Interagency Ocean task force receives comments from anglers
The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, along with its partners in the U.S. Recreational Fishing & Boating Coalition, submitted formal comments Friday to the White House Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, voicing the concerns of recreational boating and angling interests.The "Interim Framework for Effective Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning" is the second document released by the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force which was created by President Obama last June to develop a draft national policy and implementation strategy for conserving and managing the oceans, the Great Lakes, and the coasts of the United States.In the first draft policy report, the "Interim Report of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force", released on September 17, the Task Force failed to include specific issues of concern to the recreational fishing and boating communities, in spite of a summer meeting with the Task Force and a written submission from the coalition.The groups' comments, submitted to Ms. Nancy Sutley, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, clearly define the importance of recreational angling and boating to the national economy and our nation's social fabric."Some of the potential policy implications of the this Interim Framework have the potential to be a real threat to recreational anglers who not only contribute billions of dollars to the economy and millions of dollars in tax revenues to support fisheries conservation, but who are also the backbone of the American fish and wildlife conservation ethos," said CSF President Jeff Crane.Among numerous other concerns is the development a top-down federal approach to ocean management that would impact every sector and every ocean activity. This new structure is built on vague or unspecified statutory authority, without input from Congress, and does not appropriately recognize the role of the states, which have the primary jurisdiction for resident fish and wildlife.Given the scope of economic, conservation, and social contributions of recreational fishing and boating, it is imperative that any national ocean policy encourage, promote and celebrate recreational activities in the marine and freshwater environments. This can only be achieved if the policy and the implementation of marine spatial planning provide for access to marine areas for recreation and the opportunities for angling."There are over 1 million jobs in America supported coast to coast by recreational fishing. The Task Force has not included any accountability requirements in their reports for evaluating or mitigating how the new policies they are drafting will impact the fishing industry or related economies," said Phil Morlock, CSF Board Member and Director of Environmental Affairs for Shimano. "Given that the scope of this process appears to include a new set of policies for all the coastal and inland waters of the United States, the omission of economic considerations is inexcusable."Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus (CSC) member Rep. Adam Putnam and CSC House Co-Chair Rep. Dan Boren sent a letter to Ms. Sutley in November, urging inclusion of the recreational fishing community in the formation of a proposed new ocean governance structure."Inclusion of the recreational fishing community in this effort could greatly assist the task force's stated objectives," said Rep. Boren. "They should welcome the participation of recreational anglers and seek their support in ensuring the conservation, maintenance, and restoration of our nation's oceans and lakes."