Scott Deal said it best. In an open letter to The Hill, the Maverick Boats president put the divide between commercial and recreational fishing in plain sight:
“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.”
Deal would know. In 2013, he co-chaired a commission—along with Bass Pro Shops CEO Johnny Morris—to help guide federal policy on the most pressing recreational fishing management issues. That commission included biologists, economists, conservationists, fisheries managers, and policy makers. The ensuing findings were presented to federal lawmakers in 2014; but Deal says recreational anglers, including 11 million in the saltwater segment alone, are still being tossed into the bait bucket with their commercial counterparts, “like a round peg in a square hole.”
Now, as the 2018 mid-term election cycle draws to a close, lawmakers will have an opportunity to fix that.
This summer, a bi-partisan bill called the Modern Fish Act was shoe-horned through the House of Representatives, Deal says, on the back of hundreds of thousands of emails and calls. Now, its final obstacle lies in the Senate. Sponsored by Democrat and Republican senators, the Modern Fish Act is a rare opportunity for Americans on both sides of the aisle to speak in unison while growing the sport of fishing.
“Tired of the status quo and inaction at the federal level, America’s recreational anglers again called for change at the start of this Congress and threw their support behind the Modern Fish Act (Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017), which offers commonsense solutions and management tools that would bring federal fisheries management into the 21st century and fit the nature of recreational fishing. If passed, the effects of this landmark legislation will be monumental: better overall management of America’s fisheries through the availability of new data collection methods; additional management tools designed for recreational fishing; improved access for America’s anglers; and in turn, enhanced conservation funding.”
In a real way, the future of fishing depends on it.