President Bush signs Executive Order to Preserve Recreational Fishing on Striped Bass and Red Drum

On October 20th, at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in Maryland, President Bush signed an executive order to set a policy to conserve striped bass and red drum fish for the recreational, economic and environmental benefit of present and future generations of Americans.  This order would prevent the sale of striped bass and red drum caught in federal waters,promotes more accurate scientific records about fish population levels and to improve the quality of the data, the federal government will be building a recreational saltwater registry that wil collect information from sportsmen about local fish stocks, which will help us better protect striped bass, red drum and all our fisheries.  The executive order also helps the federal government work with state and local officials to find innovative ways to conserve these species for future generations. 

During the presentation the President stated the following, “Listen, it’s important to be a commercial fisherman; I understand that. But the commercial fishermen and the sport fishermen don’t have to be antagonistic. It’s not a zero-sum game. Good policy will help our commercial fishermen and good policy will help our sport fishermen. And that’s what we’re here to talk about. And it’s important to recognize here in America that sport fishing is a important industry; a lot of people make a living because of sport fishing. I don’t know if people know this, but millions of Americans are spending about $40 billion a year on sport fishing. I know in our state, Walter, there’s a lot of people, a lot of entrepreneurs making a good living — they’re fishing guides. A lot of bait shops and small business owners are doing well as a result of good sport fishing policy.

And finally, the executive order encourages states to take a look at their own management of the fish stocks. See, we believe in cooperative conservation. That means cooperation at the federal, state and local levels. We believe in a collaborative approach. The federal government ought to work with all stakeholders to achieve common consensus. And I respect the state’s role in the management of the natural resources under their care. So I’m directing federal agencies to work with state officials to find innovative ways to help conserve striped bass and red drum.

And one such way is to use the state designation of “gamefish” where appropriate. I hope the state officials take a serious look at gamefish designation; it is an effective tool to protect endangered or dwindling species. See, it prohibits commercial sales, which removes the incentive to catch the fish for anything other than recreational purposes. State designations of gamefish have helped the recovery of species such as trout and large-mouth bass and tarpon and snook. People need to take a look at this tool to make sure that the fisheries are robust. Strong fisheries mean local sales. Local sales means better local economy. ”

Louis Daniels, director of North Carolina‘s division of marine fisheries, said “It’s an executive order to close two fisheries that are already closed.  That will definitely inflame tensions between recreational and commercial fishermen, because it’s an allocation issue that’s being dictated. What’s the practical implications of this? Nothing,” he said. “But it does remove flexibility to reopen the EEZ in the future, at least for commercial fishermen.”

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