In another historic show of solidarity, US recreational and commercial fishermen will gather at Upper Senate Park in Washington DC on March 21, 2012 starting at noon in an organized demonstration supporting sensible reform of the Magnuson Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act.
This is a follow-up to a rally in February of 2010 that brought some 5,000 recreational, commercial and party/charter vessel owners, fishermen and people in fisheries dependent businesses from all over the country to Washington. Twenty plus Members of the Senate and House of Representatives spoke regarding efforts to reform Magnuson.
Signed into law in 1976, the 36-year-old law most notably aided in the development of the domestic fishing industry by phasing out foreign fishing.
“In recent years however, the act has been transformed from its original intent into a weapon employed by a handful of mega-foundations and the so-called marine conservation organizations they subsidize aimed at reducing overall participation in our nation’s rich fisheries while driving both commercial and recreational fishermen off the water,” said Nils Stolpe, executive director of FishNet USA which represents the interests of US commercial fishermen.
Rally organizers are asking legislators for help to amend the law to provide a better balance of marine conservation and coastal commerce, as it was originally intended to do.
The upcoming rally is being billed as Keep Fishermen Fishing, and once again unites the commercial and recreational sectors under one common message, “fix Magnuson now.” There were more than 40 chartered buses filled with rally participants in 2010, and efforts are once again underway in many coastal states to transport fishermen back and forth to the rally.
“Those who didn’t attend or perhaps chose not to support the original rally are mostly unaware of the strides we’ve taken since 2010,” said Jim Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance and one of the rally organizers. “With the support of the two dozen members of Congress who addressed us at Upper Senate Park, leaders from both sides of the aisle have pushed to make Magnuson reform a Congressional priority. As a result, the House Natural Resources Committee is now reviewing eight different pieces of fisheries reform legislation.”
“Our coastal fishermen represent the true spirit of Main Street America, as over-burdensome regulations supported only by organizations and individuals supported by a handful of mega foundations is forcing third and fourth generation fishermen off the water and away from sustainable public resources,” said Stolpe. “The plight of our coastal fishermen is finally getting the media and legislative attention it deserves, and we hope to keep that momentum moving forward on March 21.”
For more information including bus details, visit www.keepfishermenfishing.com.