(EDITOR'S NOTE: The following statement from Eric Schwaab, assistant administrator for NOAA's Fisheries Service, is in response to a recent ESPNOutdoors.com column by Robert Montgomery about a federal task force's potential impact on recreational fishing. There will more on this issue in the coming days, including a Q&A between Schwaab and BASS Conservation Director Chris Horton, as a part of ESPNOutdoors.com's continued full coverage of the Ocean Policy Task Force.)
The Ocean Policy Task Force has not recommended a ban on recreational fishing.
The draft reports by the Ocean Policy Task Force do not contain a zoning map and do not establish any restrictions on recreational fishing, nor make any judgments about whether one ocean activity or use is better than another. Instead, the reports set up a policy and framework for effectively managing the many sustainable uses of the ocean while upholding our responsibility to be stewards of our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes.
As a member of the task force, NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco, has said, and I echo her on this, that saltwater recreational fishing is vital to this nation and NOAA is committed to building a strong partnership with America's saltwater anglers to ensure that Americans have opportunities to fish sustainably for generations to come.
Saltwater recreational fishing matters to me on a personal level as a recreational fisherman, it matters to millions of Americans who enjoy this great sport and it matters to our economy. Our most recent economic report shows it supports a half million jobs and generates $82 billion in sales each year.
NOAA is committed to adopting policies that will ensure that current and future generations have the opportunity to enjoy the great tradition of recreational fishing.