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ASA News is the monthly e-newsletter from the American Sportfishing Association. Please scroll down for the complete document. Use the links in the right hand navigation under the specific topic area to access additional information.

For more information contact Communications Director Mary Jane Williamson, (703) 519-9691, x227.


A Message from ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman

Sportfishing Industry Mourns Untimely Passing of Angling Legend Jose Wejebe

Why Anglers Are Often “On the Fense” About Going Fishing

Government Affairs Update

  • U.S. Senate Approves Historic Gulf Restoration Amendment
  • New National Ocean Policy Draws Criticism from the Sportfishing Community in House Hearing
  • Concerns at Biscayne National Park Prompt Sportfishing and Boating Leaders to Request Meeting with Secretary of Interior
  • Sportsman Retained as California Fish and Game Commission President
  • Secretaries Commit to Increased Collaboration on National Fish Habitat Action Plan
  • New Cape Hatteras Legislation Supports Responsible Resource Management and Fishing Access
  • Legislation to Expand Lead Fishing Tackle Regulations Gains Momentum in New Hampshire
  • Legislation to Designate Striped Bass as Game Fish in Massachusetts
  • Anglers’ Rights to Access Public Waters Threatened by Pending Virginia Civil Court Decision
  • Controversial Study in Massachusetts Offers Anglers Money to Not Fish

ICAST Update

  • Register and Reserve Housing for ICAST 2012

Fish Habitat Restoration Proposals Due April 30


Sportfishing Industry Mourns Untimely Passing of Angling Legend Jose Wejebe
ASA extends its condolences to the family of fishing legend Jose Wejebe who died last Friday, April 6, in Florida. Jose “The Spanish Fly” Wejebe was an angler extraordinaire, TV host, conservation advocate and friend to the association and the entire sportfishing community. Jose also served as a spokesperson for KeepAmericaFishing™, sharing his commitment to marine conservation and sustainable fishing with anglers nationwide. He was loved by millions of anglers the world over for his passion for fishing and his unique ability to share that passion whether through his popular TV show or personally through the many appearances he made at shows and events across the U.S. He will be greatly missed.

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Why Anglers Are Often “On the Fence” About Going Fishing
A 2007 study of state fishing license sales revealed that a majority of Americans who identify themselves as anglers don’t fish every year. ASA sought to find out why not, and perhaps more importantly, what these self-professed anglers do instead of fishing. The follow-up study – On the Fence About Fishing< – conducted by Southwick Associates and Responsive Management on ASA’s behalf examine why anglers do and don’t fish, as well as offer recommendations about what will get them back on the water. You can find the study on Southwick Associate’s website.

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U.S. Senate Approves Historic Gulf Restoration Amendment
On March 14 the Senate voted to approve the transportation bill S. 1813. Included as an amendment was the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act S. 1400, introduced by Sens. Mary Landrieu (D- La.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). The amendment helps ensure that 80 percent of the funds from the Clean Water Act and other penalties assessed in the wake of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill are used to pay for economic and environmental restoration projects in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Of particular importance to the sportfishing industry is funding provided in RESTORE to establish a research, science and technology program aimed at improving Gulf fisheries management and monitoring. The amendment also includes a major increase in funding for the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which provides money to federal, state and local governments for the acquisition of land and water to benefit conservation and recreation. The House of Representatives was unable to come to an agreement by the March 31, 2012 deadline and ultimately approved a 90 day extension of the current transportation bill signed by President Obama on March 30, 2012. ASA continues to engage legislators to ensure that the RESTORE Act is included in ongoing negotiations for a more extensive long term bill.

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New National Ocean Policy Draws Criticism from the Sportfishing Community in House Hearingg
On March 22, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs held a hearing to address how the new National Ocean Policy will impact recreational fishing’s access to our public waters. Gary Zurn, senior vice-president of Big Rock Sports, LLC, headquartered in North Carolina, testified about the growing concern within the recreational fishing community about how increased fishing restrictions, regulations and closures, and the further uncertainty about the National Ocean Policy will impact the industry and the nation’s 13 million saltwater anglers. Zurn serves on ASA’s Board of Directors and is the Chairman of its Government Affairs Saltwater Committee. For more information, read the press release.

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Concerns at Biscayne National Park Prompt Sportfishing and Boating Leaders to Request Meeting with Secretary of Interior
ASA, along with BoatUS, the Center for Coastal Conservation, the Coastal Conservation Association, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the International Game Fish Association, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Billfish Foundation has requested a meeting with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to discuss potential solutions to a significant problem currently unfolding in Florida’s Biscayne National Park, one of the country's largest urban recreational fishing areas (Miami), supporting approximately 10 million angler trips per year. Despite major opposition from anglers, boaters and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, park managers are proposing to close more than 10,500 acres of the park’s most popular and productive areas to all fishing. ASA is concerned not only with the negative impacts that this closure will have on anglers and recreational-fishing dependent businesses in south Florida, but also with the precedent this proposal will set for National Park Service units across the country.

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Sportsman Retained as California Fish and Game Commission Presidentt
In a victory for anglers and hunters, the California state legislature is no longer considering a resolution to remove California Fish and Game Commission President Dan Richards from the commission. In late February, Richards, an avid angler, hunter and friend to sportsmen and women, was unfairly attacked by extreme environmental and animal rights organizations for taking part in a legal cougar hunt in Idaho. Hundreds of anglers sent messages to the California legislature expressing their support for Richards through www.KeepAmericaFishing.org, ultimately defeating efforts to remove Richards from his post.

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New Cape Hatteras Legislation Supports Responsible Resource Management and Fishing Access
National Park Service officials recently adopted a new off-road vehicle (ORV) management plan for Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area (CHNSRA) that severely restricts access to the most popular areas of the seashore far beyond what is needed for fish and wildlife resource management. The plan not only threatens sportfishing in the park, but the seashore’s local economy, which is largely dependent upon tourism and recreation. On February 28, Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC) introduced legislation H.R. 4094 to reinstate the Park Service’s Interim Protected Species Management Strategy governing ORV and pedestrian access. The bill will overturn the newly adopted ORV management plan, and a similarly onerous 2008 Consent Decree that has guided park management for the last three years. ASA encourages all members to send a message to their Members of Congress in support of H.R. 4094 to help bring recreation back to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area.

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Legislation to Expand Lead Fishing Tackle Regulations Gains Momentum in New Hampshire
In March, the New Hampshire State Senate voted to pass legislation SB 224 to expand current restrictions on the use of lead sinkers and jigs in state waters. SB 224 was introduced on January 4 and a recent amendment, supported by loon preservation advocates and lake shore owners, further expands the proposed ban by prohibiting the use of any lead jig measuring 2.5 inches or less. Current regulations banning the use of lead jigs measuring one inch or less are already onerous enough, impacting anglers’ ability to enjoy the sport. The bill has now moved to the state House of Representatives for further consideration. ASA encourages all members to take action against this unwarranted legislation through KeepAmericaFishing™.

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Legislation to Designate Striped Bass as Game Fish in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is considering legislation (H.260) that will designate striped bass as a game fish in its state waters. In February, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture heard testimony for and against the bill, but did not take any action. By designating this species as a game fish, striped bass will be managed solely as recreational fish and will not be available for commercial harvest and sale. Similar measures in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine and many other states have resulted in healthier and more abundant fish populations in their waters with the associated economic benefits. ASA encourages all members of the sportfishing industry to send a message to the Massachusetts legislature today in support of H.260.

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Anglers’ Rights to Access Public Waters Threatened by Pending Virginia Civil Court Decision
A Virginia landowner is currently suing two anglers for trespassing on a portion of the Jackson River based on crown and commonwealth land grants ceded almost 300 years ago. These grants predate Virginia law stating that all river and stream beds are public property. Despite having both public law and the official position of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries on the anglers’ side, the Attorney General’s Office has refused to step into this case to defend the interests of the Commonwealth, its trust resources and its people. If the Court decides in favor of the real estate developer, property owners across the state could deny access to anglers and other recreationists on stretches of water for which they hold crown or commonwealth grants. ASA encourages all members to a message to Governor Bob McDonnell and Virginia’s Attorney General’s office, requesting that the state intervene in this case to defend the interests of the Commonwealth and its people.

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Controversial Study in Massachusetts Offers Anglers Money to Not Fish
The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and NOAA Fisheries recently initiated a socioeconomic study in which 500 saltwater anglers were offered up to $500 cash in exchange for relinquishing their 2012 Massachusetts Saltwater Recreational Fishing Permit. The study is intended to improve socio-economic data and provide a more complete understanding of the true value of recreational fisheries. While ASA supports improved socio-economic data to drive decision making in the marine fisheries management process, ASA and the sportfishing community has expressed its concerns with NOAA Fisheries about the impacts this study will have on recreational-fishing dependent businesses due to lost fishing opportunity, as well as the lack of outreach to the recreational fishing community prior to the initiation of the study.

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Fish Habitat Restoration Proposals Due April 30
The FishAmerica Foundation and the NOAA Restoration Center are accepting proposals for community-based habitat restoration projects across coastal America, the Great Lakes region, and U.S. Territories of the Caribbean until April 30. Non-profit organizations including sporting clubs and conservation associations are encouraged to apply for funding. Interested organizations can find the application packet at www.FishAmerica.org.

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Register and Reserve Housing for ICAST 2012
Hotel rooms are going quickly, so register now to guarantee a room at one of the official ICAST hotels. If you attended ICAST 2011, you should have received an email from Experient, our registration company, with your 2011 user name and password which you’ll need to start the ICAST 2012 registration process. If you did not receive this email, contact Experient at ASA-ICAST@experient-inc.com, or call 301-694-5243. Exhibitor badges are $10.00 per badge until June 8 when the cost rises to $30.00 per badge.

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A Message from ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman
It came as shock to me and to the entire sportfishing community when we learned about the untimely death of fishing legend Jose Wejebe on April 6, in Florida. On behalf of the association’s members and staff; I extend our condolences to the Wejebe family.

Jose, known in professional circles as “The Spanish Fly” due to his Cuban heritage, who had uncanny talent with a rod and reel; and hosted the TV show of the same name, was acknowledged as an angler extraordinaire and admired by people all over the world. He was also a great friend to the association and to KeepAmericaFishing™ lending his name to help advocate for our sport.

That was what I believe was the heart and soul of Jose Wejebe. He loved fishing and loved engaging people in the sport. I’ve been reading the different online comments about Jose and the outpouring of support for his family and the acknowledgement that we lost a good friend. Many people were sharing their personal stories. Here is mine. It was several years ago that Jose made a personal appearance at the Saltwater Fishing Expo in Somerset, N.J. I was in the room observing just how wide a variety of folks were in the room to listen to Jose speak about his fishing adventures. It was standing room only. Jose had just been introduced when a very burly man shouted from the back of the room: “Jose, we love you!” And the room exploded with spontaneous laughter and applause. It’s all too true that his loss will be felt by millions of people.

I also believe that in his memory and in memory of everyone who has gone before him who loved fishing, it's crucial that we do all we can to help ensure that anglers and their families can continue to enjoy a day on the water. The spring fishing season is in full swing in most parts of our country. Historically, since recessions come and go, fishing is one of the last things to go and one of the first to recover. Because it's a pastime; it's not as expensive as buying a car or taking a vacation. People still find a way to get outside and go fishing.

But in order to do that, anglers must have three things – clean water, plenty of fish and access to fishing. While state fishing license fees and the federal excise tax on fishing tackle goes a long way to help ensure that we have clean water and fish, access is a concern for everyone. Closing our public resources to recreational activities as a management tool can have a devastating impact on businesses and livelihoods that are dependent on those activities. We need to ensure that our public resources remain open for American families to experience these recreational pursuits consistent with conservation goals. We still have a long way to go and ASA will remain engaged to ensure we will not be excluded when policy decisions are made that impact our industry.

The new National Ocean Policy is just one of many fishing policy issues in which we are actively engaged. We are also involved in improvements to the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, ensuring that state and federal marine protected areas, such as Biscayne National Park in Florida, are not implemented without a sound basis in science, improving federal land access, restoring the Gulf of Mexico environment and economy in light of the BP oil spill disaster, and many others.

We are fortunate to have strong partnerships with many of the other leading recreational fishing and boating organizations including the Billfish Foundation, the Center for Coastal Conservation (CCC), the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), International Game Fish Association (IGFA), National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and others. We have also made tremendous strides over the last several years to engage our nation’s 60 million anglers in policy issues that impact their right to fish through our KeepAmericaFishing™ campaign.

This all leads up to my assurances that ASA does everything in its power to safeguard, enhance and promote recreational fishing's future. You have my word on it!

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