NOAA making progress with national policy on recreational saltwater fishing

Parimal M. Rohit

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — Regulating and monitoring saltwater fishing could become more streamlined as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced in February it would develop a national policy guiding how fisheries are managed and incorporate recreational anglers who frequent ocean and bay waters into the process.

A national recreational fishing policy is currently being developed by NOAA Fisheries to implement broad procedures to guide how saltwater venues are consistently regulated. The West Coast is home to the biggest saltwater destination in the world: the Pacific Ocean.

According to NOAA, an implementation plan will be announced in mid-April.

“The policy sets the stage for improvements in recreational fisheries at all level throughout the agency and management process. It influences how we do business at NOAA Fisheries,” said Connie Barclay, director of public affairs for NOAA Fisheries. “This policy is a national framework developed to help serve as a guide. Recreational fishers in California can expect to see a regional implementation plan tailored to address region-specific issues in 2016.”

NOAA announced plans for a national saltwater fishing policy after a summit. At the Saltwater Recreational Fishing Summit held last year in Alexandria, Virginia, industry leaders revealed intentions to integrate non-commercial angling with NOAA’s mission and establish how future actions are developed.

The policy could provide anglers, legislators, policymakers and others with guidance on the quality of data used to monitor catch limits and how to provide more on-the-water fishing opportunities. Also, the policy would give local and state agencies an opportunity to share management priorities with NOAA and deliberate healthy habitats.

“Anglers should expect to see improvements in each of the policy’s six core areas as we begin to implement the policy, but may be most quickly visible in our communications efforts,” Barclay said.“For example, our National Policy Advisor and West Coast Regional Recreational Coordinator have already joined Pete Gray on ‘Let’s Talk Hookup’ to talk about everything from the policy to bluefin tuna.”

More than 11 million saltwater anglers take to coastal waters in the United States, according to NOAA, making them one of the largest organized groups within the national organization.

“The fishing experience may not improve for everyone right away,” Barclay said. “Improved fishing experience is the result of an improved process which ensures anglers have a voice in decisions that affect them, a process that ensures we’re generating information that promotes informed decision-making, a process that understands and responds to the needs of our stakeholders.”

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