May 2017 Newsletter





csp hillCenter Focus on Washington Brings Anglers and Boaters to the Hill

The Center for Sportfishing Policy hosted its annual fly-in "Center Focus on Washington," where recreational anglers and boaters participated in critical discussions with key policymakers over the two-day meeting held May 15-16. As in years past, the Center co-located its fly-in with the American Boating Congress (ABC) hosted by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).

Key issues for ABC and Center Focus participants: Passing the Modern Fish Act to fix the Magnuson-Stevens Act; Ensuring robust public access to federally managed waters; Reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard; Solving the Gulf red snapper catastrophe; and many others. These matters were discussed during the course of the fly-in with top administration and Capitol Hill officials, including representatives from the Department of Commerce and the House Natural Resources Committee, among others. .

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CCA Testifies Before Congress on Red Snapper Fiasco | Three-day season in 2017 marks new low in federal management of popular fishery

aftco gearOn the same day that NOAA Fisheries announced the shortest recreational red snapper season in history, Mark Ray, chairman of CCA Texas, was testifying before a Congressional hearing on dismal federal management of the fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. Ray told the House Subcommittee on Interior, Energy and the Environment, chaired by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), that red snapper is a man-made fishery management disaster.

"By any measure, the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico should be held up as a shining example of proper management and good conservation. But as this hearing demonstrates, that is not the case. We aren't here today to highlight a conservation success story. Unfortunately, we are here because red snapper is known throughout the nation as a man-made fishery management disaster," Ray said. "After decades under intense federal management, this is the best that anglers can hope for - a three-day season in federal waters in 2017. I don’t think anyone would declare the current situation a success. All we ask is for is a system that allows all stakeholders the best opportunity to enjoy and use those resources. I am here today to ask this you to give us that chance."

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Anglers Applaud Decision for Striped Bass Conservation | Proposed harvest increase for iconic sportfish shelved by Atlantic States Commission

oyster_planting A controversial proposal to relax regulations on striped bass and allow a 10-percent increase in harvest was voted down at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) meeting this week. Anglers and conservationists all along the East Coast had voiced concerns over the proposal amid signs that the striped bass population may actually be in trouble and expressed relief that managers had rejected the proposal.

"Our members remain concerned over the status of striped bass and we believe the Commission certainly did the right thing in rejecting any proposal to increase harvest at this time," said Frank Bonanno, chairman of CCA Maryland. "There is a very good chance that when harvest data from 2016 is fully analyzed they will show that Commissioners need to take a much more conservative approach in the future to ensure that the population of striped bass remains healthy and doesn't slide into decline."

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Hearing Reviews Progress on Rigs-to-Reef Program | Increased reefing of offshore energy platforms critical to Gulf habitat

The House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing on May 17 entitled "Reviewing Recent State Successes with the Rigs to Reefs Program" that examined how well such programs are working to allow energy companies to transform outdated structures into valuable marine habitat. Among those invited to present on various aspects of the program was Dr. Greg Stunz, Endowed Chair, Fisheries and Ocean Health, Director, Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation, and Professor of Marine Biology Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies.

"Rigs-to-Reefs work and are an effective management tool," Dr. Stunz told Committee members. "In my opinion, from a practical standpoint and particularly at the federal level, Rigs-to-Reefs is an under-utilized option in the fisheries manager's toolbox. They produce fish, reduce pressure on natural systems and are a wonderful example of the partnership between the oil and gas industry and resource managers, where both the Gulf environment and economy benefit. However, time is not on our side with Rigs-to Reefs. The decommissioning and removal of what is widely regarded as the largest man-made reef complex in the world is happening at an accelerated pace, and the opportunity to access this habitat resource will not long be available."

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Fisheries Economic Picture Comes into Focus | Recreational fisheries generate far more economic activity with less impact on marine resources. So why are we still treated as an after-thought by NOAA Fisheries?

REPORT A NMFS released Fisheries Economics of the United States (FEUS) this week with much fanfare. (CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE REPORT.) Thanks to CCA's and the rest of the industry's dogged attention to the optics of these types of press releases, NMFS did not try once again to paint the commercial industry as larger than the recreational industry in its announcement. That only makes sense because the commercial industry has a smaller economic footprint no matter how you slice it.

According to FEUS, in 2015, the fisheries economy in the US generated $200 billion in total economic activity. Of that number, $13.9 billion was created by the commercial sector; $38.0 billion from the supply chain all the way to the consumer for those fish caught by US commercial harvesters; $92.3 billion in seafood imports and $63.4 billion from recreational fishing. That's $63.4 billion recreational vs. $13.9 billion for the commercial harvesting sector, or if you want to be generous, $51.9 billion including the activity all the way through to the restaurants and big box stores like Wal-Mart.

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Habitat Headlines



There are few angling experiences that hold the mystery and magical pull of fishing under lights. A well-placed light has the ability to concentrate baitfish and provide an unnaturally alluring ambush spot for predator fish and anglers alike. Although there are no guarantees in any type of fishing, the draw of a well-lit coastal channel or flat just feels fishy, and by employing a few time-tested techniques, you might find that sleep is very overrated.

Fish it Like a Pond
One of the best parts of fishing a small stock pond is that you can concentrate on limited angling space and fully explore the little water you have. Night fishing has some of the same elements. Depending on the number of lights you have access to, you need to fully understand the structure, depth and distinguishing features of the water you are fishing. If possible, spend a moment in the daylight to scope the area. Probe for depth and if you can, try to get a feel for the bay bottom contour and any structure that may be within the reach of the lights. Use this insight to target key ambush areas for predators and try to pattern your retrieves to mirror those of surprised prey. Also, remember to fish the edges of the light. That is the natural ambush area and is generally going to draw the most action.

Go Small
The bite under lights can be maddeningly finicky based on water clarity and often the size of the bait species that the lights aggregate. Make sure you pack an assortment of small baits that simulate a newly hatched shad, glass minnow or shrimp. Spend some time in your local tackle store or online looking at small, light-tackle baits, and don’t be afraid to stroll down the freshwater panfish aisle. Baits intended for use in pursuing bluegill and small bass can be deadly effective on serious saltwater gamefish in the right conditions.

Stick It Out
Due to the limitations of lighting, night fishing can seem somewhat monotonous if the bite if off. With all of the natural sights of the bay stripped away, it is amazing how quickly standing on the bay in the dark can become as appealing as standing in a closet, but don't give up too quickly. The bite under lights is notorious for testing the night owl in you, and the action can turn on inexplicably. Although a lot of the normal rules of tide and moon apply, remember that the lights often take quite a bit of time to aggregate nearby bait species and the bite regularly tracks that sleepless pattern.


















Featured Video

Port O'Connor "Keeping it Wild" Nearshore Reef Deployment

How do you create an artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico? One 2,500 lb. concrete pyramid at a time! 700 of the behemoth structures have been placed six miles offshore from Port O'Connor, TX creating the 2 new "Keeping It Wild" reefs. These reefs are a partnership project of Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation, CCA's National Habitat Program - Building Conservation Trust and CCA Texas.

In this video, Texas Parks and Wildlife's Dale Shively explains how it's done>>

reef video




Featured Recipe:
Simple Stuffed Flounder

TIDE Recipe

- 1/2 stick butter
- 1 c yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 c celery, finely diced
- 1 lb lump crab meat
- 1 c Italian blend grated cheese
- 1/4 c panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
- 2 small-medium flounder or 1 large flounder *Scaled, gutted and butterflied olive oil for drizzling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

SIMPLE STUFFING: Melt butter over medium heat in a nonstick saute pan. Add onion, celery and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Remove from heat. Add crab meat, cheese, bread crumbs and seasoning. Stir to combine completely. Let cool slightly.

FLOUNDER: Stuff crab mixture into flounder filet cavities. Drizzle entire stuffed fish with olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until fish is cooked through.

TO SERVE: Place on a platter for family-style serving, garnish with chopped parsley and lemon wedges.






Newsletter Editor and Designer: Heather Peterek
Newsletter Consulting Editors: Pat Murray and Ted Venker


The objective of CCA is to conserve, promote, and enhance the present and future availability of coastal resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public.


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