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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

Government Affairs Update

  • Anti-Lead Fishing Tackle Legislation Defeated in Washington
  • Rule Eliminates South Atlantic Bottom Fishing Closure
  • NOAA Fisheries Implements Annual Catch Limits for Most Federal Fisheries
  • North Carolina Legislature Considering Coastal Game Fish Bill
  • New Management Plan Restricts Angling Access at Cape Hatteras
  • Draft National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan Released
  • NOAA Fisheries Improves Catch Estimate Accuracy
  • More than $7.5 Million Distributed to Support Recreational Boating
  • Council Announces Extension of Visioning Initiative

ICAST Update

  • Register Now for ICAST 2012

2012 Sportfishing Summit

  • Mark Your Calendar for the 2012 Sportfishing Summit

KeepAmericaFishing Update

  • Win the Ultimate Sportfishing Experience
  • KeepAmericaFishing Made Great Strides in 2011

Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Programs

  • Your Investment in Our Nation's Fish and Wildlif

Fishing Tackle Retailer Update

  • Fishing Tackle Retailer is Under New Ownership


Anti-Lead Fishing Tackle Legislation Defeated in Washington
Legislation (HB 2241) in Washington state to ban popular lead fishing tackle statewide was quickly defeated in the House Environment Committee and has been removed from the committee’s agenda for the remainder of its legislative session. HB 2241 comes on the heels of a partial ban that was implemented in 2011 despite large public outcry. ASA encouraged Washington’s sportfishing industry to take action against the bill and nearly 500 anglers voiced their opposition through KeepAmericaFishing™.

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Rule Eliminates South Atlantic Bottom Fishing Closure
NOAA Fisheries approved a rule (Regulatory Amendment 11) to eliminate the 240-foot closure that was previously approved in Amendment 17B to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region. The rule aims to reduce the socioeconomic impacts of Amendment 17B. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) is exploring additional measures to prevent overfishing of warsaw grouper and speckled hind, including establishment of mid-shelf marine protected areas. For more information, and details on upcoming public scoping meetings, read the SAFMC’s press release.

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NOAA Fisheries Implements Annual Catch Limits for Most Federal Fisheries
In January, in response to statutory mandates in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), NOAA Fisheries assigned annual catch limits for the majority of federal fisheries and anticipates the remainder of fisheries to have catch limits in place by the start of their 2012 season. Unfortunately, many of these new catch limits are based on incomplete, flawed or even non-existent data, which will likely result in harsher restrictions and closures due to the guesswork that went into this decision. ASA is pursuing all options to provide NOAA Fisheries with the time, resources and guidance to end overfishing without imposing unnecessary and arbitrary catch limits that may result in lost access, lost jobs and lost business from coast to coast.

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North Carolina Legislature Considering Coastal Game Fish Bill
The Coastal Game Fish Bill, HB 353, is currently being considered by a special joint legislative committee of the North Carolina General Assembly. This legislation seeks to designate striped bass, red drum and spotted sea trout as game fish in state waters, improving the quality of recreational fishing and boosting the economic impact of these fisheries. Though the bill was widely supported in 2011, the General Assembly did not meet the legislative deadlines and HB 353 was referred to a special joint legislative committee.

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New Management Plan Restricts Angling Access at Cape Hatteras
The final rule for off-road vehicle (ORV) use at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area (CHNSRA) was announced on January 23, and becomes effective on February 15, 2012. Contrary to the Obama Administration’s emphasis on outdoor recreation through the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, the management plan closes extensive areas of the seashore to the public and severely limits ORV access, far outweighing what is needed to address resource protection. The final rule creates new night-time driving restrictions; establishes a new education and permit program for ORV use; and allows the park superintendent to close extensive areas of the beach to all human access for resource protection or other reasons. ORV access to CHNSRA is essential for surf fishing from the beaches, as well as many other recreational activities. This final plan poses serious issues for the local economy, which is largely dependent upon tourism and recreation, and will set an unfortunate precedent for several National Seashores that will soon be preparing their ORV management plans. For more information, read the final ORV management plan.

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Draft National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan Released
On January 12, the National Ocean Council released the draft National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan for public comment. The Implementation Plan describes more than 50 actions the federal government intends to take to meet the goals of the National Ocean Policy. ASA is reviewing the plan and will submit comments reinforcing the message that public access for recreation must be a top priority in President Obama’s new National Ocean Policy. Click here to read the draft plan and submit comments.

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NOAA Fisheries Improves Catch Estimate Accuracy
NOAA Fisheries released recalculated recreational catch estimates for the Atlantic and Gulf coasts going back to 2004 through the new and improved Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP). MRIP is a more accurate system for NOAA Fisheries to collect, analyze and report recreational fishing data, replacing the Marine Recreational Fishing Statistical Survey (MRFSS), which the National Research Council determined to be “fatally flawed” in 2006. Many important management decisions such as annual catch limits have been made based off of catch estimates from MRFSS and must now be revisited due to differing estimates between MRIP and MRFSS. NOAA Fisheries must now coordinate with the regional fishery management councils, state fisheries commissions and stakeholders to review what regulatory changes are needed as a result of the transition to MRIP. For more information, read NOAA’s fact sheet.

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More than $7.5 Million Distributed to Support Recreational Boating
On January 25, Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced more than $7.5 million in competitive grants to support recreational boating through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Boating Infrastructure Grant program. Salazar acknowledged the large economic impact that outdoor recreation, notably boating and fishing, contributes to our nation every year. Funding for the Boating Infrastructure Grant program comes from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which boaters and manufacturers support through excise and other taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment and motor boat fuel. Eleven projects in ten states will be receiving these competitive grants and $2.5 million in smaller noncompetitive grants is expected to be distributed for additional projects in 26 states. For more information and a list of selected projects, read the Interior’s press release.

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Council Announces Extension of Visioning Initiative
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council has extended the public survey comment period for its Visioning Initiative through February 29. The council has managed most of its fisheries to healthy populations and is developing a cohesive plan for future management success. The Visioning Initiative surveys and submission of position letters is a way for interested parties and individuals to contribute to this effort. KeepAmericaFishing encourages its anglers located or involved in the mid-Atlantic region to visit www.mafmc.org/vision for additional details about the project or for survey links and position letter guidelines.

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Register Now for ICAST 2012
Don’t miss the opportunity to attend the world’s largest sportfishing tradeshow!

Registration is open for ICAST 2012 taking place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., July 11-13. We’ve improved the registration process this year so you can now register for the show and make your hotel reservations at the same time. You can register online at www.ICASTfishing.org.

Please note that ICAST is open only to qualified members of the sportfishing trade. 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.

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Mark Your Calendar for the 2012 Sportfishing Summit
Mark your calendar today for the 2012 Sportfishing Summit, ASA’s annual meeting and premier membership event. The Summit will take place October 9-11, at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa in Hilton Head, S.C. For more information, contact Communications Director Mary Jane Williamson, x237.

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Win the Ultimate Sportfishing Experience
To celebrate achieving more than 500,000 members, KeepAmericaFishing and GAFF Magazine are offering anglers the chance to win the Ultimate Sportfishing Experience. Show your support for fisheries conservation and “like” KeepAmericaFishing or GAFF Magazine on Facebook now through February 29, 2012, to enter to win “the adventure of a lifetime” for two in beautiful Islamorada, Fla., complete with complimentary airfare and car rental, resort lodging and dining, full- and half-day chartered fishing trips, fishing gear, apparel and much more. Kurt Artecona, CEO of GAFF Entertainment says, “We are honored to partner with KeepAmericaFishing to protect the sport we love for generations to come.” To learn more about fisheries conservation and enter The Ultimate Sportfishing Experience, visit www.KeepAmericaFishing.org/ultimategiveaway. See Terms and Conditions. Restrictions do apply.

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KeepAmericaFishing™ Made Great Strides in 2011
KeepAmericaFishing lists a number of achievements that helped keep anglers on the water including defeating a proposed ban on lead fishing tackle to introducing legislation to stop unwarranted fisheries closures. One of our most important accomplishments was seeing our KeepAmericaFishing community grow to more than 509,000 anglers. We thank ASA’s members and our nation’s anglers for their support.

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Your Investment in Our Nation's Fish and Wildlife
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs (WSFR), the backbone of our nation’s conservation
programs. If you’ve ever purchased fishing lures, rods and reels, firearms or ammunition, bows, arrows, hunting or fishing licenses or fueled up your boat — you’re part of the most successful effort to conserve fish and wildlife in America. The effort has resulted in millions of acres of habitat saved and near-miraculous population increases in several species of game and sport fish. It really is Your Nature! is the theme for the anniversary. ASA is partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to bring this message to ICAST this July in Orlando.

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Fishing Tackle Retailer is Under New Ownership
Fishing Tackle Retailer LLC has a new ownership team led by Brian Thurston, President of FTR Media LLC. The new team is dedicated to making the publication a continued leader in the B2B industry. Additionally, all sales and editorial personnel remain the same with Clem Dippel
continuing as publisher. Contact FRT Media LLC at (731) 772-9962 or maryann@fishingtackleretailer.com.

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A Message from ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman
The recent actions of the National Park Service are a perfect example of the one hand not knowing what the other hand is doing and the detrimental impact it’s having on our industry and anglers. The sportfishing industry and the entire outdoor recreation community, in large measure, supports the administration’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative and its overarching mission of getting Americans of all ages outdoors,
which ultimately will have a positive impact on the jobs an businesses that depend on recreation. However, this message isn’t being communicated within the National Park Service where prohibiting public access to recreational fishing and other outdoor opportunities is increasingly being proposed as a way of addressing their resource management challenges.

This issue was really brought into clear focus for me during the recent Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Council advises the Secretary of the Interior on aquatic conservation issues related to recreational fishing and boating. Days before that meeting, the National Park Service released its final rule which essentially prohibits off-road vehicle access at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area. I’m a North Carolina native and I’ve spent many hours surf fishing on the Cape. ASA, our members and the Cape Hatteras business community have spent several frustrating years grappling with the National Park Service and their intent to establish the most excessive and extreme closures seen to date, which the new rule put into effect. Whatever happened to compromise and common sense?

Cape Hatteras is not the only area under National Park Service jurisdiction that is working towards closing a large area of public lands and waters to the people who enjoy them. In fact, park officials at Biscayne National Park, the largest marine park in the National Park system and one of the country's largest urban recreational fishing areas located just outside of Miami, are also proposing to restrict recreational fishing and boating through the creation of marine protected areas and large non-motorized access zones. ASA is certainly not alone in opposing the proposed management plan at Biscayne National Park.

Numerous stakeholders, including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and even the park’s own Fishery Management Plan working group have all opposed the idea of establishing no-fishing zones in the park. Regardless, Biscayne National Park’s superintendent has shunned the common sense solutions offered by these groups and plans to move forward with his proposal to close much of the most popular and productive shallow water areas in the park. Even though the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council was meeting just up the road, Biscayne National Park staff never responded to an invitation from the Council to meet with us to discuss this important issue.

The sportfishing and boating community recognizes that there are management challenges facing Biscayne National Park as well as in many other national parks across the country. However, simply excluding the public from accessing public resources is not the appropriate way to address these challenges. Unwarranted closures to public access will inevitably keep Americans from enjoying the great outdoors and diminish the economic benefit of sportfishing and boating to local economies – none of which is compatible with the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.
We continue to raise our concerns with Park Service officials, the administration and state and federal legislators, but there is a pressing need to act quickly as the final management plan for Biscayne National Park will likely be released sometime in 2012.

I encourage everyone in the sportfishing community who is concerned with what is occurring at Biscayne National Park and other unwarranted attempts to restrict recreational fishing to visit www.KeepAmericaFishing.org and do all you can to help put common sense back into our conservation decisions.

 

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