NOAA Announces Action Agenda for Recreational Saltwater Fisheries

NOAA has released the Recreational Saltwater Fisheries Action Agenda, a national plan to address the complex issues facing marine recreational fisheries. The plan will improve science and stewardship and build a stronger partnership with the recreational community. It is a direct outcome of input received from recreational fishermen during the April 2010 Recreational Saltwater Fishing Summit organized by NOAA.

The Action Agenda includes a set of broad national goals, while focusing immediate attention on five priority issues:

· ensuring balanced recreational representation in the management process;
· more fully integrating recreational fishing values into the NOAA mission and culture;
· improving data on recreational fishing and fisheries;
· addressing recreational interests in NOAA’s catch share policy; and
· supporting cooperative research and monitoring.

“The Action Agenda is the roadmap for us to fulfill our commitments made during NOAA’s Recreational Fishing Summit,” said Eric Schwaab, NOAA assistant administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “We know it is the strength of our actions that matter in the end, and we are committed to moving forward aggressively.”

Schwaab also announced that NOAA will provide a $276,000 grant to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to help give recreational fishermen conservation information. A portion of the national grant will support a collaborative workshop in spring 2011 to examine how best to reduce barotrauma – the injury to deepwater fish when pulled to the surface rapidly – in recreational fisheries, in order to improve survival of fish caught and then released.

“The resulting mortality due to barotrauma is a contentious issue among stakeholders,” said John V. O’Shea, executive director of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. “The workshop will provide recreational fishermen, scientists, and managers the opportunity to develop a common understanding and approach to address this important issue.”

“Collaboratively, the recreational fishing community is a leading player in this program that will introduce stewardship to new anglers and reinforce the stewardship of existing anglers to reduce mortality of caught and released fish,” said Andy Loftus, coordinator for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission project. “The workshop will develop the best information available on catch-and-release practices that will be communicated to anglers for implementation. It’s a win-win in the best tradition of the recreational angling community and NOAA.”