Will the Trump Administration Stand Up for the Fish?

Photo by John McMurray

Photo by John McMurray

As fishermen, we need to advocate and stand up for the fish. Because if we do not, no one else will, and there will be no fish in the sea to catch for commercial or recreational fishers.

On Wednesday, November 9th, the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) issued a press release asking President-Elect Trump to make changes that liberalize the Magnuson-Stevens Act (the fishing law of this nation) so it benefits the RFA’s members or “sector” as the press release states. The Recreational Fishing Alliance press release said the Alliance is comprised of fishing industry representatives as well as recreational fishermen.

The release stated, “The days of the environmental zealots running the show are, for the most part, over… So, we’re excited about this new direction, and look forward to some positive changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act that will benefit our sector, along with a new attitude towards fishery management.”

In the past couple of weeks I’ve heard from thirty fishermen, many of them leaders in the fishing community on how we need to keep the MSA strong… the way it is, so it continues to rebuild fish stocks around this nation (over 40 fish species stocks have been rebuilt under the act). They said it is important to get this message to the Trump administration, as what is good for the fish is good for the economy.

The RFA said they want “changes to MSA (fishing laws) that benefit their sector.” They do not say they want fishing laws that benefit the fish. When fishing laws are written to benefit interest or user groups rather than the fish… the fish suffer, stocks can become overfished to a point where they cannot be rebuilt and can disappear forever.

Strong fishing laws make good economic sense. They grow fish to abundance at the highest possible sustainable levels so there are more fish in the water for all of us recreational and commercial fishers.

Both the commercial and recreational fishing industries have hit a high under a strong MSA. The fishing industry continues to rise for all.In a 2014 report, NOAA said that in 2012 recreational and commercial fishing had an annual economic impact of $199 billion, which was up 7% from 2011. Fishermen throughout the nation are landing fish. For example, many of the species being caught recreationally in the northeast, such as scup, striped bass, tautog, summer flounder and black sea bass have been rebuilt to sustainable levels and, in some cases to abundance, thanks to a strong MSA. Yes, fish biomass goes up and down; however, the difference is we have fisheries management plans in place under the MSA that allow us to manage the fish in an effective, sustainable way.

The Trump administration should not take the bait. Strong fishing laws will create more fish for all (as it has been proven) and will act as a strong economic engine for commercial and recreational fishing. So the hope is that the Trump administration will stand up for the fish and continue to have a strong MSA because it is good for the fish… and good for the economy.

About Dave Monti

Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing for over 40 years. He holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. He is a vice president of the RI Saltwater Anglers Association, an active member of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association and a member of the RI Marine Fisheries Council.

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