Fishing & Boating News
(Apr. 20, 2004 - Washington, DC) On April 20th, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, appointed by President Bush in 2001, released its long awaited recommendations for addressing America's ocean policy in the 21st Century. The Commission calls for legislative and regulatory changes to improve marine management and promote long-term sustainable uses of the oceans. The undersigned members of the sportfishing community could not agree more strongly that this is needed.
We agree with the Commission's overall findings that marine resources would benefit from improved management. We must manage our ocean resources for long-term sustainability ensuring future generations of Americans can enjoy the benefits of a healthy ocean ecosystem. Sportfishing relies on healthy fish, clean water and quality habitat. By conserving ocean resources, we safeguard the recreational fishing tradition.
Oceans are a treasured public resource that provides important recreational opportunities to all Americans. We believe ocean management must acknowledge that one of the main reasons we conserve natural resources is to ensure American citizens can continue to enjoy them through outdoor recreation. It is a long-standing policy of the Federal Government to allow public access to public lands and waters for recreational purposes consistent with sound conservation. This policy is reflected in the principles of our great wildlife refuges, national forests, national parks, and wilderness areas.
More than just a hugely popular recreational activity, sportfishing is a powerful economic force, an unparalleled contributor to conservation, and a vital part of the American culture. Each year, more than 17 million Americans fish for recreation along our oceans and coasts. This activity generates more than $31 billion in benefits to our national, state and local economies and supports nearly 300,000 jobs. Further, there are an estimated 46 million American recreational boaters. Over 60 percent of these boaters use their boat to fish. Through the innovative Sport Fish Restoration Act, taxes imposed on fishing tackle and boat fuel, when combined with license revenues, result in a pot of nearly $1 billion being returned to states each year for conservation.
Both in theory and practice, America's anglers and boaters return far more to the resource than they take out. For example, recreational anglers take only 3 percent of all fish landed along our coasts. Commercial operations are responsible for the remaining 97 percent of saltwater landings.
Fishery management has made tremendous progress in the past three decades since the enactment of legislation inspired by the Stratton Commission, but we have largely ignored habitat destruction, among the most critical threats to sustainable fisheries.
The recreational fishing community looks forward to working with Congress and the Administration to ensure the public's recreational interests are well represented in subsequent policy considerations. We would hope to address the Commission's findings by working cooperatively to reauthorize the Sustainable Fisheries Act and push for passage of other key ocean legislation.
American Sportfishing Association
Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatU.S.)
Coastal Conservation Association
International Game Fish Association
Jersey Coast Anglers Association
National Marine Manufacturers Association
Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association
Sportfishing Association of California
United Anglers of California
United Anglers of Southern California
Phone:903-882-8877 or 903-882-8878 — Fax: 972-619-8776