Posted by seldom seen slim on August 09, 2001 at 23:50:13:
If recreational angles represent 2% of the take, how much of that do you think spearos take?
Public access to the nationís ocean and coastal resources is being seriously threatened by the increased use of marine protected areas. Angered by this proposition, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) worked closely with Congressional leaders on legislation to protect Americaís 12 million saltwater anglers. Yesterday, Senators John Breaux (LA) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) reintroduced this legislation as the Freedom to Fish Act (S. 1314).
From California to Florida, no fishing zones are increasingly becoming the marine resource management tool of choice. While recreational anglers account for just 2% of all the fish landed in U.S. ocean waters, some environmental groups are calling for sport fishing to be eliminated in anywhere from 5% to 20% of U.S. coastal waters. These arbitrary figures have nothing to do with good science contend the supporters of the Freedom to Fish Act
"The proponents of arbitrarily closing off these areas should be ashamed of themselves for short changing Americaís conservation-minded anglers," says Mike Nussman, ASA vice president "Many no-fishing zones ban recreational fishing even when the science clearly shows that anglers are not causing a problem to the resource. Thatís just not smart management."
Nussman goes on to point out that recreational anglers already are managed by a strict set of regulations ranging from closed seasons to catch limits to size limits and that when enforced correctly, these regulations have proven to be effective at ensuring healthy fish stocks.
"Time and area closures can be effective management tools when based on good scientific data," said David Cummins, President of CCA, "but arbitrary restriction of recreational anglers merely displaces fishing effort, increases regulatory confusion, increases user group conflicts and casts doubt on the entire fishery management process."
Blanket marine closures take away the single most important element to sport fishing ó the publicís access to the water. The Freedom to Fish Act would establish common sense guidelines and safeguards to preserve the publicís freedom to use and enjoy these resources.
According to the legislation, only in those cases where recreational fishing has demonstrable adverse effects could a specific, well-defined area be closed. Further, once established targets were achieved, that area would reopen immediately to recreational anglers.
"Restricting public admission to our coastal waters should not be our first course of action, but rather our last," concluded Senator Breaux.
Take action! Support the Freedom to Fish Act! Visit http://www.asafishing.org/programs/govtaffairs/ and write your member of Congress urging them to sign on to the Freedom to Fish Act (S.1314). Your five minutes will make an enormous difference.
For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (703) 519-9691
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