Presidential candidates weigh in on fishing issues

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — On Nov. 6, you have a chance to choose with presidential candidate is right for America, incumbent President Barack Obama or challenger Gov. Mitt Romney.

Voters have multiple platforms on which they base their decision, and anglers have concerns such as access to fishing waters, cleanliness of fish habitat and presence of invasive species.

“You rarely hear the presidential candidates speak to recreational fishing while on the campaign trail,” said Gordon Robertson, vice president of American Sportfishing Association, “so to provide insight into each of the candidate’s views on issues important to you, we asked each candidate eight questions.”

The KeepAmericaFishing interview asked questions specifically important to anglers. Neither candidate professes to be an avid angler, but both boast at least some fishing experience and acknowledge its importance.

“I do … understand the importance of our nation's outdoor heritage and the key role that sportsmen play in the conservation of our natural resources,” said President Obama. Gov. Romney said he sees fishing as “one of America's great opportunities to connect with family, friends and nature.”

Both candidates said they prefer to limit fishing closures to populations that have been identified as threatened based on science, not those that have been requested closed by special interest groups.

“Management based on sound science is the best way to strike a balance between those who rely on our fishery resources today and those who will use them tomorrow,” said President Obama. He defended his National Ocean Policy, which many recreational anglers have felt restricts them as much as commercial anglers, not making a distinction between the two.

“There has been a lot of talk surrounding the National Ocean Policy, so let me set the record straight,” said President Obama. “[T]he new policy in no way restricts any ocean, coastal or Great Lakes activity. By establishing a National Ocean Policy, I made it a priority of the federal government to ensure a proactive approach to improving the conservation of the ocean, our coasts and the Great Lakes.”

Gov. Romney added his own commentary regarding fishing closures: “If there is no strong biological reason to limit fishing for the purpose of protecting fish populations, I will always stand with American anglers who have been the backbone of watershed and fisheries protection.”

“I will not close access to fishing except in a case of last resort to protect the productivity of a fishery, certainly not to appease special interests,” continued Gov. Romney. “This hurts the local economies for no reason.” He also noted that fuel prices were a great concern to boaters.

The interviewer concluded by asking each candidate what are the three most important things they could do as president for recreational fishing in America.

President Obama answered with the following:

  • “Ensuring recreational anglers have a voice …”
  • ”Continuing to pursue strategies that encourage conservation of our national lands and waters …”
  • “Prioritizing wise investments in sciences and management initiatives …”.

Gov. Romney’s three answers were as follows:

  • “… get the economy back on track so that Americans can enjoy the pastimes they love …”
  • “… make government smaller, simpler and smarter …”
  • “…consider individuals for my administration that share my vision for a more prosperous America that protects and understands our national traditions and values.”

“We encourage you to both vote on Nov. 6 and continue to voice your viewpoint to policy makers on recreational fishing issues through KeepAmericaFishing,” concluded Robertson.

You can read the entire interview with both candidates on the KeepAmericaFishing website.