TBF Approves Of Gulf Restoration Plan

#The reaction by one of recreational fishing's leading conservation associations to the recently released 130-page Gulf Restoration Plan -- a long term recovery strategy needed following the April 20, 2010 oil disaster -- is mostly positive.

In a mass e-mail alert to its members, The Billfish Foundation's (TBF) President Ellen Peel shared comments with Gulf of Mexico's big game fishing and business community letting them know the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus had heard their collective voices on the importance of the recreational fishing and boating industries in the Gulf.

Mabus was charged by President Obama to draft the plan convening a series of town meetings throughout the Gulf States in early August to receive input from the local communities on what they thought should be included in the Plan. Despite a very short notice from the Secretary's office Peel and TBF members attended the meetings. Many anglers then sent messages of concern to Mabus and other decision makers following TBF's suggested lead.

TBF Board Chairman John Brownlee, who is also the editor of Salt Water Sportsman Magazine, noted, "The Recovery Plan includes many complex and long range issues requiring the establishment of panels, councils and input and analysis to get it implemented which may become a bit frustrating, but hopefully recovery and restoration of communities, businesses and natural resources can begin in earnest."

On a strong positive note, Peel said three points in particular in the Plan are reassuring and make the point that sportfishing's and TBF's messages were heard and included:

  1. First, as TBF's communications made clear, many Gulf fish species were already overfished, suffering impacts from a multitude of pressures. But with the oil disaster adding to those pressures there's no way of yet determining the impacts.
  2. Secondly, the importance of Gulf habitat, including sargassum that is important during early life stages of at least 139 species including marlin, was spelled out in the Plan.
  3. And third, human and economic impacts to our industry that resulted when 36 percent or 88,522 square miles of federal waters were closed due to the spill, took a tremendous economic and emotional toll on individuals, businesses and whole communities.

Peel added, "The boating and the sportfishing industries employ some 300,000 individuals in the region generating an economic stimulus of $41 billion dollars annually including a wide array of marine related manufacturing, sales, service, support and enhancement businesses. The coastal towns, individuals and the recreational fishing and boating businesses, tournaments and events suffered significant economic losses resulting from the oil disaster."

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