August Policy Watch From the ASA

A look at some of the stories and actions for the month of August that effect the interest of the sportfishing and boating industries.

Fishing and Boating Community Comments on Proposed Right Whale Regulations

ASA joined a coalition of fishing and boating organizations in submitting comments to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) regarding proposed North Atlantic Right Whale vessel speed regulations. The proposal would create a massive speed restriction zone from Massachusetts to north Florida for all vessels 35’ or greater for approximately half the year. ASA is concerned about the significant impact this will have on fishing and boating, the rushed timeline and lack of engagement in developing the regulations. The comment letter urges NMFS not to proceed with this rule until additional analysis can be conducted and potential new alternatives developed. Read the full letter here.

South Atlantic Council Considering Bottom Fishing Closures 

Despite a record abundance of South Atlantic red snapper, NOAA Fisheries has informed the South Atlantic Council that bottom fishing closures, in which fishing for 55 species of snapper and grouper would be prohibited, are necessary to reduce releases of red snapper. Large area and/or seasonal closures to all bottom fishing would be devastating to the recreational fishing industry and offshore anglers from North Carolina to Florida. Before this drastic step is taken, the Council should wait for the results of the South Atlantic Great Red Snapper Count. By incorporating this data into the next stock assessment, the Council will have more information to make a better management decision. Speak out against this hasty proposal by submitting comments here.

Comments Submitted on Hudson Canyon National Marine Sanctuary

ASA and our sportfishing and boating community partners submitted comments expressing preliminary support for the proposed Hudson Canyon marine sanctuary designation. Hudson Canyon is about 100 miles off the coast of New York and New Jersey and is extremely popular for offshore anglers in the region who pursue tuna, billfish, tilefish, mahi mahi and other sport fish. Support for the designation hinges on confirmed recreational fishing access within the sanctuary’s boundaries; opportunities for recreational fishing participation in management; and inclusion of recreational fishing for research purposes. View the comment letter here.

Omega Protein’s Outsized Impact on the Chesapeake Bay  

ASA’s Vice President of Government Affairs, Mike Leonard and Executive Director of Coastal Conservation Association Maryland, David Sikorski wrote about Omega Protein’s devastating impact on the Chesapeake Bay fishery for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The Canadian-owned, industrial menhaden harvester, Omega Protein, is responsible for net spills and bycatch of recreational species, like red drum. It is up to leadership in Richmond and fisheries managers to address this ongoing problem. Read the full article here.

AIS Commission Meets at 2022 Kenai Classic 

The annual Kenai Classic Roundtable included a discussion on the damage caused by aquatic invasive species. The Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Blue Ribbon Commission shared concerns and sought input on solutions from an audience of key officials including U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Governor Mike Dunleavy and Dr. Richard Spinrad, NOAA Administrator. The AIS Blue Ribbon Commission was established by leading companies and organizations in the recreational boating and fishing industry to develop policy solutions to stop and reverse the spread of AIS throughout the United States. The meeting at Kenai and others will help the commission form a series of policy reforms that can mitigate invasive species and prevent their spread throughout waterbodies.

Report Offers Snapshot of Perspectives on the Future of Aquaculture 

In spring 2022, Meridian Institute and Ocean Strategies brought together 43 diverse ocean stakeholders for a workshop about the future of marine aquaculture. In advance of the workshop, Meridian Institute sought guidance from sectoral leaders, including ASA’s Vice President of Government Affairs, Mike Leonard, to craft workshop components. Meridian Institute released a report on the workshop that provides a snapshot of stakeholder perspectives on aquaculture and opportunities for collaborative solution building. View the full report here.

ASA Submits Comments on Impacts of Offshore Wind Energy Development  

ASA provided comments on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) guidelines for mitigating impacts to commercial and recreational fisheries. ASA encourages BOEM to regularly update guidelines to reflect the unknowns in the expanding industry. Other comments addressed concerns about language consistency, environmental monitoring and financial compensation to address losses to recreational fisheries from offshore wind energy projects. View the comments here.

Together Outdoors Coalition Celebrates One-Year

Together Outdoors (TO) brings together the outdoor recreation community to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. Over the past year TO has worked to educate coalition members on the history of exclusionary practices in the outdoors and the challenges that remain for members of under-represented groups. Reflecting on the past year, Mike Leonard, Vice President of Government Affairs at ASA, said:

“The Together Outdoors Coalition has helped inform the American Sportfishing Association’s (ASA) work engaging new and potential anglers. ASA is committed to making recreational fishing welcoming for all and will continue to advance this work as a member of TO. Thanks to coalition lead, Gerry James, and the TO partners across the outdoor community for creating this space.

Stay Updated with The Sportfishing Advocate Blog 

ASA’s number one role is advocating for the business interests of the sportfishing industry. ASA’s blog – The Sportfishing Advocate –explains in layman’s terms the often-complicated mechanisms behind legislative and regulatory policy decisions. Recent blogs address Gulf red snapper; efforts to combat aquatic invasive species; and an update from the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to keep up to date on the blog posts and other ASA information.

Catch Up on The Politics of Fish Podcast 

ASA’s podcast, The Politics of Fish, explores the complexities of the legislative and regulatory issues affecting sportfishing. New episodes include the latest trends in fishing participation with Dave Chanda, President and CEO of the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation; unpacking Atlantic menhaden challenges with Chris Moore of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation; and talking about the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP) with Ed Schriever, NFHP Board Chair and Executive Director of Idaho Department of Fish & Game. New episodes are released biweekly, so stay tuned! Our archive of episodes is always available here.

If there is an issue that you are concerned about or would like to discuss, please contact Mike Leonard by email or at (703) 519-9691 x 230.


The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry’s trade association committed to representing the interests of the sportfishing and boating industries as well as the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry and anglers a unified voice when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. ASA invests in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous, as well as safeguard and promote the enduring economic, conservation and social values of sportfishing in America. ASA also gives America’s 55 million anglers a voice in policy decisions that affect their ability to sustainably fish on our nation’s waterways through Keep America Fishing, our national angler advocacy campaign. America’s anglers generate nearly $50 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating employment for 800,000 people.