Updated 7/27/03

These bills have simply been relegated to committees and are on hold for some reason since 2001. We need to contact our representatives in Washington now and request that some movement be taken on these bills.

Marine Protected Areas (MPA's), Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HPAC's), Marine Sanctuaries, provisions to close certain areas in fishery management plans, are all nothing more than a back door assault by the PETA-heads on our rights to fish (those are the kooks that don't want you to fish or hunt). They have convinced the fishery biologists and managers that the only way to manage the stocks of ocean fish is to keep all access closed to both commercial and recreational fishermen.

At the end of the legislative session Oct. 2000, Senators John Breaux (D-LA) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), sponsored a bill to stop the National Marine Fisheries Service from implementing its agenda of "Marine Protected Areas". It was re-introduced in 2001 as "S.1314 ". The latest activity seems to have been on November 7, 2001 in the house as H.R.3547. I don't know at this time the status of these two bills. You need to call your representative and Senator and ask them why they have not progressed any further. 

The reason this bill was introduced is that the most important part of recreational fishing is the free and easy access to the waters around the country. If the National Marine Fisheries Service is allowed to continue closing areas of the ocean to recreational fishermen, we might as well all sell our boats and tackle and take up Parcheesi or golf. I've said it before but here it is again; the concept of "marine protected areas" is something that the anti-fishing crowd has come up with and convinced the bureaucrats and biologists of the NMFS to implement to supposedly save the fish. It is simply a way for the managers to stop managing and not have to worry about such trivial things as the rights of the majority. Management is necessary for all our resources and sometimes hard decisions are required to stop over-consumption before a species is lost to all, but closing off huge areas of the ocean is not a meaningful management tool. Size and bag limits as well as commercial quotas and reduction of un-wanted by-catch are all recognized and effective management tools. This "marine protected area" boondoggle is simply a way for the tiny minority of anti-fishermen to impose their will on the huge majority of citizens of this country.

Write your congressman and ask that they get on the bandwagon and protect our rights to fish by joining with Senators Breaux and Hutchison in passing a bill to allow us the freedom to fish.

Below is a release from the American Sportfishing Association that will give you a little more insight.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                     Contact: Forbes Darby

August 6, 2001                                                                                      (703) 519-9691

 Fighting Back Against No-Fishing Zones

ASA's Freedom to Fish Act Introduced in Congress

 Public access to the nation's ocean and coastal resources is being seriously threatened by the increased use of marine protected areas.  Angered by this proposition, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) worked closely with Congressional leaders on legislation to protect America's 12 million saltwater anglers.  Yesterday, Senators John Breaux (LA) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) reintroduced this legislation as the Freedom to Fish Act (S. 1314). 

 From California to Florida, no fishing zones are increasingly becoming the marine resource management tool of choice.  While recreational anglers account for just 2% of all the fish landed in U.S. ocean waters, some environmental groups are calling for sport fishing to be eliminated in anywhere from 5% to 20% of U.S. coastal waters.  These arbitrary figures have nothing to do with good science contend the supporters of the Freedom to Fish Act. 

 The proponents of arbitrarily closing off these areas should be ashamed of themselves for short changing America's conservation-minded anglers,says Mike Nussman, ASA vice president.  Many no-fishing zones ban recreational fishing even when the science clearly shows that anglers are not causing a problem to the resource.  That's just not smart management.

 Nussman goes on to point out that recreational anglers already are managed by a strict set of regulations ranging from closed seasons to catch limits to size limits and that when enforced correctly, these regulations have proven to be effective at ensuring healthy fish stocks.   

Time and area closures can be effective management tools when based on good scientific data,said David Cummins, President of CCA, but arbitrary restriction of recreational anglers merely displaces fishing effort, increases regulatory confusion, increases user group conflicts and casts doubt on the entire fishery management process.

 Blanket marine closures take away the single most important element to sport fishing – the public's access to the water.  The Freedom to Fish Act would establish common sense guidelines and safeguards to preserve the public's freedom to use and enjoy these resources. 

 According to the legislation, only in those cases where recreational fishing has demonstrable adverse effects could a specific, well-defined area be closed.  Further, once established targets were achieved, that area would reopen immediately to recreational anglers.   

Restricting public admission to our coastal waters should not be our first course of action, but rather our last,concluded Senator Breaux.   

Take action!  Support the Freedom to Fish Act!  Visit and write your member of Congress urging them to sign on to the Freedom to Fish Act (S.1314).  Your five minutes will make an enormous difference. 

For more information, e-mail or call (703) 519-9691.

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