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House Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries considers ASA Priority Legislation

by American Sportfishing Association 28 Jul 00:30 UTC

On Thursday, July 27, the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries held a hearing on eight bills, including the SHARKED Act (H.R. 4051) and the Red Snapper Act (H.R. 4587). ASA is grateful to the subcommittee for considering these two bills, as both are top ASA priorities. They now head to the full committee for consideration.

"Today's hearing brought Congressional attention to some pressing challenges facing the recreational fishing community," said ASA Vice President of Government Affairs Mike Leonard. "Particularly in the southeastern U.S., shark depredation and limited access to red snapper are two of the top concerns you hear from recreational fishermen and the industry. Our thanks to Reps. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), Darren Soto (D-Fla.) and John Rutherford (R-Fla.) for their leadership on these bills, and to Chairman Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.) and all subcommittee members for holding the hearing."

The SHARKED Act addresses the growing problem of shark depredation, which occurs when a shark eats or damages a hooked fish before it can be reeled in. The bill would establish a task force comprised of fisheries managers and shark experts responsible for improving coordination and communication across the fisheries management community on shark depredation and identifying research priorities and funding opportunities.

The Red Snapper Act (H.R. 4587) prevents NOAA from implementing area closures throughout the South Atlantic until the Atlantic Great Red Snapper Count is completed, and its data can be compiled and integrated into the red snapper stock assessment. The Atlantic Great Red Snapper Count is a multi-year study that provides new research, data and analytics, ensuring fishery management correctly aligns with the health of the red snapper population. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) Division of Marine Fisheries Management Director Jessica McCawley testified in favor of the Red Snapper Act.

"A closure would have a devastating economic impact from Jacksonville to Key West," said McCawley. "NOAA estimates the value of recreational fishing of Florida's reef fish contributes an output of nearly $384 million dollars and supports more than 3,700 jobs. Closing access to reef fish off Florida's Atlantic coast would effectively eliminate this financial contribution, impacting Florida's and the nation's economy. FWC thanks Florida Congressman Rutherford for introducing H.R. 4587, the 'Red Snapper Act.'"

"This year's two-day South Atlantic red snapper season came and went in the blink of an eye, highlighting both the importance of this fishery to coastal communities, but also the frustration over lack of fishing opportunities for this highly abundant fishery," added Leonard. "We believe that the Atlantic Great Red Snapper Count will show what we already know - that Atlantic red snapper is more abundant today than anyone alive has ever seen and therefore greater access should be allowed."

A full list of the eight bills considered by the subcommittee can be found here and click here for more information on ASA's policy positions. We encourage our members and the public to visit our Keep America Fishing action alert portal to contact their members of Congress on various pieces of legislation.

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