Last week’s bi-partisan introduction of the “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017” (Modern Fish Act) marked the best opportunity in years for Congress to address serious challenges that have faced the nation’s saltwater recreational fishing community for far too long. If passed, the Modern Fish Act will reform key aspects of current federal fisheries management policy, allowing for greater public access to America’s waters, enhanced science and a much-needed boost for thousands of businesses.
Despite these many benefits, a few defenders of the status quo have voiced over-the-top and misinformed interpretations of the bill. While disappointing, this should come as no surprise, as these same groups seem more interested in demeaning and grandstanding than working with anglers on real solutions to the numerous challenges with federal fisheries management. This is unfortunate, because as federal fisheries managers are being forced to do a lot of guessing in the regulation of recreational fishing, it is not only the American angler who is hurt by the status quo, but our natural resources as well.
America’s 11 million saltwater recreational anglers—and the businesses they support—have experienced systematic reduction of opportunities to enjoy America’s marine resources. Our elected leaders should not be fooled by scare tactics, as any objective observer would find that current federal policies are failing millions of Americans.
Our nation’s sportsmen are the original conservationists, and the recreational fishing community is eager to work with Congress to pass reforms that enhance conservation of our marine resources and get Americans back on the water. These are goals that every American can support, and the nation’s recreational anglers urge members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to support recreational fishing by cosponsoring H.R. 2023, the Modern Fish Act.