ASA Commends NOAA Fisheries on Rejecting Petition to Establish Vessel Speed Restrictions in the Gulf of Mexico
The recreational fishing and boating community is applauding the decision by NOAA Fisheries to deny a petition to establish a year-round 10-knot (11 mph) vessel speed limit and other vessel-related measures in the Rice’s whale “core” habitat area in the Gulf of Mexico.
The public forcefully responded to the petition, and NOAA received approximately 75,500 public comments – many of which came from impacted anglers and boaters in the region.
MAPWaters Act Introduced in U.S. Senate
Anglers who fish federal waterways are often frustrated by the tangled web of ever-changing regulations. For example, specific restrictions on fishing and boating in National Wildlife Refuges are scattered across dozens of pages of the Code of Federal Regulations.
Fortunately, a bill called the MAPWaters Act was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate that could help provide clarity for boaters and anglers.
Officially designated S. 3123, the new bill will make federal regulations far more accessible and be able to be integrated into your chartplotter, fish finder or navigation app. The legislation will also direct agencies to digitize the locations of boat ramps and access points making it easier to access new fishing spots.
Sportfishing Community Disappointed with USFWS Rule on Lead Tackle
On October 27, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced they are moving ahead with a ban on lead fishing tackle in seven National Wildlife Refuges (NWR). Effective September 1, 2026, Blackwater, Eastern Neck, Erie, Great Thicket, Patuxent Research Refuge, Rachel Carson, and Wallops Island NWRs would require the use of non-lead fishing tackle.
In a letter to the USFWS, ASA provided detailed comments in which we strongly opposed this baseless requirement.
ASA Champions Recreational Fishing Access in two Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
This month, the ASA team took the opportunity to advocate for recreational fishing in two marine protected areas.
The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument was the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean and is an important offshore recreational fishing area. ASA submitted comments in response to a new draft management plan. In the Pacific Ocean, ASA commented on the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary which stretches along 134 miles of coastline off central California and would encompass more than 5,600 square miles of water.
In both cases, ASA reinforced the importance of allowing recreational fishing and pledged to work to ensure healthy fisheries and continued access.
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.