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WASHINGTON, DC, March 19, 2018 – As Congress considers updating the nation’s primary law governing fisheries, some recreational fishing groups are pushing for major changes that could jeopardize the health of popular fisheries like red snapper and summer flounder, according to a new issue brief from the Center for American Progress.

For more than four decades, the Magnuson-Stevens Act has helped make U.S. fisheries among the best-managed in the world. Since implementation of the law, which requires science-based management, 44 different fish stocks have been rebuilt to healthy population levels following historic overfishing, the brief says. That means that more fish are available to catch, which directly contributes to economic gains for both the recreational and commercial fishing sectors.

But in recent years, recreational equipment manufacturers have joined forces with some recreational fishing groups to seek changes in the law that would provide greater recreational access to fisheries. These proposals would weaken established science-based safeguards that promote the health and abundance of fish stocks, the brief argues. The emphasis on access at the expense of abundance reflects a push by the equipment industry to sell more boats, tackle, and gear.

The brief concludes that increasing access to fisheries without adequate fishery abundance protections would be an empty victory for recreational anglers. The only way to ensure the best experience for the anglers of today and tomorrow—and a profitable enterprise for the commercial sector—is to maintain management principles founded in sound science and with an eye toward long-term productivity.

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Read the issue brief: “The Rise of the Recreational Fishing Lobby” by Alexandra Carter and Michael Conathan.

The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”