Weekly Policy Watch Updates From The ASA

Your weekly look at how ASA’s government affairs team is hard at work supporting sound fisheries policies throughout the country.

ASA Guidance on Proposed Changes to Striped Bass Management

Last week, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission hosted the first of several public hearings regarding proposed changes to the Striped Bass Management Plan. The first hearing was for New Jersey, a state that has experienced incredible striper fishing recently despite the striped bass population being down in numbers. Anglers in attendance were both informed and engaged asking salient questions and providing input on preferred options.

Regarding the proposed changes, ASA is advocating for: (1) maintaining the 28-31” slot for the ocean fishery, (2) implementing a maximum recreational size in the Chesapeake Bay, (3) complementary reductions in the commercial fishery, and (4) no mode splits meaning same regulations for private and charter. Mike Waine, ASA’s Atlantic Fisheries Policy Director, developed a guide to the proposed changes as a support tool to help anglers participate in the public process. Public comments are due by December 22, and we encourage anglers to attend a public hearing and make their voice heard!

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ASA Continues to Speak Out on Boating Speed Restrictions

ASA Vice President of Government Affairs Mike Leonard was recently quoted in a Bloomberg Government article on proposed boating speed restrictions. The article covered both the right whale issue in the Atlantic and the Rice’s whale issue in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mike was quoted as saying that mandating the speed restrictions for smaller vessels will have “huge economic impacts across the entire Atlantic coast.” The article continued to say that ASA wants to work with NOAA to put in place more whale sensing technology aboard vessels and avoid imposing a “blanket restriction” related to speed limits across the board for smaller boats.

Please note – there is currently some confusion between the similarly named Rice’s whale in the Gulf of Mexico and the right whale in the Atlantic. Recently, NOAA Fisheries rejected a petition to establish a year-round 10-knot (11 mph) vessel speed limit in the Rice’s whale “core” habit in the Gulf of Mexico. This is a separate issue from the proposed right whale vessel speed restrictions in the Atlantic. A decision on that proposal should be available before the end of the year.

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Everglades Update

ASA Southeast Fisheries Policy Director Martha Guyas attended the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force meeting on Wednesday, November 15, in Washington, DC. The South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force brings together the federal, state, Tribal and local agencies involved in restoring and protecting the Everglades. 

The Task Force discussed past, current and future projects to restore water quality timing, and delivery of water and conserve habitats in the Everglades and South Florida. Everglades restoration is a priority for ASA and our industry because it will ensure clean waters and abundant fisheries for Florida’s more than 4 million anglers.

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Pacific Fisheries Management Council Delays Adopting a Rebuilding Analysis for Quillback Rockfish Off California

In November, ASA Pacific Fisheries Policy Director Larry Phillips attended the 2023 Pacific Fisheries Management Council Meeting in Garden Grove, CA. At the meeting, Larry testified regarding the need for fisheries-independent stock assessments for nearshore rockfish stock on the west coast.

The 2021 stock assessment of Quillback Rockfish off the California coast estimates the total biomass at ~14% of unfished abundance.  The Pacific Fisheries Management Council was scheduled to adopt a quillback rockfish rebuilding analysis during their November meeting in Garden Grove, CA. If adopted, would likely result in a near-complete closure of commercial and recreational nearshore groundfish fisheries north of Point Conception, CA.

The Council voted to not adopt the analysis after new information was shared that questioned the assessment and its estimate of quillback biomass.  Instead, the Council has announced it will hold a special meeting of the Science and Statistical Committee to address concerns raised by members of the public and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Details regarding the special meeting are expected to be posted on the PFMC website soon.

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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.