SOLDOTNA, Alaska – The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a field hearing titled “Reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act: Oversight of Fisheries Management Successes and Challenges” at Kenai Peninsula College in Soldotna, Alaska. Ben Speciale, president of Yamaha Marine Group; Liz Ogilvie, chief marketing officer of the American Sportfishing Association; and Spud Woodward, director of the Coastal Resources Division at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, testified on the economic impacts of the recreational fishing industry, the need for modernization of federal fisheries management policies and better data collection. The field hearing was led by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard.
The hearing took place ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Kenai River Classic (Aug. 23 – 25), an annual three-day invitation fishing event held each summer to raise funds for habitat restoration projects, fisheries education, research and management. Since its inception, the event, led by the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, has raised more than $14 million.
“On behalf of America’s 11 million saltwater anglers, we thank Senator Sullivan for conducting this important hearing and listening to the needs of all stakeholders,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “During the conversation about changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, we encourage our congressional leaders to acknowledge that what works for fisheries management in some regions of the country does not work for all. We urge Congress to finally bring parity to federal fisheries management.”
“The saltwater recreational fishing economy is much more far reaching than we think, and that is why it is so important that we amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act to take into account the needs of the recreational fishing economy,” said Ben Speciale, president of Yamaha Marine Group. “Recreational fishing and commercial fishing are two fundamentally different activities needing distinctly different management tools.”
The “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017” (Modern Fish Act) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 2023) and U.S. Senate (S. 1520) earlier this year to address the core issues within federal fisheries management that are limiting the public’s ability to enjoy saltwater recreational fishing, and will help maximize the economic, social and conservation benefits that recreational fishing provides to the nation.
“The bipartisan Modern Fish Act addresses many of the challenges faced by recreational anglers, including allowing alternative management approaches for recreational fishing, reexamining fisheries allocations, smartly rebuilding fish stocks and improving recreational data collection,” said Liz Ogilvie, chief marketing officer of the American Sportfishing Association. “The bill would benefit recreational fishing access and conservation. As a community, comprised of thousands of businesses and the millions of customers they serve, we want modern management approaches, science and technology to guide decision-making.”
You can view a video of the hearing and witness testimony here.
(As a supporter/member of the American Sportfishing Association, Center for Sportfishing Policy and Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation, B.A.S.S. supports angler access rights in saltwater as well as freshwater.)