The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation convened a hearing on “Our Blue Economy: Successes and Opportunities.” Witnesses providing testimony on marine economic development and the need for federal investments in ocean technologies and fisheries included Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and Maverick Boat Group President Scott Deal.
“We thank Chairman Roger Wicker for his continued leadership and for convening this important hearing today,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “The saltwater recreational fishing industry is a major driver of America’s Blue Economy, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs across the nation and generating $68 billion in annual sales. We urge the Congress to support this economic engine by making healthy fisheries and public access to federal waters a priority.”
Recreational boating and fishing mean big business in the U.S. economy. According to NOAA Fisheries’ report Fisheries Economics of the United States 2016, America’s 11 million saltwater anglers support 472,000 U.S. jobs throughout the country and generate $68 billion in sales annually. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, 141 million American boaters contribute $170 billion in economic impact and support 690,000 jobs.
“In the last Congress, my colleagues and I worked to grow the Blue Economy by leading the Modern Fish Act,” said Chairman Roger Wicker in his opening statement. “Our nation’s fisheries law, the Magnuson Stevens Act, was established to manage commercial fisheries. It’s no surprise then that a management system designed for commercial activity did not work for recreational fishermen, who want to spend more time on the water, not catch their quota as quickly as possible. The Modern Fish Act requires the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to be more responsive to the needs of our recreational fisheries and allows for the use of additional management tools like extraction rates, fishing mortality rates and harvest control rules. We’ll certainly be providing oversight to the administration as they develop the ways to implement the Modern Fish Act.”
“Recreational fishing is more than a family enjoying the water on a Saturday afternoon,” said Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boat Group and a CSP partner. “It provides for hundreds of thousands of American jobs; anglers and boaters are good stewards of the environment, and we directly contribute to infrastructure and conservation efforts, totaling $600 million annually through the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund.”
A video of the hearing and witness testimony can be found here.