that the recreational fishing segment is
now at such a robust level of national
participation that it offers economic benefit for the nation and requires adequate
management, just as the commercial sector once did. It’s time to take the next
step with the law.”
One big step among your
commission’s recommendations was asking
NMFS to adopt a “national policy for recreational fishing” that sets goals for sport
fisheries management and identifies strategies to meet them. The agency did just that
when it released its Saltwater Recreational
Fisheries Policy in early 2015. Has that
policy hit the mark?
MCKINNEY: “The stated policy is good
as far as it goes. But this is a big ship, and it
takes time to change course. What it does
do, however, is put the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration and its
service on record as having such a policy,
and that’s important when Congress considers reauthorizing MSA.”
Why is that so important?
MCKINNEY: “Writing a policy is one
6 BIG FIXES FOR FISHERY MANAGEMENT
In 2013, the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management assem- bled a panel of state and federal agency administrators, researchers, industry representatives, and economists to promote a “proactive vision for saltwater
Its report, “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries,” dif-
ferentiates the economic, social, and conservation needs of recreational fishing from
those of commercial fishing, and provides six recommendations to the National Marine
Fisheries Service and to Congress that should be incorporated in the next Magnuson-
Stevens Act reauthorization.
Establish a national policy for recreational fishing that identifies goals and strategies
for recreational fisheries management at local, state, and national levels.
Revise the approach to saltwater recreational fisheries management to base it on
long-term catch rates, not strictly on poundage quotas. (Both conservation and angler
access to more species would result.)
Allocate marine fisheries for the greatest benefit to the nation with criteria that consider conservation and socioeconomic output. Procedures for review and adjustment
at regular intervals must be included.
Create reasonable latitude in stock rebuilding timelines, with greater latitude than in
current law to rebuild in a timely manner.
Organize a process for cooperative management to determine on a stock-by-stock
basis whether state, regional, or federal bodies are most appropriate and capable of
successfully managing the stock.
Manage the forage base (i.e., prey species) to provide optimal health, reproduction,
and growth in important stocks that sustain predator fish.