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Vive la Difference!

Fresh-caught (by you!) red snapper, a reasonable goal for the coming new year.


Two different animals, please. Like night and day.

And finally, after decades during which some of us have moaned and groaned incessantly about fishery management failures, there is hope, springing eternal as it does.

What is new is that more and more leaders are shaking free of the commercial influence that has for so long dominated saltwater fishing regulations for the excessive profits of a few.

The landmark change is a long-overdue recognition that there is a world of difference between (1) taking and selling large quantities of fish or other wildlife and (2) strictly limiting non-commercial catches equally among everyone.

Four bills in Congress are addressing needed reforms that spotlight the crucial difference between taking fish for profit and catching a few for family-level recreation.

And much stronger lobbying and research is coming from sportfishing advocates such as the Center for Sportfishing Policy, which we trust you support wholeheartedly.

We still have to expose and overcome a sometimes lingering notion that “a dead fish is a dead fish,” regardless of how it's taken. That sort of short-sighted thinking has been used to try to justify all kinds of excesses and overfishing.

Mistakes in past management were summarized to Congress by the Sportfishing Center's president Jeff Angers this way:

“Federal fisheries managers do a lot of guessing in regulating recreational fishing because federal data is lacking and outdated — and they reject or ignore real-time data provided by the states. America's 11 million saltwater recreational anglers have experienced systematic reductions of opportunity to enjoy America's marine resources due to the one-size-fits-all approach of federal management. We are hopeful Congress will recognize that recreational fishing and commercial fishing are different endeavors which need to be managed differently.”

Even so, the new bills and proposals instill optimism, as from Chris Macaluso, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership's Center:

“Today, I am more optimistic about the future of federal recreational fishing management than I have been at any other time in the last 10 years. The bills under consideration contain provisions that would help improve federal fisheries management for recreational fishing, potentially marking the first time in the history of the Magnuson-Stevens Act that the law specifically recognizes the vital role recreational fishing plays in our economy and identifies that recreational fishing is a fundamentally different activity than commercial fishing that requires a different management approach.”

Bring on that different approach.

Stay tuned to floridasportsman.com and the Center for Sportfishing Policy for updates on the legislation.

First Published Florida Sportsman Magazine December 2017

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