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December 21, 2018

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December 20, 2018

Congress Fails to Reauthorize LWCF, Advance Lands Package

Critical measures for public lands and sportsmen’s access had broad support but didn’t make it across the finish line

Last night, the 115th Congress moved closer to adjourning after failing to advance a wide-ranging and noncontroversial public lands package that had been under careful development by lawmakers for years. Part of the proposed legislation was a permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, key provisions from the Sportsmen’s Act, Pittman-Robertson Modernization, and numerous regionally specific bills.

“These critical measures for our public lands and sportsmen’s access were teed-up and ready to go with broad support, yet Congress still failed to get them across the finish line,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “While we truly appreciate the best efforts of some lawmakers who went to bat for this, we are disappointed to see common-sense solutions kicked down the road yet again.”

Chief among the opportunities missed was a reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which expired on September 30 despite the efforts of an outspoken, diverse coalition of advocates. For more than 50 years, the LWCF has helped conserve habitat and create public access for hunting and fishing all across the nation.

“Permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund should have been an easy win for lawmakers of both parties,” says Fosburgh. “We still have 9.5 million acres of landlocked public lands in the West, and the task of conserving important fish and wildlife habitats is no less critical, but we no longer have at our disposal the best tool to address these issues.”

With the 115th Congress now at a close, sportsmen and women are turning their attention to the prospects of advancing the lands package in the next two years. When a new Congress convenes in January, much could be accomplished by making good on the unfinished business of the last session, with a simple reintroduction of these bills and expeditious votes.

Congressional champions of the public lands package include Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), and House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah, 1st) and Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz., 3rd). These decision-makers fought hard for consideration of the package this year and are now working to secure a commitment from House and Senate leadership to move to consider the package in early 2019.

There have been few chances in recent memory to achieve so much for fish, wildlife, and the future of hunting and fishing, and certainly none as ready-made as this. “If our Congressional leaders take seriously the priorities of sportsmen and women, this lands package should be high on their agenda when they begin work in 2019,” says Fosburgh. “Common-sense, noncontroversial solutions to some of the most pressing conservation challenges are simply waiting for our elected officials to act. We hope that the next Congress will honor the collaboration and effort that went into this deal by considering and voting on these bills when they convene in early January.”

 

Photo Credit: Wyatt Bensken

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December 19, 2018

U.S. House Passes Modern Fish Act

First-ever sportfishing-focused legislation to pass Congress heads to President’s desk

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed S.1520, the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 (Modern Fish Act). Today’s vote was the final step toward sending the landmark legislation to the President’s desk after it passed the Senate on December 17.

“The Modern Fish Act is the most significant update to America’s saltwater fishing regulations in more than 40 years and the recreational fishing community couldn’t be more excited,” said Johnny Morris, noted conservationist and founder of Bass Pro Shops. “On behalf of America’s 11 million saltwater anglers, we’re grateful to Speaker Ryan, the 115th Congress and all the elected leaders who came together to support and enhance recreational fishing across America.”

The priorities of the recreational fishing and boating community were identified and presented to federal policy makers in 2014 by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management in a report “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries.” The Commission was known as the Morris-Deal Commission, named for co-chairs Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boat Group. Four years later, many of the recommendations of the Morris-Deal Commission are found in the Modern Fish Act.

“America’s anglers and members of the recreational fishing and boating industry are among the most responsible stewards of our marine resources because healthy fisheries and the future of recreational fishing go hand-in-hand,” said Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boat Group. “A huge thank you to our congressional leaders who answered the call of the recreational fishing community to improve the way our fisheries are managed.”

America’s 11 million saltwater anglers have a $63 billion economic impact annually and generate 440,000 jobs, including thousands of manufacturing and supply jobs in non-coastal states. Furthermore, $1.3 billion is contributed annually by anglers and boaters through excise taxes and licensing fees, most of which goes toward conservation, boating safety and infrastructure, and habitat restoration.

“It is a historic day for America’s 11 million saltwater anglers thanks Senator Roger Wicker, Congressman Garret Graves and our many champions in Congress who fought until the very end for recreational fishing to be properly recognized in federal law,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “For the first time ever, Congress is sending a sportfishing-focused bill to the President’s desk.”

The Modern Fish Act will provide more stability and better access for anglers by:

  • Providing authority and direction to NOAA Fisheries to apply additional management tools more appropriate for recreational fishing, many of which are successfully implemented by state fisheries agencies (e.g., extraction rates, fishing mortality targets, harvest control rules, or traditional or cultural practices of native communities);
  • Improving recreational harvest data collection by requiring federal managers to explore other data sources that have tremendous potential to improve the accuracy and timeliness of harvest estimates, such as state-driven programs and electronic reporting (e.g., through smartphone apps);
  • Requiring the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study on the process of mixed-use fishery allocation review by the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Regional Fishery Management Councils and report findings to Congress within one year of enactment of the Modern Fish Act, and
  • Requiring the National Academies of Sciences to complete a study and provide recommendations within two years of the enactment of the Modern Fish Act on limited access privilege programs (catch shares) including an assessment of the social, economic, and ecological effects of the program, considering each sector of a mixed-use fishery and related businesses, coastal communities, and the environment and an assessment of any impacts to stakeholders in a mixed-use fishery caused by a limited access privilege program. This study excludes the Pacific and North Pacific Regional Fishery Management Councils.

The coalition of groups supporting the Modern Fish Act includes American Sportfishing Association, Center for Sportfishing Policy, Coastal Conservation Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, International Game Fish Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Recreational Fishing Alliance, The Billfish Foundation and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

America’s recreational fishing and boating community applauds Congress for this historic vote and looks forward to final enactment of the Modern Fish Act following the President’s signature.

Photo Credit: Kiran Koduru on Flickr

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December 17, 2018

Senate Passes Modern Fish Act

Sportfishing-focused legislation heads to House for final passage

Today, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 (S.1520), otherwise known as the Modern Fish Act. The legislation, which would make critical updates to the oversight of federal fisheries, marks a big step forward for America’s angling community and now moves to the U.S. House for final passage.

“Today is an important day for America’s 11 million saltwater anglers thanks to the leadership of Senator Roger Wicker and a broad, bipartisan coalition of senators,” says Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “Senate passage of the Modern Fish Act proved today that marine recreational fishing is a nonpartisan issue, and anglers are closer than ever to being properly recognized in federal law.”

The Modern Fish Act, introduced by Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) in July 2017, enjoyed strong support across the aisle from more than a dozen Senate cosponsors representing coastal and non-coastal states alike. In addition, a coalition of organizations representing the saltwater recreational fishing and boating community endorsed the Modern Fish Act and highlighted the importance of updating the nation’s fisheries management system to more accurately distinguish between recreational and commercial fishing.

“We applaud the U.S. Senate for approving this commonsense legislation, which will modernize our federal fisheries management system and protect recreational angling for generations to come,” says Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “The recreational boating industry – a uniquely American-made industry that contributes $39 billion in annual sales and supports 35,000 businesses – now calls on the U.S. House of Representatives to immediately take up, pass, and send the Modern Fish Act to President Trump’s desk.”

On July 11, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Modern Fish Act (H.R. 2023) as part of H.R. 200. However, differences between H.R. 200 and S.1520 require that the full House take a vote on S.1520 before it is sent to the President’s desk. America’s recreational fishing and boating community is urging the House to quickly advance the Modern Fish Act to the President’s desk before the conclusion of this Congress.

“The Senate’s passage of the Modern Fish Act demonstrates a clear recognition of the importance of saltwater recreational fishing to the nation,” says Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “This version of the Modern Fish Act helps to advance many of the collective priorities of the recreational fishing community for improving federal marine fisheries management. There are 11 million saltwater anglers in the U.S. who have a $63 billion economic impact annually and generate 440,000 jobs.”

If passed, the Modern Fish Act will provide more stability and better access for anglers by:

  • Providing authority and direction to NOAA Fisheries to apply additional management tools more appropriate for recreational fishing, many of which are successfully implemented by state fisheries agencies (e.g., extraction rates, fishing mortality targets, harvest control rules, or traditional or cultural practices of native communities);
  • Improving recreational harvest data collection by requiring federal managers to explore other data sources that have tremendous potential to improve the accuracy and timeliness of harvest estimates, such as state-driven programs and electronic reporting (e.g., through smartphone apps);
  • Requiring the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study on the process of mixed-use fishery allocation review by the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Regional Fishery Management Councils and report findings to Congress within one year of enactment of the Modern Fish Act, and
  • Requiring the National Academies of Sciences to complete a study and provide recommendations within two years of the enactment of the Modern Fish Act on limited access privilege programs (catch shares) including an assessment of the social, economic, and ecological effects of the program, considering each sector of a mixed-use fishery and related businesses, coastal communities, and the environment and an assessment of any impacts to stakeholders in a mixed-use fishery caused by a limited access privilege program. This study excludes the Pacific and North Pacific Regional Fishery Management Councils.

“We are proud of the extensive work that went into producing this bill and are grateful to our champions in Congress who worked to establish recreational angling as an important component in the management of our nation’s fisheries, at long last,” says Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “Thanks to this effort, the recreational angling community is better positioned than ever to address ongoing shortcomings in our nation’s fisheries laws and we look forward to continuing this work with our elected officials to ensure the proper conservation of our country’s marine resources and anglers’ access to them.”

“The Modern Fish Act is a very positive step forward for anglers and conservation,” says Whit Fosburgh, president of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “It will improve fisheries data and encourage managers to think about new ways of managing fisheries to benefit both conservation and access.”

In 2014, the priorities of the recreational fishing and boating community were identified and presented to federal policy makers by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management in a report “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries.” This diverse group made up of a variety of fisheries stakeholders is also referred to as the Morris-Deal Commission, named for co-chairs Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boat Group. Four years later, many of the recommendations of the Morris-Deal Commission are found in the Modern Fish Act.

“Through the legislative process, the Modern Fish Act has proven to many on Capitol Hill that recreational fishing is worthy of recognition as a driving force for American jobs and the national economy — not just a sport,” says Jim Donofrio, president of the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

The recreational fishing and boating community thanks Senator Wicker for leading the Modern Fish Act through the Senate. While certain provisions of the original legislation proved too difficult to enact now, many core provisions of the Modern Fish Act are found in the final bill. We urge the incoming Congress to continue working to improve the way recreational fisheries are managed at the federal level.

 

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.

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December 15, 2018

President Will Soon Choose a New Interior Secretary

TRCP outlines qualifications necessary for this key leadership role

Recent reports have confirmed that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke plans to resign from his post at the end of 2018, creating a vacancy in one of the most important policymaking roles for hunting, fishing, and wildlife conservation issues in this nation.
In response to this news, TRCP President and CEO, Whit Fosburgh, issued the following statement for President Trump to consider as he chooses the next Secretary of the Interior:

The Secretary of the Interior serves as the chief steward of America’s outdoor legacy. Whoever holds this office oversees the management of nearly 440 million acres of public land, which provide some of the best hunting and fishing in the world. The secretary also plays a central role in the management of migratory birds, including ducks and geese, and safeguards all species from extinction through the powers of the Endangered Species Act. The secretary controls the flows of rivers across the West through the Bureau of Reclamation, which also provides extensive hunting, fishing and boating opportunities on its reservoirs. And the secretary supervises energy development on and off Interior lands, including leasing and development on the outer continental shelf.

In order to fulfill these significant and wide-ranging duties, the next secretary must possess several attributes:

  • A dedication to keeping public lands in public hands
  • A commitment to ensuring that public lands are well-managed and accessible, including hunters and anglers
  • An unwavering fidelity to science-based management
  • An appreciation of public input in the policymaking process
  • An understanding of the importance of outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing, to local economies and the national economy
  • A willingness to fight for strong budgets for the department and a respect for its employees, who have dedicated themselves to upholding and advancing America’s conservation legacy
  • An eagerness to collaborate with the states, which hold primary management authority for managing fish and wildlife
  • The foresight to promote long-term stewardship over short-term economic gains

Join TRCP and hunters and anglers across the nation to make a difference on this and other issues, and to make your voice heard.

Photo: Jeffrey Sullivan

HOW YOU CAN HELP

CHEERS TO CONSERVATION

Theodore Roosevelt’s experiences hunting and fishing certainly fueled his passion for conservation, but it seems that a passion for coffee may have powered his mornings. In fact, Roosevelt’s son once said that his father’s coffee cup was “more in the nature of a bathtub.” TRCP has partnered with Afuera Coffee Co. to bring together his two loves: a strong morning brew and a dedication to conservation. With your purchase, you’ll not only enjoy waking up to the rich aroma of this bolder roast—you’ll be supporting the important work of preserving hunting and fishing opportunities for all.

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