Recreational Fishing Alliance
Contact: Jim Hutchinson, Jr. / 888-564-6732
For Immediate Release
February 18, 2010
RFA-FL Sees Magnuson Reform Movement Gaining Momentum
February 19, 2010 - With just five days left before the February 24th rally in Washington DC, Florida Republican Congressmen Adam Putnam and Bill Posey have announced that they have both signed on as cosponsors of H.R .1584, the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act. The bi-partisan legislation would provide fisheries managers with additional limited flexibility when setting annual limits while simultaneously rebuilding healthy coastal fisheries. Rep. Putnam and Rep. Posey join fellow Florida representatives Ander Crenshaw (R), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R), Clifford Stearns (R), Allen Boyd (D), Ginny Brown-Waite (R), and John Mica (R) who have also pledged to support much needed reform to the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Management and Conservation Act (MSA).
Proposed changes included in H.R. 1584 and S. 1255, the companion Senate bill cosponsored by Florida Senator George LeMieux, would allow fishermen to retain reasonable access to healthy fisheries as fish stocks continue to rebuild and meet conservation objectives. It also calls for the assessment of the relationship between predator and prey and other environmental and ecological changes to the marine conditions in the stock assessment.
"Arbitrary provisions in MSA are having a catastrophic impact on fishermen and marine related businesses" explained Dave Huber, chairman of the Recreational Fishing Alliance's Florida state chapter (RFA-FL). "Fishermen all understand that conservation is needed and it is in their best interest. However, what fishermen cannot accept are draconian regulations based on flawed science using insufficient data with very large margins of error. Making matters worse, these devastating measures are occurring during times when stocks are at all time high levels of abundance. We appreciate Representaives Putnam and Posey for understanding this issue and cosponsoring H.R. 1584."
Both representatives are also cosponsors of H.R. 3307 that would require the Secretary of Commerce to gather additional information on the health of the red snapper stock before enacting complete closures in this fishery. Their support of both bills illustrates strong commitment to the fishing communities of Florida and the need for sound science in management of our nation's marine resources. Rep. Putnam and Rep. Posey are both slated to join commercial and recreational fishermen from across the country on February 24, 2010 as they demonstrate in DC demanding immediate MSA reform. Black sea bass, red snapper, amberjack are just a few important fisheries where recreational anglers have been denied access based on flawed science and arbitrary provisions contained within the federal fisheries law.
The rally is set for 2/24/10 at noon at the Capitol. For details on the DC demonstration, sign up for the RFA's email newsletter at www.joinrfa.org
SC LEGISLATORS SAYS "NO" TO FISHING CLOSURES
RFA-SC Members Lobby For Resolution
February 3, 2010 - In a concurrent resolution, the South Carolina legislature is working to oppose any fishing area closures off the coast of South Carolina associated with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's (SAFMC) proposed amendments to the fishery management plan for the grouper/snapper fishery. Two bills currently in play are H 4497 and S 1095 and call upon the SAFMC to not adopt any version of Amendment 17A that includes the closure of areas off the coast of South Carolina to fishing activities.
South Carolina members of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) lobbied extensively to garner support of this important issue, and the response from the legislators is being applauded by RFA and its South Carolina Members. "We need these passed immediately," said RFA-SC member Cantey Smith of Charleston. "These bills advocate protection of our economy, jobs, our ability to do what we love and the state of our offshore fishery. Smith stressed that fellow South Carolina anglers should pick up the phone or send a letter to their local legislator asking for support of the resolutions, adding "South Carolina values are at stake here."
In the resolution sponsored by Rep. Thad Viers of Myrtle Beach, Sen. Ray Cleary of Georgetown, Horry and Charleston Counties and Sen. Ronnie Cromer of Lexington, Newberry and Saluda Counties, South Carolina House and Senate members made it very clear that any proposals under consideration for closures by the SAFMC were "unjustifiable and would create severe economic hardship to the state and its coastal counties, including significant job loss at a time when job creation is badly needed and is a priority."
"Between NOAA restrictions on snapper and grouper, and the proposal to shut down the entire coast to bottomfishing, I'm not sure how much our coastal sector can bend," said Charleston charter captain, Mark Brown. "Our local fishing industry is close to broke as it is now."
The concurrent resolution reads that "any closed area to fishing off the coast of South Carolina will result in excessive fishing pressure on the remaining open areas, causing localized depletion of fish species, further, seriously impacting fishermen, employment, and the local economy." Furthermore, the Assembly "strongly urged representatives of South Carolina on the SAMFC to cast votes in opposition to any amendment that will result in any area of the state's coast being closed to fishing of any kind."
Ideally, RFA would like to see other coastal states within the SAFMC domain follow suit before the council reconvenes in March to vote on the area closures. "RFA is thankful to Congressman Henry Brown for contacting members of the House in South Carolina to get this done," said Jim Donofrio, Executive Director of the RFA. "Mr. Brown is primary co-sponsor of HR 1584, the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act, and a champion for science-based and sustainable fisheries management. We would like to see more of our coastal legislators step up on behalf of their constituents the way these South Carolina representatives have," Donofrio said.
About Recreational Fishing Alliance
The Recreational Fishing Alliance is a national, grassroots political action organization representing recreational fishermen and the recreational fishing industry on marine fisheries issues. The RFA Mission is to safeguard the rights of saltwater anglers, protect marine, boat and tackle industry jobs, and ensure the long-term sustainability of our Nation's saltwater fisheries. For more information, call 888-JOIN-RFA or visit www.joinrfa.org