Can you believe May is here already?
Have you had a chance to go fishing yet?
At Keep America Fishing, we’ve been busy working towards opening the door to more and better fishing for each and every American angler. Whether the issue is conservation, regulations, or access, count on us to keep you informed about the issues that affect you.
To stay up to date on the latest news, stories, and record-breaking catches, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Soft Plastic Baits – Fact vs. Fiction
Everyone loves to fish with soft plastic baits. So why have they become controversial? In this article, we’ll separate the fact and fiction.
Soft plastic baits are incredibly effective for catching fish.
FACT – Most anglers’ tackle boxes are full of soft plastics. They are available in a multitude of colors and can be presented in a large number of ways. Also, their low cost allows you to keep a variety on hand to match the conditions and forage species.
Soft plastics are good for beginners.
FACT – Inexpensive and easy to use, soft plastics are a great starting point for any angler. And as experience grows, new techniques and presentations can be added to their bag of tricks.
Live baits are more popular than soft plastic lures.
FICTION – 57% of all baits used are soft plastics.
States have proposed banning these popular lures.
FACT – Because used lures are ending up as litter in fishing areas, members of the Maine legislature proposed banning them in 2013.
Old and damaged lures should be recycled or thrown in the trash.
FACT – Recycling is getting more and more popular but if your area doesn’t offer it, pitch them in the trash.
Tournament anglers don’t care about this issue.
FICTION – Tournament anglers are some of the leading voices in the anti-litter movement. In fact, both B.A.S.S. and FLW have programs to collect used soft plastics.
I already practice proper disposal so there’s nothing else I can do.
FICTION – Join with thousands of other American anglers by going to PledgeToPitchIt.org and signing the pledge today.
Red Snapper and the Modern Fish Act
For years, frustration with federal management of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico has been increasing. For many, when NOAA announced a federal red snapper season of just three days, it was the last straw.
Out-of-date data, flawed methodologies for counting fish, and a massive disconnect between the Gulf states and NOAA have all led to the current situation.
Even NOAA acknowledges the fish are there. According to their numbers, anglers are catching red snapper at two and a half times the rate they did in 2007. Also, the average weight of harvested red snapper has more than doubled from 3.3 pounds in 2007 to 7.25 pounds in 2016.
According to Chris Macaluso of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, “It’s just another in a long line of examples of how dysfunctional recreational-fishing management is on the federal level. The Gulf states have found a better way. They’ve developed better technologies. They’re getting a better handle on who’s fishing and when and what they’re catching. It’s time for NOAA to catch up.”
Fortunately, a bill called the Modern Fish Act is working its way through Congress. Officially known as the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act, it can help NOAA “catch up” in three ways:
1. Improve angler harvest data – It would require federal managers to explore other data sources that have tremendous potential to improve the accuracy and timeliness of harvest estimates, such as state-driven programs and electronic reporting (e.g., through smartphone apps).
2. Require reviews of who gets the fish – It would require fisheries managers to finally provide a long-overdue review of how fishing quotas for individual species are divided between the recreational and commercial sectors. Rather than being based on decades-old decisions, the Modern Fish Act would establish clear, objective criteria upon which these decisions could be based, and require periodic review to ensure these allocations are working.
3. Recognize the importance recreational fishing – Even though recreational and commercial fishing are fundamentally different, they are basically managed the same way at the federal level. The Modern Fish Act will authorize NOAA to use management strategies that have been successful at the state level.
Improve data, review decisions, and fix things that aren’t working – sounds like common sense to me.
The RFS is Broken. Let’s fix it.
Over the last six months, ethanol has been a hot topic in the halls of Congress. If you own a boat, use any gasoline-powered outdoor equipment like a lawnmower, or operate any other small engines like an ATV or motorcycle, this is an issue that affects you.
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is a federal program that mandates the blending of a certain amount of renewable fuels, including ethanol, into our gasoline. The RFS was created in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 in an attempt to make the US more energy-independent. A major assumption of the RFS was that US gasoline consumption would continue to rise.
That hasn’t happened.
In fact, changing driving habits, more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, and other factors have actually led to a decrease. However, the RFS still operates under this assumption made back in 2005 and the program does not allow for the flexibility to take into account how Americans actually consume gasoline. In order to meet the hardline mandate of 36 billion gallons of ethanol blended into our fuel supply, the EPA determined that we would have to increase the concentration of ethanol in gasoline across the US to 15% – known as E15. E-15 is well known to be an unsafe fuel for boat engines, small engines, and even older cars. In fact, E-15 is so unsafe to these engines that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prohibits the use of ethanol blends higher than E-10 in recreational boats.
Do you know what you’re putting in your small engines?
As the US increases the concentration of ethanol in its gasoline to try and meet these out-dated standards, the chances of a boater putting the wrong type of fuel in their boat increases. Most boaters gas up their boats at gas stations and E15 is already available at gas stations in 28 states. Even if you do choose the correct fuel type for your boat, did you know that up to 4 gallons of gas can be held in the tubes and pipes at the pump? If your local gas station is one that offers E15 at the same pump as E10, you could be getting a few gallons of E15 in your engine before your selected fuel. That may not be a big deal for your boat, but how about your jet ski? There is only a sticker warning on the pump to tell you if the fuel is E15, so you’ve got to pay attention. Since the RFS as it is now forces E-15 into the marketplace at increasing levels to meet the mandates, the chance of misfueling at your local gas station is increasing.
On May 3, a coalition of sportfishing and recreational boating groups submitted a letter to President Trump urging him to fix America’s broken ethanol policy. The head of the EPA and Members of Congress who serve on key committees were also sent the letter.
The letter asked for common sense reforms such as ensuring that any future ethanol volumes do not exceed 9.7 percent of the nation’s total fuel supply; protecting true consumer choice at the pump by not artificially decreasing the supply of ethanol-free gasoline; and implementing new and more effective protections against misfueling that will educate and protect all consumers.
Included with the letter was a petition signed by more than 26,000 citizens from across the country. The petition illustrates the widespread support for reforming the RFS among the boating and fishing community.
We haven’t heard back from the President yet, but we have a meeting scheduled with EPA officials to discuss our concerns with E15 and the RFS. You can be sure this is going to continue to be a hot issue throughout 2017, so check the Keep America Fishing website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates.
Governor Rick Scott Signs Lake Okeechobee Water Resources Legislation Into Law
Keep Florida Fishing Praises Governor for Support of Increased Funding for Everglades Restoration
(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) – Florida Governor Rick Scott today signed Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 10 into law. The legislation, a top priority of Senate President Joe Negron (R-Stuart), will provide additional funding and accelerate the timeline to establish a water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee with the goal of reducing harmful releases to coastal estuaries.
“With today’s signing of Senate Bill 10, Governor Scott has shown his strong commitment to advancing Everglades restoration,” said Kellie Ralston, Florida Fishery Policy Director of the American Sportfishing Association.
“Thank you to Governor Rick Scott, Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran for their leadership in preserving and protecting Florida’s natural resources,” said Gary Jennings, Director of Keep Florida Fishing. “This will ensure that Florida remains the ‘Fishing Capital of the World’ for generations to come.”
Keep Florida Fishing also praised House and Senate sponsors as CS/SB 10 passed the Florida House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 2, 2017.
“We are grateful for House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Rep. Matt Caldwell, Rep. Holly Raschein, Senate President Joe Negron, Sen. Rob Bradley, Sen. Jack Latvala and the entire Florida Legislature for their support of Everglades restoration projects and funding. This much-needed focus on our state’s natural resources will provide for the implementation of comprehensive solutions that will have the greatest and most immediate impact on the Everglades, Florida Bay and our south Florida estuaries,” said Ralston.
Keep Florida Fishing represents the interests of the recreational fishing community. Florida has more than 3 million anglers who generate $9.6 billion in economic impact, support more than 128,000 jobs and contribute $53.3 million to Florida conservation efforts through license fees and special taxes on motor boat fuel and equipment.
About Keep Florida Fishing
Keep Florida Fishing is an advocacy arm of the American Sportfishing Association with the goal of ensuring Florida anglers have clean waters, abundant fisheries and access to both. Learn more at www.KeepFloridaFishing.org. Find Keep Florida Fishing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Snapper Fishing Takes a Hit With Super-Short Season
By David A. Brown
Usually, setting a record in the fishing world is a good thing; a bragging rights moment that makes people happy in a high-5 sort of way. Sadly, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) gets no such love from private recreational anglers – the folks royally screwed by the shortest ever federal red snapper season, which runs from – don’t blink – June 1 through June 3.
Four thousand, 300 and 20 minutes.
We’ll spare you the seconds count, because you’re probably feeling the deeply intended sarcasm.
To frame this, the total recreational sector comprises private individuals and for-hire vessels (charter boats). The latter group gets a 49-day season (June 1 through July 19). The commercial sector – a highly contentious topic we’ll save for later – operates on “catch shares”; essentially, the privatization of a public resource.
Crazy thing is that most who fish the Gulf – and actually see what’s out there – believe there’s more than enough snapper to justify longer recreational seasons. Increasingly tighter harvest restrictions of shorter seasons and the two-fish per person daily bag limit (minimum 16 inches) have, no doubt, eased the pressure since the species was declared overfished in the late 1980s.
Nevertheless, the feds state that 2016 saw the total recreational quota exceeded by 129,906 pounds, with the private angling component exceeding its 57.7 percent share of the recreational pie. Adjusting for these 2016 overages lead to the abbreviated private recreational season.
Notably, Gulf states allow longer red snapper seasons (67-365 days) within their boundaries, which extend out 9 nautical miles from land; however, catches in state and federal waters are counted against the total recreational quota. According to NOAA, private anglers are expected to harvest nearly 81 percent of the private angling quota during these state seasons.
With the federal management of Gulf red snapper mired in claims of flawed data collection and questionable science, public outrage has smoldered for several years. Many recreational anglers believe that individual states can do a better job of managing red snapper in federal waters out to 200 nautical miles.
That picture remains uncertain, but citizens can voice their opinions regarding the current state of management through an automated system set up through Keep America Fishing (a branch of the American Sportfishing Association). The system presents a standardized letter to legislators in support of a recently introduced bill that addresses many of the most critical challenges facing saltwater recreational anglers in federal waters.
On April 6, Representatives Garret Graves (R-La.), Gene Green (D-Tex.), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.) introduced H.R. 2023, the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017. Known as the Modern Fish Act, this bill provides federal fisheries managers with a comprehensive package of tools and data to better manage America’s 11 million saltwater anglers. The goal: Replacing antiquated management processes with a more accurate picture of today’s recreational fishery and fishermen.
Florida Senators Call For Federal Government To Extend Red Snapper Season
(WKRG) — Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) have called on the federal government to extend the 2017 Gulf of Mexico red snapper season for recreational fishermen.
In a letter sent to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today, the lawmakers cite concerns newly shortened season will have on coastal economies and industries dependent on access to the fishery. They also raised concerns on how this could impact fishermen’s safety.
“In years past, we have raised concern that setting a rigid fishing season of consecutive days may put anglers in harm’s way due to Florida’s unpredictable and infrequent summer storm,” the letter reads.
“We continue to believe that allowing more flexibility in the season to accommodate dangerous weather would help fishermen avoid dangerous situations.”
On Tuesday, the NOAA announced the 2017 season will be nearly a week less than last year’s, limiting recreational fishermen to just three days and 49 days for charter fishermen.
If the season continues as is, it will open for recreational anglers on June 1 and run until June 3. The charter-for-hire season will open the same day (June 1) and remain open for 49 days.
More Than 100 Outdoor Recreation Executives Sign Letter Urging the Administration to Keep the “Great” in the Great Outdoors
Alexandria, VA – May 3, 2017 – In an open letter published in the Wall Street Journal, executives from more than 100 outdoor recreation industry companies praised the agenda being set by Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke during the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency. These leading executives represent many segments of the $887 billion outdoor recreation industry including the fishing, shooting sports, hunting, archery, camping, marine, motorcycle, powersports, hospitality and recreation vehicle sectors.
In the letter, the industry shares its excitement to work with Secretary Zinke, a strong supporter of outdoor recreation. Since his confirmation, Secretary Zinke has been working closely with the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable (ORIR) to increase access to recreational opportunities and enjoyment on all federal lands and waters. In addition to increasing access, ORIR is working with the Administration to establish public-private partnerships as an entrepreneurial mechanism for addressing part of the $20 billion in deferred maintenance and to achieve a better balance in decisions involving recreation and conservation.
“Secretary Zinke understands that not only is outdoor recreation an important part of our American heritage, it is also a powerful job creator, particularly in many of our nation’s rural areas,” said American Sportfishing Association President and CEO Mike Nussman. “Improving and expanding access to our public lands will invite our increasingly diverse population to enjoy our great outdoors and help our economy at the same time.”
“As the overwhelming support of this letter shows, the outdoor recreation industry is motivated to work with the Administration, and in particular Secretary Zinke,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). “Secretary Zinke understands the power of the outdoor recreation industry economy and the importance of expanding access to allow all Americans to enjoy the nation’s iconic public lands.”
Many in the outdoor recreation industry are encouraged by the president’s willingness to tackle America’s long-term infrastructure challenges and his promise of a trillion dollar infrastructure initiative that will increase access to the nation’s recreation lands through better bridges, roads, waterways, and restored infrastructure within our nation’s parks.
OUTDOOR RECREATION INDUSTRY ROUNDTABLE – is a coalition of America’s leading outdoor recreation trade associations working to promote the policy and legislative reforms needed to grow the outdoor recreation economy. Roundtable members represent the thousands of U.S. businesses that produce vehicles, equipment, gear, apparel and services for the millions of Americans who enjoy our nation’s parks, waterways, byways, trails and outdoor spaces. Combined, the various business sectors within the outdoor recreation industry generate $646 billion-per-year in economic activity and provide an estimated 6.1 million direct jobs. Coalition members produce the eight largest recreation tradeshows in the U.S. and their members annually contribute $40 billion in federal excise tax, sales tax and duties.
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