IGFA Joins the Coalition
The International Game Fish Association has joined a coalition of marine recreational fishing, boating, and conservation organizations calling on the Obama administration to take immediate action to address a crisis within the federal fisheries management system. In a letter to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), The Billfish Foundation (TBF), the Center for Coastal Conservation (CCC), the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) laid out an initial framework to immediately address serious and escalating problems resulting from inadequate implementation of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the chronic problems that exist within the federal marine fisheries management system.
The coalition emphasizes that there are available administrative actions that can be taken right away to address the concerns of the sportfishing and boating industries and the nation's 13 million saltwater anglers who depend on well-managed, healthy marine fisheries.
NOAA's recent ban on recreational fishing for red snapper from North Carolina through Florida and the potential for additional bans on key recreational saltwater fisheries has fueled overwhelming concern in the recreational fishing community.
IGFA Conservation Director, Jason Schratwieser said, "Current language in Magnuson-Stevens demands that overfishing end immediately and specifies strict rebuilding timelines. These provisions are necessary to hold fisheries managers accountable for keeping our recreational fisheries healthy. In cases like southeast red snapper, the problem lies in that NOAA has not been conducting quality stock assessments in a timely enough fashion to prevent gross overfishing and eliminate the need for draconian management measures such as extensive closures. This is further exacerbated by the poor quality of recreational fisheries dependent catch data."
With today's letter, the coalition called upon the administration to:
- Take decisive, immediate action to improve recreational fisheries data by redirecting existing funds and personnel to focus on real-time management data.
- Collect socio-economic data on recreational fishing in the communities most likely to be impacted by near-term or expected fisheries closures.
- Provide federal level direction to the fishery management councils to use common-sense in their management approaches while the administration collects the requisite data to make sound management decisions.
- Develop a recreational fishing program and staff within NMFS commensurate with the national economic contribution of recreational saltwater fishing.
IGFA President, Rob Kramer added, "We do not believe that removing key conservation provisions within Magnuson-Stevens will solve the problem. We need to work with NOAA, the administration and the regional fishery management councils to address the lack of quality data and the inadequate funding being committed to the US recreational fisheries." The coalition's groups look forward to working closely with the Obama administration and NOAA to implement solutions to effectively deal with our nation's marine fisheries resources.