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boats. Whit Fosburgh, president of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, comments, “The House action advances many of these priorities, and we look forward to continuing to advance the interests

of the nation’s 11 million saltwater anglers as the Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization process continues moving forward in this Congress.” Key Provisions include: promoting a more transparent and science-based review of fishery allocations; helping ensure that important fisheries aren’t closed unnecessarily by providing limited exceptions for annual catch limits; improving the accuracy of fish stock information through greater involvement by the states; and incorporating data collected by anglers themselves. During discussion on the House floor, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Rob Wittman (R-Virginia) successfully got an amendment added that gives NOAA Fisheries the authority to implement management practices better tailored to the nature of recreational fishing. “Rep. Wittman’s amendment addresses one of the key priorities of the Morris-Deal Commission – adopting a revised approach to saltwater recreational fisheries management,” says Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association. “This provision will promote the consideration of management approaches that fit the interests of recreational anglers, as opposed to the current approach of applying a commercial fisheries management model onto the nation’s 11 million anglers.” “The chief fisheries management officials in all five Gulf states have recognized what

every red snapper angler in the Gulf already knows—that Gulf red snapper management is badly in need of an overhaul,” says Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “We deeply appreciate Rep. Graves’ leadership in working to transfer Gulf red snapper management to the states, which are best suited to the job.” “There are numerous positive provisions in H.R. 1335 that will ensure the nation’s anglers have access to healthy and sustainable fisheries,” says Jim D’Onofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance. “Recreational fishing is finally receiving long overdue recognition in the nation’s law governing saltwater fishing.” And now for the not-so-encouraging news. Recall your high school government class and you’ll remember that now the bill, or a version of it, needs to pass the Senate, and eventually be signed by the President. Experts say groups outside of the recreational fishing community aren’t really pushing for significant changes in MSA reauthorization, albeit for different reasons. For example, the commercial fishing industry generally thinks MSA is working so why fix ‘what ain’t broke’? And, say some, the environmental community believes MSA is just fine, and are fearful if tweaked, it may weaken the law. So for now, the sportfishing will take the House win and be ready when the discussion picks back up in the Senate. ##Kayak Kevin recent ly caught the same fish six years later. Photo courtesy of Kayak Kev in.

##Chris Boyce first caught, tagged and released this red drum in 2009 Photo cour tesy of Dr. Ken Neill

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Tag Team

hris Boyce caught this bull red drum in 2009, which was tagged and measured about 46 inches. Six years later almost to the day, and almost in the exact same location, Kayak Kevin recaptured the fish, which is now 52 inches long. Kevin snipped off the tag anchor.

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