SOLDOTNA, Alaska--(BUSINESS WIRE)--On Wednesday, August 23, 2017, at Kenai Peninsula College in Soldotna, Alaska, key marine industry influencers testified during an official U.S. field hearing held by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard. During the hearing, Ben Speciale, Yamaha Marine Group President, A.G. “Spud” Woodward, Director, Coastal Resources Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Liz Ogilvie, Chief Marketing Officer, American Sportfishing Association®, testified about the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the nation’s primary saltwater fishery management act.
During the hearing entitled, “Reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act: Oversight of Fisheries Management Successes and Challenges in Alaska,” Speciale’s testimony illuminated the depth and importance of recreational fishing and boating contributions to the U.S. economy. He focused on the economic impact of recreational saltwater fishing, and underscored the need to amend the current Magnuson-Stevens Act and allow for increased management flexibility for recreational fisheries. Speciale also explained that the positive economic effects of recreational saltwater fishing reach beyond coastal areas, touching all 50 states.
“Yamaha owns and operates a foundry in Indianapolis, Ind., which produces more than 60 thousand stainless steel propellers each year that are used on Yamaha and other outboard motors,” said Speciale. “More than a third of those props are used in saltwater boat applications despite the fact that they are manufactured in a landlocked state.
“We employ 130 hardworking Americans in Indianapolis. However, the economic impact of our propeller plant doesn’t end in Indianapolis,” he continued. “If you take a look at the raw materials that go into making those propellers, you will find that they come from all over the country. The waxes used in the investment casting process are shipped to Indianapolis from factories in Muskegon, Mich. or Cleveland, Ohio. Stainless steel is shipped to Indianapolis as ingots from Oil City, Pa. and from Muskegon, Mich. The various minerals used in the alloys are mined in a number of places, including Climax, Co., a state not known for saltwater fishing. Nickel used in the alloy likely comes from the Eagle Mine on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Furthermore, once the propellers have left our Indianapolis plant, they go on to support small businesses in all fifty states through our boat builder and dealer networks.”
During his testimony, Woodward emphasized the need to apply the principle of adaptive management in managing federal fisheries. He cited examples of two species, South Atlantic Red Snapper and Atlantic Migratory Group Cobia, the Georgia DNR believes have mismanaged from a recreational fishing stand point by a “one size fits all” approach that has ultimately failed, giving anglers limited to no access to these species. He also called for more involvement and decision making from regional councils.
“While it is admirable to set goals that are uniform across all federally-managed fisheries, the ‘one size fits all’ approach to managing marine species with widely varying life cycles, habitat requirements, and vulnerability to fishing mortality cannot work when applied from the Western Pacific to the South Atlantic,” said Woodward. “Rather than set prescriptive goals, the MSA should allow the decision makers to use their best judgment to determine how best to eliminate overfishing and rebuild stocks without eliminating all opportunities for access to the fish. When created by the original MSA, the regional councils were designed for that very purpose. However, under the current version of MSA they cannot fulfill that purpose.”
Ogilvie underscored Speciale’s emphasis on the economic impact of recreational fishing by focusing her testimony on national recreational fishing trends, how federal fisheries management affects recreational fishing, and the growth opportunities in the saltwater recreational fishing market, which are limited under the current version of MSA.
“The industry sees tremendous growth opportunities in the saltwater fishing market. According to data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the average cost of a saltwater trip ($134.88) is approximately twice that of a freshwater trip ($69.05),” said Ogilvie. “Substantial economic opportunities for our industry and associated industries exist with offshore recreational fishing, but we are confronted with a management system that for years has been limiting that opportunity.”
During her testimony, Ogilvie also asked for support for the bipartisan Modern Fish Act, legislation that addresses many of the challenges faced by recreational anglers, including allowing alternative management approaches for recreational fishing, reexamining fisheries allocations, smartly rebuilding fish stocks and improving recreational data collection. The bill, which has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, would benefit recreational fishing access and conservation.
“As a community, comprised of thousands of businesses and the millions of customers they serve, we want modern management approaches, science and technology to guide decision-making. Since its original passage in 1976 and through subsequent reauthorizations, the Magnuson-Stevens Act has never focused specifically on addressing the unique challenges of federal saltwater recreational fisheries management,” she concluded. “We hope Congress will use the current reauthorization process as an opportunity to address this historic inequity.”
Yamaha Marine products are marketed throughout the United States and around the world. Yamaha Marine Group, based in Kennesaw, Ga., supports its 2,000 U.S. dealers and boat builders with marketing, training and parts for Yamaha’s full line of products and strives to be the industry leader in reliability, technology and customer service. Yamaha Marine is the only outboard brand to have earned NMMA®’s C.S.I. Customer Satisfaction Index award every year since its inception. Visit www.yamahaoutboards.com.
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