Committee seeks CCA’s input on role for recreational fisheries in ocean, coastal stewardship
U.S. Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, has invited Coastal Conservation Association to appear before a hearing on Nov. 4 to testify on the National Ocean Policy Task Force’s Interim Report. CCA federal lobbyist Matt Paxton will address the development of the National Ocean Policy and the role for recreational fisheries in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes stewardship.
“The Senate Commerce Committee is critical in the passage and implementation of laws that impact the oceans and fisheries,” said Matt Paxton, CCA federal lobbyist. “This is the committee that gives the Administration the legal authority to do what it wants to do with the National Ocean Policy.”
The hearing is the first Congressional hearing specifically about the National Ocean Policy and CCA intends to highlight several areas of concern in its testimony, particularly the need to include recreational anglers as a core element in the development of any overarching oceans policy.
“In this type of policy which is specifically about conservation and the health of our ocean resources, we have to be a part of that process,” said Paxton. “It is incumbent upon the Administration to recognize recreational anglers as stakeholders and stewards of the marine environment.”
CCA has also objected to the speed of the process to develop a National Ocean Policy and has sought to have concepts that are prominently featured in it, such “ecosystem-based management” and “marine spatial planning” clarified.
“These terms are not defined and could be extremely problematic for anglers,” said Paxton. “The Interim Report discusses ecosystem-based management and marine spatial planning as federal mandates. We do not believe the Administration has the authority to shoehorn these concepts into existing laws and implement them. The legal authority to do these things has to come through this Committee, which makes this hearing critical.”
The Interim Report has drawn widespread criticism from the recreational angling community for attempting to fast-track sweeping reforms for the management of resources in federal waters, but failing to recognize – or even mention – the conservation, economic or social contributions of recreational angling.
“Recognizing the economic importance of the boating and angling sector should be a key part of this policy,” said Paxton. “But even beyond that, any oceans policy should celebrate and promote the use and enjoyment of the marine environment by the public, much like the policies that govern our National Parks.”