Our ocean and coastal resources are threatened by a growing number of proposed activities and pressures ranging from energy development and habitat loss to fishing pressure. Angling access to marine fisheries continues to be limited by decades-old laws and policies that are not reflective of the cultural and economic importance of recreational saltwater fisheries. The TRCP strives to balance the multiple and competing uses for America’s marine resources while working with the recreational fishing community, conservation organizations and federal and state law and policy makers to improve management of marine recreational fishing.
The TRCP works with a host of recreational-fisheries and fisheries habitat organizations on projects and initiatives that address key management and habitat issues and ensures the voice of the recreational angling community is incorporated into the federal policy process. We recognize the importance of thoughtful discussion of the policy issues affecting saltwater sportsmen and educating others about the great recreational and economic benefits provided by our marine resources. In this light, we have been successful in bringing our partners together to provide the sportsman’s perspective on marine fisheries issues.
In 2014, TRCP and its sportfishing partners released the landmark report “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries.” The report marked the first time the recreational fishing community united to present a concise list of recommended changes to federal laws and policies to ensure angling priorities are finally recognized and reflected. Those recommendations focused on six key areas including: establishing a national policy for recreational saltwater fishing, adopting a revised approach to saltwater recreational fisheries management, allocating marine fisheries for the greatest benefit to the nation, creating reasonable latitude in stock rebuilding timelines, codifying a process for cooperative management, managing the forage base. Within two months of the Marine Vision report, The National Marine Fisheries Service announced it would work with anglers throughout 2014 and beyond to develop, release and refine a national policy for saltwater recreational fisheries and credited the Marine Vision report for being the primary driving force behind that effort. The NMFS National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy was released in February 2015.
The Marine Vision report was the culmination of more than a year of work by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, an unprecedented collaboration among the leaders in recreational fisheries conservation, policy and management, economics, biology and marine and tackle manufacturing that was chaired by Bass Pro Shops Founder and CEO Johnny Morris and Scott Deal, owner and president of Maverick, Hewes, Cobia and Pathfinfinder Boats. The TRCP continues to work closely with its sportfishing partners and the conservation community to further the work of the Morris-Deal Commission and develop more specific policy recommendations as Congress works toward the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the country’s primary fisheries management law, and other fisheries legislation and policies.
The TRCP continues to play a leading role in the angling community in advancing habitat restoration and improvements in fisheries data collection, management and angler access throughout the Gulf of Mexico region through the use of oil spill fines and penalties. In October 2014, the TRCP released a list of 25 specific projects across the Gulf that would help improve and sustain fisheries and improve the access to high-quality fishing opportunities. The projects include a host of habitat and water quality improvement recommendations like marsh, barrier island and oyster reef restorations as well as expanded fish tagging efforts and improvements to boat launches, piers and other public fishing facilities. The project recommendations were all based on suggestions of the kinds of projects and initiatives anglers want in the Gulf that were outlined in the 2013 report “Gulf of Mexico Recreational Fisheries: Recommendations for Restoration, Recovery and Sustainability.”
That report was the result of the TRCP’s close work with the American Sportfishing Association, Center for Coastal Conservation and Coastal Conservation Association to convene workshops in all five Gulf of Mexico states to discuss priority projects that will improve recreational fishing habitat and access in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The report has been widely acclaimed by conservation organizations and state and federal fisheries and habitat management agencies.
Many of the Gulf angling community’s habitat and access project priorities are included and described on this map of the region.
The TRCP has also carefully evaluated each of the projects and initiatives approved in the Restore Council’s Initial Funded Priorities list to ensure they are meeting the priorities of sportsmen across the Gulf. The scoresheet for the 51 projects and initiatives can be read here.
During the spring of 2011, the TRCP worked with these same partners and other groups and individuals to organize a series of workshops along the Gulf Coast to gather input from recreational fishermen and businesses affected by the spill. That input became the basis for the report: Gulf Spill Recreational Fishing Response Group: Recommendations for Resource Recovery. The recommendations outline the broad consensus priorities that participants believe should be made to restore the quantity and quality of recreational fishing opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico.
The TRCP convened its fourth-annual Saltwater Media Summit in October 2014 in Cape Coral on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The summit welcomed more than 60 outdoor and environmental journalists, conservation leaders, federal and state elected and appointed officials and leaders of the recreational fishing industry. Featured speakers included Senator Bill Nelson, Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg and OCEARCH Founding Chairman Chris Fischer.
The TRCP continues to provide a voice for the saltwater recreational angling community in policy efforts and decision making in Washington, D.C. and beyond. We joined a chorus of those supporting restoration efforts along the Gulf Coast for passage in Congress of the RESTORE Act. Inserted as provision of the federal transportation bill, the RESTORE Act successfully survived both the House and Senate debate thanks to the hard work of many sportsmen and conservation groups’ efforts. The RESTORE Act was signed into law in July 2012, and as a result 80 percent of the Clean Water Act penalties that will be assessed to BP will be directed to where they are needed most: the five Gulf States that were impacted by the spill. That funding, along with additional penalties through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund will potentially ultimately provide more than $20 billion to the Gulf Region for ecosystem and economic restoration efforts. The TRCP and its partners are working closely with state, federal and county/parish level officials to ensure that the projects and initiatives prioritize the long-term sustainability needs of coastal ecosystems and communities that support recreational fisheries.
The TRCP is also strongly committed to working with its partners and with lawmakers to continue to make progress on improving laws and policies that govern recreational fisheries. Recreational saltwater fisheries have historically been underrepresented in federal fisheries management, creating frustration on the part of marine anglers. The TRCP and its partners have worked closely with the National Marine Fisheries Service and state fisheries managers to help ease some of those frustrations and make concise, positive, conservation-based recommendations that will help laws and policies and those who pass and enact those laws and policies become more considerate of the culture and economics of marine recreational fisheries. As congress moves toward the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act in 2015 and 2016, the TRCP’s commitment to ensuring access to quality fisheries opportunities that emphasize resource conservation has never been stronger or more important.
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Working closely with partner organizations the American Sportfishing Association, Center for Coastal Conservation, Coastal Conservation Association and The Nature Conservancy, the TRCP convened workshops in all of the Gulf States during the spring of 2013 to identify overarching restoration priorities for recreational fishermen in the Gulf. The information from those workshops provided the basis for the report released in October 2013, “Gulf of Mexico Recreational Fisheries: Recommendations for Restoration, Recovery and Sustainability.” Download the Report