Elkins Op-Ed: Modern Fish Act Will Help Mississippi Recreational Anglers

November 8, 2018

As published in the Clarion Ledger.

The Oct. 30 column, “Bills would undo conservation efforts, make fishing harder in Mississippi,” was inaccurate and misleading about what the Modern Fish Act will do for fisheries management in the Gulf.

I find it interesting that this bill, which would benefit the recreational angling community, was submitted by a commercial fisherman who happens to be the leader of their organization and a chef.

If passed, this bill will help the economy and bring parity for recreational and commercial fishermen in the federal fisheries management system, which is long overdue. Since 1976, Mississippi’s anglers have been shoehorned into a system designed to manage commercial fisheries. That system has failed our marine resources, our economy and the recreational fishing community.

But meaningful reform does not happen overnight.

In 2014, the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management — a collaboration of anglers, recreational fishing stakeholders, scientists, environmentalists, and federal and state fisheries managers — presented policymakers a report on ways to improve recreational fisheries management at the federal level. This report is the foundation of the Modern Fish Act.

Since then, the recreational fishing community has worked to affect positive change by collaborating across party lines and with a variety of partners who believe in wise use of America’s public marine resources.

We want a fair process to govern our nation’s fisheries. And we want a system that serves the average American, not a select few special interests.

Nobody wants healthy fisheries and a vibrant future for fishing more than recreational anglers and their families. We will continue to drive the Modern Fish Act to the finish line so that policymakers have the tools they need to responsibly manage the recreational fishing sector.

Tommy Elkins is chairman of the Coastal Conservation Association of Mississippi. He lives in Bay St. Louis.