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TU Responds to ESPN Outdoors Piece on Sportfishing

TU members and supporters got an email from the TU leadership offering their view on the flap surrounding the Oceans Policy Task Force. There had been significant confusion about the task force was up to. TU has done a good job of helping to cut through the atmospherics and get solid information out to the membership.

Three points at the end deserve special attention:

We at TU hope that the CEQ and NOAA statements put this issue to rest. In our view, there is no evidence that the Obama Administration intended to use the work of the Ocean Task Force to undercut marine sport fishing.

Also, we would like to point out that Eric Schwaab, NOAA’s Assistant Administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service, began his new position in February and is a superb conservationist and an avid angler. We wish him well and look forward to working with him in the coming months.

NOAA has invited TU to join many other sportfishing groups to participate in a “Recreational Saltwater Fishing Summit” in Alexandria, Va. in April to discuss this and other issues pertaining to marine sportfishing.

TU email follows:

Dear TU Supporters:

We wanted to take a moment to respond to a number of you who have written to us this week concerning an ESPN piece that appeared on the ESPN Outdoors website about the draft proposal recently published by the President’s Ocean Policy Task Force. The first sentence in the piece said the following: “The Obama administration has ended public input for a federal strategy that could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing some of the nation’s oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters.”

Subsequently, the Executive Producer of ESPN Outdoors issued a statement saying that the piece was an opinion piece and not a news article. That statement is linked here, as is the original published piece from the ESPN Outdoors website.

http://sports.espn.go.com/outdoors/saltwater/columns/story?columnist=bowman_steve&id=4982359

The confusion over the ESPN article led the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the coordinating entity for federal environmental efforts, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), to issue the following statements:

Eric Schwaab, NOAA’s Assistant Administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service:

“The Ocean Policy Task Force has not recommended a ban on recreational fishing.”

“The draft reports by the Ocean Policy Task Force do not contain a zoning map and do not establish any restrictions on recreational fishing, nor make any judgments about whether one ocean activity or use is better than another. Instead, the reports set up a policy and framework for effectively managing the many sustainable uses of the ocean while upholding our responsibility to be stewards of our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes.”

“As a member of the task force, NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco, has said, and I echo her on this, that saltwater recreational fishing is vital to this nation and NOAA is committed to building a strong partnership with America’s saltwater anglers to ensure that Americans have opportunities to fish sustainably for generations to come.”

“Saltwater recreational fishing matters to me on a personal level as a recreational fisherman, it matters to millions of Americans who enjoy this great sport and it matters to our economy. Our most recent economic report shows it supports a half million jobs and generates $82 billion in sales each year.”

“NOAA is committed to adopting policies that will ensure that current and future generations have the opportunity to enjoy the great tradition of recreational fishing.”

Christine Glunz, Communications Director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality issued statements the following statement today regarding the Ocean Policy Task Force:

“The draft reports issued by the Ocean Policy Task Force have involved extensive stakeholder input and public participation as they were being prepared, which has included the interests of conservationists and the recreational fishing community. These draft reports are not map-drawing exercises, they do not contain a zoning plan, and they do not establish any restrictions on recreational fishing or on public access, nor make any judgments about whether one ocean activity or use is better than another.”

“The Ocean Policy Task Force sincerely appreciates the conservation activities of recreational users, who have a long history of actively participating in the stewardship of the ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources. The Task Force strongly believes in the ability of recreational fishermen and women to continue to enjoy these activities that are critical to the economic, social, and cultural fabric of our country. In fact, one of our main goals is to ensure healthier ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes, which will benefit all recreational activities and the communities and economies that rely on them.”

We at TU hope that the CEQ and NOAA statements put this issue to rest. In our view, there is no evidence that the Obama Administration intended to use the work of the Ocean Task Force to undercut marine sport fishing.

Also, we would like to point out that Eric Schwaab, NOAA’s Assistant Administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service, began his new position in February and is a superb conservationist and an avid angler. We wish him well and look forward to working with him in the coming months.

NOAA has invited TU to join many other sportfishing groups to participate in a “Recreational Saltwater Fishing Summit” in Alexandria, Va. in April to discuss this and other issues pertaining to marine sportfishing.

We’ll be there and we’ll look forward to continuing to work with NOAA on the many challenges we face together.

Regards,

Chris Wood, President and CEO

Steve Moyer, Vice President, Government Affairs

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