During the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s (NMMA) annual American Boating Congress in Washington, D.C. last week, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) helped lead the way for recreational fishing advocates on Capitol Hill, where more than 260 industry leaders gathered to discuss the current state of boating and related industries.
For NMMA and more than 20 industry organizations, including ASA, ABC provides a valuable platform for the recreational boating and fishing industries to evaluate legislative priorities, educate one another on policy issues and speak directly with members of Congress to help advance these issues. This year, ASA had an active role in promoting the recreational fishing industry’s advocacy priorities throughout the event.
ASA was well-represented through ABC’s many educational panels. Three panels specifically featured ASA staff highlighting fishing priorities. George Cooper, ASA’s consultant with Forbes-Tate, and I presented at the event’s Modern Fish Act panel, designed to educate attendees on the history of federal marine fisheries management law, explain why reform is so desperately needed and lay out how advocates help in our efforts to convince Congress to pass the Modern Fish Act.
ASA’s Florida Fisheries Policy Director Kellie Ralston presented during another panel focused on Water Infrastructure. Kellie’s remarks spotlighted Keep Florida Fishing, the Everglades and why the Water Resources Redevelopment Act matters to healthy and accessible fisheries. A third panel focused on conservation featured Kellie and ASA’s Government Affairs Vice President Scott Gudes, who presented on West Coast salmon issues.
ASA staff also led several groups of industry leaders around Capitol Hill as they met with Members of Congress and their staff. These meetings are critically important to raising awareness of top legislative priorities like the Modern Fish Act and ensuring that Members of Congress understand the importance of these issues to their constituents.
In addition to these roles, ASA also facilitated opportunities for recreational fishing advocates and the sport’s champions in Congress to spend time together, by co-hosting the Recreational Boating and Angling reception alongside BoatPAC and the Center for Sportfishing Policy (CSP) Wednesday evening. The reception honored members of the Congressional Boating Caucus and gave advocates an opportunity to have one-on-one discussions with industry champions.
Finally, ASA’s recently retired President and CEO Mike Nussman was honored by CSP with its Eddie Smith Award. CSP applauded Nussman’s career-long commitment to industry excellence, his decades of policy work and his success in marrying the boating and fishing industries legislatively to create a unified, powerful voice for the outdoors.
Overall, ABC was once again an extremely productive venue for the recreational boating and fishing industries to spread our message to Capitol Hill. We at ASA are grateful to NMMA for allowing us to participate in ABC and help advance our shared priorities.