ALEXANDRIA, Virginia— Today, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation expanding the existing Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument to six times its current size, creating the largest marine reserve in the world. Although the proclamation bans commercial fishing, deep-sea mining and other commercial extraction methods, recreational fishing will be allowed.
“Going back to his first campaign, the President has said that his agenda regarding access to public lands is going to be one that ensures the outdoors is available to the next generation,” said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman. “Acknowledging that recreational fishing is a sustainable use of a public resource, especially in one as pristine and special as this area of the Pacific, is a distinction for which the recreational fishing community has been advocating for many years. We thank the administration for making the distinction between a recreational activity that millions of Americans enjoy each day and commercial fishing.”
The expanded monument will continue to be managed by the Departments of the Interior and Commerce through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration respectively. According to the administration, the agencies will develop management plans for the area pursuant to their respective authorities under the Antiquities Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery and Conservation Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) and other relevant authorities to ensure proper care and management of the Monument.
Nussman further said, “By permitting recreational fishing, the administration recognizes that it is a compatible and sustainable activity and ensures that recreational fishing will continue to be managed as such. Recreational fishing in freshwater has long been embraced by natural resource managers as an appropriate use of this public resource. I’m pleased that the administration is bringing the same understanding to our nation’s saltwater resources.”
In February, the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, chaired by Bass Pro Shops founder and President John Morris and Maverick Boats President Scott Deal, introduced a report that calls on the administration to make significant changes to how saltwater fisheries are managed. A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries outlines the nation’s most important recreational fisheries management issues and is intended to help guide federal marine policy decisions.
“One of the key recommendations endorsed by the commission is establishing a national policy for saltwater recreational fishing,” noted Nussman. “Acknowledging that recreational fishing is a sustainable activity in the world’s largest marine reserve is an important step in achieving this goal.”
Earlier this month, more than 200 leaders in the recreational fishing and boating industries signed onto a letter asking Senate and House members to support key policy changes to saltwater recreational fisheries management in the upcoming Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization.