Category Archives: Fishing Politics

Fight to Stop the Banning of Lead Fishing Products – Protect The Use Of Traditional Tackle

Protect The Use Of Traditional Tackle – Stop the Lead Ban

  • from The Fishing Wire

Efforts are underway to prevent the use of lead tackle for fishing despite scant evidence that using lead has a harmful impact on wildlife populations.

Please use the resources below to learn more about this important issue and how to engage your company and consumers to protect our industry.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced plans to prohibit the use of lead tackle in several national wildlife refuges. Banning lead tackle will deter fishing participation and, given the lack of scientific basis for the ban, sets the stage for future unwarranted restrictions. We need people to reach out to USFWS to support the use of traditional tackle by August 22.

While we are hoping to work in consultation with USFWS, recent legislation was also introduced in Congress to address this issue. The Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act, was introduced in both chambers of Congress. If passed, this new bill would prohibit federal land management agencies from banning the use of traditional lead tackle and ammunition on public lands unless such action is supported by the best available science and has state wildlife and fish agency approval.

What’s the issue

The recreational fishing community fully supports conservation, and we have a long record of making changes and sacrifices that help the environment. However, conservation must be rooted in sound science. The USFWS provides no evidence that lead fishing tackle is harming any specific wildlife populations in the proposed areas. This proposal is a proverbial “camel’s nose under the tent” that could escalate to much broader and equally baseless restrictions on your ability to fish.

Why it matters

Anglers and hunters are America’s original conservationists. The nation depends on their continued ability to fish and hunt to maintain public lands.

Anglers around the country depend on the performance and affordability of lead, especially in sinkers and jigs. While alternatives exist, they come with tradeoffs in cost and/or performance. Protecting traditional tackle from unwarranted bans is critical for ensuring that anglers can enjoy the sport. Banning lead will also potentially impact fishing license sales and ultimately reduce funding available for conservation. It is important that our industry makes a compelling case to the USFWS that anglers should be able to continue the use of traditional tackle.

What ASA is doing

In addition to the hard work of the ASA Government Affairs team, ASA has been engaging KAF supporters nationwide urging them to submit comments to the USFWS during the open comment period which closes on August 22. We have also asked supporters to write letters to their Members of Congress in support of the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act. In addition, we are actively promoting the issue widely through podcasts and social media.

On June 22, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) made an announcement to proceed with prohibitions on lead fishing tackle throughout several national wildlife refuges in which hunting and fishing opportunities are being expanded. ASA issued a statement in response the USFWS announcement.

On August 22, 2023, ASA submitted a letter on the 2023-2024 Station-Specific Hunting and Sport Fishing Regulations for the National Wildlife Refuge System, expressing our concerns with the proposed bans on lead fishing tackle in seven refuges.

What you can do

Write your Members of Congress

Write your Members of Congress urging them to support the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act. Click here to see sample letters and text


Share on Social Media

Post about this issue on your social media platforms and direct your followers to our Keep America Fishing action alert.

Send an Invitation to Policymakers

Invite your policymakers to your facility to help them understand the importance of our industry and your contribution to the industry. Please reach out to Mike Leonard at for help.

Four Fishing Etiquette Tips Desperately Needed By High School Fishermen and Captains and Too Many Other Fishermen


One of the biggest pet peeves for many freshwater anglers is when they are having a good day fishing from a boat in a quiet spot on the lake or river and another angler comes along, pulls up right beside them and starts casting in the same area without asking first.

“It happens pretty much on a daily basis,” said Mercury Pro Team member Michael Neal.

If it’s a public body water, everyone is welcome to use the resource, of course. In most places, there are no written rules about how far you need to stay away from other boats and anglers. It’s within your rights to fish next to someone, as long as you aren’t harassing them (intentional angler harassment is against the law in many states). It’s up to each individual angler to decide what’s responsible behavior in terms of how much distance to put between your boat and theirs. Practicing good fishing etiquette means treating other anglers and boaters on the water with respect and giving them their space.

Neal, who fishes the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour and Pro Circuit, said it all comes down to following the Golden Rule. “Treat others the way you want to be treated,” he said.

“Communication is key. It’s the number one thing that makes your day on the water go smoothly,” added Mercury Pro Team member and Bassmaster Elite Series angler John Crews.

Here are four fishing etiquette tips from these two pros to help keep it friendly and fun for everyone on the water. What’s outlined here are unwritten rules that guide tournament anglers and serious recreational anglers.

  1. A “bent pole pattern,” indicating that an angler has a fish on the line, is not an invitation to take your boat to that angler’s position and start fishing right next to them. It’s probably better to go somewhere else, but if it’s a spot you had already hoped to fish, just wait it out. “My advice is to wait until they leave to go over to that spot,” said Neal.
  2. When another angler is fishing in a spot near where you would like to fish, stop your boat within hailing distance and let the person know your wishes. For example, if an angler is fishing partway back in a creek, and you want to fish all the way in the back, ask first if he or she intends to head deeper into the creek before you go there yourself. “If I go into an area where someone else is fishing, I ask them if they are going to continue, and if it’s OK for me to fish there. If they are having a bad day and they want to be rude about it, you don’t want to be fishing around them anyway,” Crews said. On crowded lakes, you’re likely to wind up fishing near someone. In that case, keep a respectful distance. “We usually have a mutual understanding: ‘Don’t get any closer to me, and I won’t get any closer to you,’” Neal said, referring to his fellow tournament anglers.
  3. Don’t pass too close to another angler’s boat. “Stay away from the side where their rods are; pass on the other side if you can,” Crews said, adding that it’s important to give other boats with active anglers a wide berth when you pass, if there’s room. “Two hundred to 300 feet is ideal; 100 feet at a minimum. Pass at speed and make a minimal wake rather than slowing down and pulling a big wake. However, if there isn’t room to pass far enough away, come off plane well before you get near the other boat and idle past.”
  4. Never, ever cross lines with another angler. “The number one no-no is to cast across somebody else’s line. I’ve had it happen to me personally. I decided to leave the spot to him. I figured, if it’s important enough for him to do that, he can have it,” Neal said.

Use common courtesy, and there should be enough space for everyone to fish in harmony. When in doubt, err on the side of being as respectful as possible.

“Most anglers are super cool, and as long as you can communicate with them, you can make it work,” Crews concluded.

NOAA Fisheries Now More Responsive to Needs of Recreational Anglers

Russell Dunn, National Policy Advisor for Recreational Fisheries, with a nice rainbow runner caught off Ft. Pierce, Florida.

Russ Dunn
from The Fishing Wire

Read a new leadership message from Russ Dunn, National Policy Advisor for Recreational Fisheries, in honor of National Fishing and Boating Week.

Anglers motoring a boat in California’s Sacramento Delta at sunrise. Photo: NOAA Fisheries/Jeremy NotchMore than 10 years ago, NOAA officially launched the National Recreational Fisheries Initiative with the opening of the National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Summit on April 16-17, 2010. Days prior to the Summit, ESPN published a column musing about the demise of recreational fishing as we knew it. The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded just three days later. Bookended by these events, the first national Summit opened a challenging long-term dialogue. It produced a very clear message: marine recreational fishermen had long-held frustrations with federal fisheries management they wanted addressed.

We left that first Summit understanding the need for institutional change, active public engagement, and the value of public-private partnerships. And we responded by changing the way we thought about recreational fisheries from top to bottom. We expanded agency planning, focus, and accountability around recreational fisheries through a series of detailed regional and national action plans between 2010 and 2019. And, we codified our new approach in the groundbreaking Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy in 2014.

Since 2010, active engagement and partnership with the recreational community has become deeply ingrained in agency culture. From quadrennial national summits to annual roundtable discussions in every part of the country, the agency works to stay current and connected. We have funded recreational fishermen to research and address many on-the-water priorities such as barotrauma and release mortality, marine debris, habitat restoration, and fish migration. We are working to educate the next generation of anglers, captains, and guides. We accomplish this by supporting programs as varied as the Marine Resource Education Program and the Bristol Bay Fly Fishing Academy.

In 2019, we reached another milestone when we signed a formal Memorandum of Agreement with leading recreational fishing community members at the Miami Boat Show. The MOA established a formal framework for communication and collaboration on mutually beneficial projects. They will advance our goals of supporting and promoting sustainable saltwaterrecreational fisheries for the benefit of the nation.

This year we established a new collaborative partnershipwith Bonnier Corporation—publisher of Saltwater Sportsman and Sport Fishing magazines—to promote sustainable recreational fishing.

Over the past 10 years NOAA Fisheries has accomplished quite a lot with the recreational fishing community, but we know our work is not done. We will continue to support sustainable saltwater recreational fishing now and years into the future for the benefit of the nation.

Which brings us to today. COVID-19 has upended life and business across the country and the world. This includes recreational anglers, for-hire operators, and the businesses that depend on them. In April and May, the agency worked quickly to allocate the CARES Act funds appropriated by the Congress and we will continue working to understand its impacts. As we collectively navigate the uncharted waters created by the COVID-19 virus, know that we do so together.

This National Fishing and Boating Week, let’s all rededicate ourselves to working together and facilitating a safe return of the American public to the water and fishing. So go grab your rod! I hope to see you out on the water soon.
Russ Dunn
National Policy Advisor for Recreational Fisheries

Problems with Double Crested Cormorants

Double Crested Cormorant

Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service Solicits Public Input on Cormorant Management
Tens of thousands of these fish-eating birds are impacting not only fish farms and hatcheries but also wild fish populations in many areas across the eastern U.S.–here’s a chance to make your voice heard.
from The Fishing Wire

WASHINGTON – As part of ongoing efforts to address conflicts between double-crested cormorants and wild and stocked fisheries, the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is announcing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) and soliciting public input on future management options.

“Balancing the protection of native wildlife with economic and human health needs is fundamental to effective management practices,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “Today’s action starts the process of improving management and further reduces conflicts with double-crested cormorants throughout the United States.

”Future management actions built on a strong biological foundation ensure cormorant populations are managed responsibly and in compliance with federal laws and regulations, while balancing economic development, human health and safety, endangered species management and other priorities.

“We are building long-term solutions for managing conflicts with double-crested cormorants under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act while maintaining healthy populations of this species,” said Aurelia Skipwith, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “This effort, in collaboration with our partners, will ensure continued good stewardship of our natural resources.

”In 2017, the Service completed an Environmental Assessment (EA) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) evaluating options for issuing individual depredation permits to provide relief for aquaculture facilities experiencing direct economic losses from cormorants across 37 central and eastern states and the District of Columbia.

The EA analyzed options for the issuance of depredation permits for cormorants where there is either significant economic damage to aquaculture facilities, significant damage to native vegetation, significant impact on a threatened or endangered species, or significant human safety risks. Upon completion of the EA on November 15, 2017, the Service began issuing permits to aquaculture facility managers and property owners across 37 central and eastern states and the District of Columbia.

This review did not include potential damage to recreational and commercial fishing by cormorants. Since the publication of the EA, the Service engaged stakeholders to assess the biological, social and economic significance of wild fish-cormorant interactions, and to identify a suite of management alternatives.

The Service is also currently working with tribes, state fish and wildlife agencies and other federal partners to assess comprehensive management options for cormorants across the United States.

“With nearly 30,000 water surface acres across Arkansas used for aquaculture production, our fish farmers contributed $71.1 million to our state’s economy in 2017. However, the United States Department of Agriculture estimates double-crested cormorants cause more than $25 million in damage annually within the aquaculture industry. These birds have become the foremost antagonists of fish farmers. We need commonsense solutions that allow aquaculture producers to safeguard their fish from these predators,” said U.S. Sen. John Boozman (AR).

“I applaud the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for responding to the need of aquaculture producers by increasing the amount of maximum allowable take of double-crested cormorants, and I look forward to working with the Department of Interior and USFWS to ensure we can find commonsense solutions to ease the burden for hard working Arkansan aquaculture producers.”“Arkansans are experiencing the harmful impact of double-crested cormorants across the state. As one of the top aquaculture producers in the nation, Arkansas and its fish farmers are suffering millions of dollars in losses as these avian predators consume critical inventory,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (AR).

“I am glad the Department of Interior is taking this problem seriously and hope that further progress will come swiftly.”“Bird predation costs producers millions of dollars every year. I applaud the Department of the Interior for taking this important step to help aquacultures producers address those losses,” said U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS).

“The double-crested cormorant has been detrimental to Mississippi’s catfish farmers,” said U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (MS).

“I am pleased that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is taking this issue seriously and is considering options to allow aquaculture producers to manage the populations of these predatory birds that are destroying fish populations.”“I am pleased to see the Department is moving forward in the rulemaking process for the depredation of double-crested cormorants. This is a desperately needed next step for Michigan’s First District, where over-population is threatening the health of our free swimming and recreational fisheries,” said U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (MI-01).

“I am grateful the Administration has committed to this process to ensure a long-term and effective management plan for Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.”“I am pleased with the efforts and action by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to increase the allowable take of double-crested cormorants. This is a necessary step to mitigate more than $25 million in annual damages to the catfish and aquaculture industry,” said U.S. Rep. Michael Guest (MS-03).

“I’m supportive of this proposed rule, which will have a positive impact on Mississippi’s catfish industry, and I will continue to work with FWS to promote Mississippi’s aquaculture needs.”“Science has consistently proven that managing cormorants is necessary to protect not just aquaculture but fishing as well. I applaud the administration for listening to input, increasing the take and promoting sound scientific practices,” said U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-04).

“Double-crested cormorants can pose a significant threat to American aquaculture. The American Farm Bureau Federation is pleased to learn that the Department of the Interior is moving forward to help provide farmers the necessary management tools to prevent double-crested cormorants from preying on farm livestock,” said President of the American Farm Bureau Federation Zippy Duvall.

“The strong return of double crested cormorants is a significant conservation success. But in the absence of natural predators, cormorants are inflicting substantial depredation on both private and public aquatic resources. This effort by the Fish and Wildlife Service is necessary and appropriate to maintain a healthy ecosystem,” said Former Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Dale Hall.

Public scoping for the rulemaking process will begin with the publication of the ANPR in the Federal Register on January 22, 2020, and will continue for 45 days until March 9, 2020. To promulgate a proposed rule and prepare a draft environmental review pursuant to NEPA, the Service will take into consideration all comments and any additional information received on or before that date. You may submit written comments by one of the following methods. Please do not submit comments by both. We do not accept email or faxes.

Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. FWS-HQ-MB-2019-0103.

By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–HQ–MB–2019–0103; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: JAO/1N, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803.

The Service seeks comments or suggestions from the public, governmental agencies, tribes, the scientific community, industry or any other interested parties. Areas for consideration include but are not limited to: potential reporting and monitoring strategies of cormorants by states and participating tribes; impacts on floodplains, wetlands, wild and scenic rivers or ecologically sensitive areas; impacts to other species of wildlife, including endangered or threatened species; and impacts on prime agricultural lands. Please see the Federal Register notice for more details.

The Fish and Wildlife service will post all comments on, including any personal information you provide. The Service will hold public scoping meetings in the form of multiple webinars in February 2020.More information about the rulemaking process, cormorants and meetings, including how to register, will be posted online at

Reflection On Independence Day and the Future of Our Freedoms

Independence Day Reflection
Jim Shepherd
from The Fishing Wire

As we prepare to celebrate our national birthday, I’m reflecting proudly on our past, but as a gun owner and recreational shooter, I’m concerned for our future.

Last week, two Supreme Court opinions led one of their own members (more on that below) to accuse the Court of being “drunk on power.”

In a dissenting opinion on gay marriage, Justice Antonin Scalia broadened his dissent with an accusation that the Supreme Court was willingly undermining a fundamental principle of the American Revolution: “the (people’s) freedom to govern themselves”.

Scalia used a decision he described as “lacking even a thin veneer of law” to say the Court made “a naked judicial claim to legislative- indeed super legislative power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government.”

Whatever your position on that issue, his words, which appeared very carefully chosen, should concern you.

He characterized the ruling as a “putsch”- a fighting word in most of the rest of the world. “Putsch” is the attempt to overthrow a government via suddenness and speed – a sneak attack.

Scalia and fellow dissenting Justice Clarence Thomas said the intent of the dissent was to “call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy”.

For firearms owners, that’s warning of what is likely ahead. The landmark Heller opinion reaffirming our right to keep and bear arms was upheld by the narrowest of margins.

Today, that same court seems to be more likely to restrict gun owners than affirm their freedoms.

Before you write to indignantly remind me the 2A only recognizes a God-given right, realize this: today’s Washington is as fundamentally different from our founding fathers as the Houses of Parliament and monarchy from which they declared independence.

Justice Scalia says the Supreme Court has affirmed the right of the elite to decide what’s best for “the rest of us”. Last week it was health care and personal partners. Next time, it could be the right of firearms ownership.

The Court’s apparent willingness to decide law rather than follow it has many other smart people, principally those located outside Washington, equally concerned.

Today’s Supreme Court, as described by two of its own members, is highly unrepresentative of the people – and actively engaged in a “social transformation” of the country.

In fact, Scalia’s dissenting opinion characterized the entire Federal judiciary as “hardly a cross-section of America.”

Should enough of the “unrepresented America” decide enough is enough and act, Justices Scalia and Thomas may have unknowingly authored the catchphrase for yet another Declaration of Independence.

The first American revolution, Scalia wrote, represented the ultimate rejection of “taxation without representation”. He continued, saying “social transformation without representation” was equally intolerable.

That accurately describes the feeling of many across the nation as many elected officials, sworn to follow both the law and will of their constituents, do neither.

They’re joined at the hip with a mainstream media which agrees with their reshaping of America. With “the watchdog of liberty”- a free and unbiased media- transitioned to lap dog, news is no longer reported; it’s tailored to fit a particular narrative.

In short, our leaders no longer believe us smart enough to make our own decisions -so they’re making them for us.

That’s what makes Justice Scalia’s dissent both damning and frightening.

It’s damning in his enumeration of just how far government has distanced itself from the people.

It’s frightening because it indicates Washington no longer fears dissenters -even when they sit on our Supreme Court.

If you accept what Justice Scalia has written as accurate, many in government believe the rest of us to unwilling to suffer the discomfort associated with defending our core beliefs and national values. And they’ve suborned millions into agreeing with them by making it better to live on the dole than work.

Absent a dissenting Supreme Court and with the judicial branch already playing follow the leader, they really see nothing to rein in their remaking of our country as they think it should be.

A wealth of anti-gun legislation has already been introduced at the state and national levels this year.

It may look like more of the same knee-jerk legislation offered on the heels of other national tragedies.

But today’s legislative, executive and judicial branches are fundamentally different from those of only a few years ago.

As tens of thousands of New Yorkers have refused to comply with the mandated registration of their modern sporting rifles, legislators have seethed and are quietly looking for some way to compel their compliance.

With the non-compliance, these gun owners have essentially made themselves willing criminals. But the legislators appear uncertain as to how far they can push to enforce their legislation.That’s partially due to many law enforcement officials saying they won’t be part of some police action against otherwise law-abiding citizens.

Still, many of those elected officials would have no problem declaring firearms ownership as entirely illegal, or making gun ownership a disqualification for anything from holding a government job to opening a bank account or obtaining medical care.

We will still celebrate Independence Day 2015 at my home tomorrow, because we still have much to be thankful for.

But I hope you’ll take a few minutes to consider the thoughts I’ve been compelled- but uncomfortable-to write as a holiday message.

Examine your own family and your beliefs, then ask the same Creator whose guidance was petitioned by our founding fathers to give you a sign as to what each of us can – and should – do going forward.

God bless each of you – and, yes, God bless America.

As always, we’ll keep you posted.

What Is Magnuson Stevens and What Does It Have To Do With Fishing?

Improvements Much Needed in Recreational Fishery

By Jim Donofrio, Executive Director
Recreational Fishing Alliance
from The Fishing Wire



As a longtime Jersey charter boat captain, listening to my customers’ needs was critical to business success. Now as executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, it’s my responsibility to listen to our individual members’ needs, which in many ways are the same as those I used to take fishing full time for tuna, striped bass, weakfish, bluefish and fluke.

The saltwater anglers I speak to on a daily basis want healthy fish stocks; they also want reasonable access. As rewritten in 2006 by special interests at the Marine Fish Conservation Network, the federal fisheries law (Magnuson Stevens) rebuilds fish stocks by stopping allowable fishing. Black sea bass is a rebuilt fishery that environmentalists tout as a Magnuson victory; New Jersey anglers, however, are not allowed to fish for sea bass from Jan. 1 through May 26, and on July 2 will be allowed only two fish.

Summer flounder (fluke) is a rebuilt fishery that the Marine Fish Conservation Network cites as an example of Magnuson’s excellence, yet two years ago the state was forced into a more restrictive “regional” approach with New York, leading to an increase in state size limit now decimating South Jersey businesses forced to compete with Delaware.

At the same time, the federal government will not allow New Jersey to open the fluke season before May 17, thanks to the federal law and “fatally flawed” data collection. Meanwhile, recreational blueline tilefish anglers are facing draconian cutbacks because the government has failed to collect enough statistical data.

Magnuson Stevens was enacted in 1976 to protect our U.S. recreational and commercial fishing industry. It was meant to foster robust coastal communities while conserving coastal fish stocks. While Marine Fish Conservation Network lobbyists boast of their success with rewriting this law in 2006, they fail to address the impacts of lost angling opportunity. Today, their political operatives take great delight in reducing open congressional review of this law into partisan grandstanding, while the overwhelming majority of commercial and recreational fishing organizations have banded together in mutual support of H.R. 1335 to reform Magnuson Stevens.

The legislation passed by the House Natural Resources Committee addresses the arbitrary, congressionally created timelines for rebuilding fisheries, a hallmark legislative appeals put forth by Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., on behalf of New Jersey fishermen.

With support from new committee member Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., H.R. 1335 would also modify the rigid requirements now forcing draconian “accountability measures” leading to ever-shrinking seasons. It also would force management councils to provide more public transparency. H.R. 1335 would limit future “catch share” programs in our region (concepts pushed by the environmentalists to issue individual fish tags for all fishermen), and dedicate fishery fines toward data-poor fisheries while taking steps to improve recreational data collection.

As a registered lobbyist who works exclusively to represent saltwater anglers and the recreational fishing industry nationwide, it’s important that I listen to my members while also keeping open dialog with the opposition, wherever possible. Paul Eidman, who as early as December of 2009 was lobbying for Marine Fish Conservation Network to stymie efforts to allow improved angler access to rebuilding fish stocks, continues his partisan attacks against sensible fisheries reform through the Asbury Park Press.
After seven years of congressional hearings, it’s obvious that the federal fisheries law needs reform. It’s time for congressional Democrats to stand up on behalf of their angling public, and allow what once had bipartisan committee support to move forward, without partisan grandstanding on behalf of radical “green” ideology.

This law is rapidly destroying the robust fishing communities it was designed to protect.

Jim Donofrio is executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

Why Should I Call My Senator About The Sportsman Act?

Urge Support for S. 405: The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015
from The Fishing Wire

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following Action Alert was sent to its members by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. We agree that S. 405, The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 is an important one for all outdoor enthusiasts.

Contact your Senators at 202-224-3121 or email them and urge them to cosponsor S.405, the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act.

This week, anti-hunting forces in an attempt to derail the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act, sent Humane Society of the United States’ Wayne Pacelle to Capitol Hill to testify in opposition to this pro-hunting, pro-sportsmen legislation. It is imperative that your Senators hear from you in support of this bipartisan bill – the most important proactive piece of legislation to hunters and sportsmen in a generation.

In his testimony, Pacelle told the committee, “I want to be clear that the Humane Society of the United States is not opposed to hunting.” Really? Then how do you explain your quote from an article in the Associated Press? “If we could shut down all sport hunting in a moment, we would.”

But it’s not just sport hunting. Pacelle also said he would campaign against people hunting for food and HSUS has worked to restrict deer hunting in New York, wolf hunting in the Great Lakes region, bear hunting in Maine and all big-game hunting in California.

Senators from both sides of the aisle have worked together to craft a proposal that would protect the use of traditional ammunition made with lead components, increase access to public lands for hunters and other sportsmen, and increase flexibility for shooting ranges to build and maintain facilities to create more opportunities for everyone to enjoy the shooting sports.

Your Senators need to hear from our side so that radical, anti-hunting, anti-sportsmen activists don’t derail this legislation.

Call your Senators at 202-224-3121 or email them today and urge them to sign on as a cosponsor to S.405, the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act.

Why Am I A One Issue Voter?

I admit it. I am a one-issue voter. I will never vote for any politician that thinks making it harder for law-abiding citizens like me to get a gun or ammo will do anything to stop gun crime. And as a bonus, I usually find the candidates that oppose gun control also agree with my feelings on most other issues, too.

Gun control is one of those issues that pits individual liberties and responsibility of the individual against those that think government can solve all problems. Supporters of gun control want to pass even more laws that have no effect on people that use a gun for crime. How can any rational person, politician or anybody else, think someone willing to commit murder will be affected in any way by laws restricting the availability of guns?

Blaming the gun for crimes and trying to control access to them is like blaming the drugs for addiction and trying to control access to them. It simply does not work. If it did there would be no illegal drug use. It is also like blaming the match for arson. Guns don’t go out and shoot someone by themselves any more than a match goes out and lights a fire without someone striking it.

Some may think eliminating guns will keep criminals from getting them. If there are no legal guns, like there is no legal heroin or cocaine, they somehow think gun crime will be eliminated. Heroin and cocaine prove the illogic of that position.

Recent events in the US and Canada have drawn the usual whines for even more gun control. In Canada a terrorists used a 30-30 lever action rifle to kill a soldier and shoot up the parliament building. I just kept waiting for someone to call the rifle that has been around for over 100 years a “semiautomatic assault style weapon.”

In the US, police were attacked by a terrorists using a hatchet. Wonder if it was semiautomatic? In a school shooting a student brought a handgun to school and killed two of his classmates and shot others, The big question has been “where did he get the gun.” As Hillary would say, “What difference does it make?”

Why did he do it? Would he have done something similar, or worse, for example some kind of bomb, if he had not gotten a gun? Immediately the Brady Bunch, who used to be called Handgun Control, Inc and now renamed the Brady Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, sent out fund raising letters and emails. They want to somehow stop kids with mental problems from getting their parents guns. How? By eliminating all guns?

There are insane people in our world and there are mean, evil people, too. They will find some kind of weapon to do violence on those that abhor it. If no one had a gun, what would they use? And in the two above cases, a good guy with a gun shot and stopped the terrorists.

If guns caused problems there would be a high murder rate in deer camps, where every fall folks sit around for days within easy reach of high powered rifles, often the dreaded semiautomatic weapon type. Yet you never hear of a shooting in a deer camp.

If guns caused problems it would be unsafe to walk into a store selling guns. From Walmart to Berrys Sporting Goods, racks of guns sit calmly and don’t shoot anyone. In fact, there are a bunch of guns in my house, all loaded and ready to shoot, but they have never shot anyone.

Gun safety is important. If there were young kids in my house I would teach them to leave guns alone unless an adult was present, but I would store guns and ammo separately and lock them up. Kids will be kids and accidents will happen, but teaching safety will go a long way to preventing them.

I got my first .22 when I was eight years old, and had been shooting a BB gun for about three years before I got it. Gun safety was instilled in me from the time I was old enough to understand danger and guns were part of my life every day. All my friends had guns and from the time we were about ten years old we were allowed to hunt together, since our parents knew they had taught us well. And we never had an accident or intentionally shot another person.

Guns are inanimate objects. They have no will of their own. Only people have the ability to do harm with them. Getting rid of guns or making it difficult for careful, law-abiding folks will do nothing to stop those with a will to do harm.

Be wary of politicians supporting gun control. They don’t trust you and guns are not the only one of your liberties they want to control.

A Response to “Another View on Gulf Red Snapper Management”

In Response to “Another View on Gulf Red Snapper Management”
from The Fishing Wire

Recreational angling stakeholders recently released a joint one-pager on the potential impacts of bureaucratic decisions regarding the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. As part of that release, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (Foundation) – not the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus – issued a press release on the current proposal before the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) that looks to pit components of the recreational sector against one another. While coverage of the one-pager has been well-received, the release’s recreational angling outlook received a naïve assessment entitled “Another View on Gulf Red Snapper Management” as published in the July 24 edition of the Fishing Wire.

The author, a former representative on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, criticizes the Foundation and its partners for suggesting that the Council has not done a good job of developing real solutions to the challenges facing red snapper anglers. He states that, “In reality, the Council has been working on red snapper management alternatives for decades by implementing various management tools, such as bag and size limits, seasons, and quotas.” Unfortunately, the “reality” we’ve seen is shorter and shorter federal recreational red snapper seasons, culminating in the shortest ever: nine days in 2014. If sector separation (Amendment 40) is successful, the average recreational angler will likely see zero days in federal waters despite snapper populations that are more abundant than ever documented. How can the trend of fewer and fewer days to fish for the healthiest population of red snapper in history be considered successful management?

It is clear the author subscribes to the theory that separating the two identifiable components of the recreational sector will solve the problems for recreational anglers, especially the charter-for-hire (CFH) component. If you are a charter captain who was given only nine days to fish this year, having your own quota may seem like the silver bullet you need to make a living. Any business owner could sympathize with looking for an alternative lifeline. But one must question if it is really the salvation of the industry?

Although he states there is no comparison between the commercial sector’s catch share program and sector separation, later on he says that “each new recreational sector would be responsible for their quota.” How can a small, finite number of charter captains not be allocated some form of individual shares or quota? Although an Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) program for the CFH sector is not specifically part of Amendment 40, the 178-page amendment document makes several references where this form of catch shares would be an option for managing the new CFH sector if Amendment 40 is successful. That, combined with the current Head Boat Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) and the proposed Alabama Charter-for-Hire EFP, suggests that is exactly where this is headed – Individual charter captains holding individual shares of quota.

Charter captains need only to take a look at other sector separation and catch share programs to be concerned. In all catch share fisheries to date, over 50% of all fishery participants exited the fishery. Ultimately, if you don’t hold an initial share, you are out of luck to begin with. That’s what catch shares are designed to do … to reduce capacity by getting boats off the water. There will be winners, yes. But there will be losers as well. More losers than winners. Is it worth the gamble? Just ask an Alaskan charter boat captain how sector separation in the halibut fishery has worked for them.

The author points out that since the commercial sector’s individual fishing quota went into effect, that sector has not exceeded their quota once, while the recreational sector has exceeded their quota most every year. This is the same argument used by the commercial sector to emphasize how great the commercial IFQ program is while labeling the recreational sector “unaccountable.” Despite what the commercial industry and environmental groups proclaim, recreational anglers (both private and CFH components) have been accountable and abide by the law and the regulations. It is the federal system of fisheries management that has been “unaccountable” and has failed the recreational fishing public as a whole.

Finally the editorial states that, “Currently, there are two distinct components of the recreational fishing sector…” According to section 407(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which deals specifically with red snapper, there is just one. Private recreational anglers and CFH are distinctly treated as a single component and rightly so. One has the means of accessing red snapper on their own, whether they own a boat or know folks who do, while the other provides a service for the rest of the American public who does not. The recreational sector of the red snapper fishery is intended for any American to be able to go to the Gulf of Mexico and catch red snapper if they so choose. All other successfully managed Gulf recreational fisheries have the same two components of the recreational sector, yet they are successfully managed as one. Why do we need to split the two for Gulf red snapper to provide relief for a minority of the CFH captains?

In short – we don’t. The Council needs to get serious about managing the fishery as a whole. Trying to apply that same commercial model to the recreational sector has proven unsuccessful. Holistic management will require some controversial, but appropriate, choices like that of true re-examination of allocations, not just above 9.12 million pounds. The current quota of 49% recreational/51% commercial has not been updated in nearly three decades and was established at a time when recreational angling for red snapper was at an all-time low using survey methodologies that have since been replaced because of gross inaccuracies. That, in and of itself, begs for a new look at where we are today. Red snapper, and all our marine fisheries resources, belong to us all. Good government mandates that we make the best use of our public trust resources for the benefit of the nation as a whole.

We need to take a hard look at how the states would manage red snapper. The states have successfully managed recreational fisheries for a century, but not based on how the Council or NOAA fumbles with fisheries management. States have been successful because they manage on a rate of harvest and not by trying to squeeze every pound out of the fishery as does federal fisheries management with its concept of maximum sustainable yield. The Council needs to implement alternative, harvest-based management of the fisheries, or simply give it to the states which have more experience and better data.

Red snapper can be managed to benefit both recreational and commercial fishermen. However, sector separation will only ensure that there are a few winners and a bunch of losers. Sector separation is not the answer.

Mike Nussman
American Sportfishing Association

Jeff Crane
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation

Pat Murray
Coastal Conservation Association

Steve Stock
Guy Harvey Foundation

Jeff Angers
Center for Coastal Conservation

Thom Dammrich
National Marine Manufacturers Association

Another View on Gulf Red Snapper Management

Red Snapper Catch

Red Snapper Catch

From William Teehan, Another View on Gulf Red Snapper Management

Here’s an alternate take on the current haggling over red snapper management in the Gulf of Mexico. We may not necessarily agree with it, but Bill Teehan has been around fishery management a long time and has a lot of useful knowledge on the topic-here are his thoughts:

By William Teehan
from The Fishing Wire

As a retired Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission marine fisheries manager who represented the agency at Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meetings, a July 15, 2014, Congressional Sportsman s Caucus press release published in The Fishing Wire entitled re e Congressional Sportsman Commission marine fisheries manager who represented the agency at Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meetings, I’ve built up a lot of information about this issue, how it came about and why the Council is considering it. Frankly, I found the press release and its additional signatories the American Sportfishing Association, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, the Center for Coastal Conservation, the International Game Fish Association, the Coastal Conservation Association, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, and the Congressional Sportsman’s Foundation misleading. I would like to take this opportunity to debunk a few of the statements made in the press release.

Currently, there are two very distinct components to the recreational fishing sector, but the Caucus and its press release signatories do not want to recognize the differences. The recreational sector is comprised of anglers that hire federally permitted vessels to access the fishery and anglers that own private vessels and do not rely upon the for-hire fleet to go fishing. Under current management, these two distinct recreational angler groups share one red snapper quota.

The Caucus issue is with the Councils proposed Reef Fish Amendment 40, which will separate these two distinct fishing groups into their own sectors within the recreational red snapper fishery. Short story: Amendment 40 proposes looking at the catch histories of these two distinct components and making them their own sectors on equal footing with each other based upon their historical catches.

The Caucus states that Amendment 40 will divide the recreational quota e two distinct components and making them their own sfor-hire sectors. The Caucus is misleading this as the Council preferred alternative. In reality, the Council is considering establishing the private angler share as 54.1% and the for-hire share as 45.9% of the recreational quota. These allotments are based on average landings histories between 1996 through 2013. The Council has also requested new alternatives based upon different landings. All catch history alternatives exclude 2010 landings because of the broad closures resulting from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. To see the full suite of allocation alternatives please see Council’s Sector Separation video.

The Caucus lays the blame for the red snapper situation squarely at the feet of the Council, going so far as to say that the Council is not working “to develop real solutions to the challenges facing the recreational red snapper management.a In reality, the Council has been working on red snapper management alternatives for decades by implementing various management tools such as bag and size limits, seasons, and quotas. The concept of separating the recreational sector components first arose in late 2008 when federal fishery managers, of which I was one, were required by the 2007 Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization to get serious about ending overfishing in marine waters.

Before the 2007 Magnuson-Stevens Acterfisauthorization, the red snapper fishery was severely overfished and substantial cuts were made to both commercial and recreational sector quotas to begin rebuilding the depleted stock. The commercial sector even adopted an individual fishing quota management tool to keep their fishermen on the water while protecting the red snapper resource. Since 2007, the commercial sector has not exceeded their quota once, while the recreational sector has gone over theirs every year, excepting 2010.

The Caucus attempts to compare sector separation to the individual fishing quota program presently used in the commercial sector. In reality, there is no comparison between the two sectors. The commercial quota program allots individual fishermen a share of the fishery based upon landings history; whereas, sector separation would split the overall recreational quota between private anglers and the for-hire sectors based upon landings histories of the sectors, not individual anglers. Each new recreational sector would be responsible for their quota, which will allow managers the flexibility the Caucus and its signatories ask for and allow the new sectors to use their quota as their fishery dictates.

The Caucus press release also suggests that sector separation will expand to other fisheries. But sector separation is only one type of management tool. In the case of Amendment 40, it is being discussed for the Gulf recreational red snapper fishery only. There are no plans to apply this tool to other fisheries at this time; however, it is available to use on as a species or a complex basis.

Finally, the Caucus press release would make you believe that sector separation is a done deal. It points the reader to the next two full Council meetings in August and October as the ock. hallenges frn the tide.r The reality is that the Council will be conducting public hearings in all of the Gulf States during early August to gather public testimony on a draft document, including suggestions for management alternatives. The Council will also be taking written comments on Amendment 40. Dates, times and locations for those hearings can be found here.