With the new Congress (finally!) underway and agencies, state legislatures and other sportfishing stakeholders returning from the holidays, all of us at the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) are excited to undertake the policies and issues that will advance the sportfishing industry, conserve public land and waters and ensure fish populations remain healthy in 2023.

Although we are already busy with our policy priorities for 2023, we are proud of our accomplishments from 2022. At both the national and state levels, we ensured that anglers could keep fishing and that fish populations continue to remain vital. Below is a list of some of our policy victories from 2022:

National Victories

Atlantic Victories

  • Successfully worked with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission on Amendment 7 to the Atlantic Striped Bass Interstate Fishery Management Plan, which rebuilds the fishery while ensuring that anglers have plenty of opportunities to fish.
  • Collaborated with the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council on new harvest control rules (HCR) for recreational fishery management and ensured the HCR will be used for 2023 specifications.
  • Worked with like-minded organizations and industry leaders to generate awareness of, and opposition to, NOAA Fisheries’ proposed speed vessel rule, which requires all boats 35 feet and longer off most of the Atlantic coast to limit speeds to 10 knots.

Southeast Victories

  • Following the passage of the DESCEND Act, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) took the first steps towards requiring reef fish anglers to carry and use descending devices and venting tools on boats to reduce barotrauma in reef fish, a victory for a long-term ASA priority.
  • Worked with U.S. Representatives John Rutherford (R-Fla.) and Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) on introducing bipartisan legislation that prevents NOAA from enacting South Atlantic area closures for snapper grouper until the conclusion of the South Atlantic Great Red Snapper Count and implementation of its findings.
  • Ensured the Everglades restoration projects received an increase in state and federal funding.
  • Averted a closure of bottom fishing in the South Atlantic.

Inland Victories

  • Worked alongside coalition partners to advance an EPA proposed determination that effectively vetoes the Pebble Mine in the Bristol Bay headwaters.
  • Supported the passage of the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Reauthorization Act, which reauthorizes a regional U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program that supports research projects on fisheries and aquatic habitats through 2028.
  • Successfully included provisions in the NDAA of the Water Resources Development Act relating to combatting aquatic invasive species and improving U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreational facilities.

Pacific Victories

  • The inclusion of the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act in the omnibus spending bill, which will phase out the use of large mesh drift gillnets in California’s swordfish fishery.
  • Worked with stakeholders and state agencies throughout the west coast states to improve data collection of stock status for nearshore rockfish.

To learn more about some of our other accomplishments in 2022, be sure to check out previous entries of The Sportfishing Advocate. Stay tuned for upcoming information on ASA’s policy goals for 2023.

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AUTHOR

John Chambers