NOAA Outreach Process Continues

February 23, 2011

MIAMI, FL – In a period of unprecedented public unrest about the current state of marine fisheries management, the leadership of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – including NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco – visited the largest boat show in the U. S. to meet with marine manufacturers, tackle dealers, conservationists and anglers.

The visit was a continuation of an outreach effort that included NOAA Fisheries’ recreational fishing summit last year which gathered input on issues ranging from fishery management council representation to marine spatial planning. NOAA officials are continuing to face criticism from the recreational angling community for recent fisheries closures, questions on catch share programs, and concerns for the future of recreational fishing.

“This was an important opportunity for NOAA leaders to see the scope and breadth of recreational fishing in person,” said Mike Nussman, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “Perhaps even more importantly, it was a chance for them to see both the true passion and the positive economic drivers that exist in recreational angling.”

“To my knowledge, this is the first time a NOAA Administrator has ever visited the boat show,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association which operates the Miami International Boat Show. “Dr. Lubchenco visited several boat and engine manufacturers and marine accessory dealers in her walk-through the show. She came to hear firsthand concerns of our industry, and she did. Business leaders across our industry were eager to share their feelings.”

With controversial issues like catch share programs, Magnuson-Stevens Act implementation, and the new National Ocean Policy reverberating in the fishing community, NOAA is actively seeking input from participants in the recreational industry. With passions running high, it is important for anglers and the angling industry to continue to present rational arguments and workable solutions to NOAA leadership so the agency can change the way the nation manages its marine resources and how it interacts with the recreational sector.

“It is critical for members of the recreational fishing arena to make their concerns heard,” said Jeff Angers, president of Center for Coastal Conservation. “Walking the aisles of the boat show and meeting with anglers allowed NOAA leaders to see the real concern in the industry. It is incumbent on everyone to reach out to our fishery managers and make their issues known. I’m pleased that the agency is so willing to listen.”

Dr. Lubchenco, along with NOAA Fisheries chief Eric Schwaab, External Affairs director Andy Winer and others toured the International Game Fish Association Museum and the adjacent Bass Pro Shop. The NOAA leadership team also met with various industry leaders, including Angers; Dammrich; Nussman; Rob Kramer of IGFA; Ellen Peel of The Billfish Foundation; Jeff Crane of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation; Pat Murray of Coastal Conservation Association; Yamaha’s Phil Dyskow; Shimano’s Phil Morlock, and others.