Opinion: Saltwater Anglers have waited 42 years to be recognized in federal law

As Congress returns from the campaign trail, there is a major effort underway to pass comprehensive legislation before the 115th Congress adjourns that addresses the most pressing needs on America’s public lands and waterways. While any legislative vehicle is likely to include a variety of measures important to America’s millions of sportsmen and women, it is critical that this package fix a problem decades in the making: outdated management of America’s federal fisheries.

Each year, 11 million Americans travel to our nation’s coasts to take part in one of America’s favorite pastimes – recreational fishing. These saltwater anglers annually support 440,000 American jobs, including thousands of manufacturing and supply jobs in non-coastal states, and pump $63.4 billion into the U.S. economy. Yet, angling in federal waters has been managed by an antiquated federal system that never considered the needs of the recreational fishing sector and never anticipated its growth.

Because federal law has never considered the fundamental differences between recreational and commercial fishing practices, federal fisheries management problems facing anglers have been snowballing for decades. Those problems are impediments to participation in sportfishing. How can we engage the next generation of anglers when the federal rules unnecessarily stand in the way? Read full article . . .