Guy Harvey Magazine

WIN-SPR 2018

Guy Harvey Magazine is focused on fishing, boating, scuba diving, and marine conservation. Portfolios from the world's best fishing photographers, articles on gear, travel, tournaments, apparel, lifestyle, seafood recipes, sustainable fisheries.

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Page 60 of 83 | 61 But the relationship between state agencies and the recreational fishing community is far from just a dollars and cents transaction. Agencies, in both the fresh and saltwater areas they manage, see anglers as part of the conservation solution. They solicit public input on management decisions and work with their communities to ensure anglers are satisfied with their experiences on the water. Similar close connections exist with many of the federal land management agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service. These agencies welcome millions of visitors every year onto the public lands they are the stewards of, many of whom are casting a line. Do we have occasional disagreements over management decisions? Sure. But in general, these agencies view recreational anglers as contributors to their conservation agenda, even though their federal budgets are not fueled by direct funding from in-state fishing expenditures. The third management system recreational anglers contend with is when they cross that invisible line from state to federally managed marine fisheries, which, for most parts of the country, extend from three to 200 miles offshore. However, in the Gulf of Mexico, all five states—Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas—have pushed state waters out to nine miles. The federal waters are managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under the auspices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Other familiar NOAA programs are the National Weather Service, the Satellite and Information Service, and the Marine Sanctuaries division. They're also the folks who create and continuously update your marine maps, which get loaded into your navigation systems. (If you ever get lost, don't blame them.) A consistent and unique challenge for NMFS has been balancing fisheries used for both recreational and commercial purposes. The state boundaries were set to three miles offshore with the establishment of the Submerged Lands Act of 1953. Further, the 1976 Fishery Conservation and Management Act established federal waters from where state boundaries end out to 200 miles offshore, protecting U.S. waters from extreme harvest by foreign commercial fishing fleets. Two decades later, because many marine stocks were still declining, the law was amended with provisions to end overfishing by our own commercial industry. This became the 1996 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). Once again, a turning point in the marine management strategy that was mandated by the federal government and has had lasting benefits. The first time the federal government started paying attention to commercial activity in our oceans was in 1871, when President Ulysses S. Grant established the U.S. Fish Commission. For the first time, they were to report to and advise Congress on what harvest activities were taking place and if protection of the resource was needed. Through the years, with the continued morphing of the agency, the focus remained on commercial activity. Up through the 1970s, it was even called the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries. Many anglers today still hold the perception that the NMFS only understands and cares about commercial fishing, and a new authorization of MSA would help address the challenges of a constrained management approach (see article on page 62). Access to outdoor recreational activity is a priority to many Americans, and fishing access is no exception. Advances in technology in gear and transportation extend the possibilities for where we can fish and how often. We can make a day- trip out of going to The Bahamas from Miami and back. Whether you stay in state waters or go those extra few miles, knowing who is managing your day on the water and what their priorities are is key to making recreational anglers partners in the decision-making process. Just don't be on the lookout for any welcome billboards posted in the middle of the ocean any time soon. Liz Ogilvie is the Chief Marketing Officer for the American Sportfishing Association.

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