Press Releases

Press Releases

U.S. House of Representatives Passes Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Bill

Landmark Fisheries Reform Takes Major Step Toward Becoming Law

Washington, D.C. – July 11, 2018 – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 200, a bipartisan bill that includes the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 (Modern Fish Act). This historic vote marks the first time the priorities of the recreational fishing sector are included in the reauthorization of our nation’s primary marine fisheries law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

The provisions of the Modern Fish Act (H.R. 2023) were included in H.R. 200 by the House Committee on Natural Resources on December 13, 2017. H.R. 200 is sponsored by Representative Don Young (R-Alaska) and cosponsored by Reps. Garret Graves (R-La.); Brian Babin (R-Texas); Clay Higgins (R-La.); Gene Green (D-Texas); Robert Wittman (R-Va.); Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.); Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.); Steve King (R-Iowa); Marc Veasey (D-Texas); Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), and Austin Scott (R-Ga.).

“Marine recreational fishing is not a partisan issue, which was illustrated by the support H.R. 200 received from both parties today in the House,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “We owe great thanks to Chairman Rob Bishop, Congressmen Don Young, Garret Graves, Gene Green and Marc Veasey for working together to properly recognize recreational fishing within the Magnuson-Stevens Act. These bipartisan leaders have made the difference for anglers from coast to coast.”

In 2014, the priorities of the recreational fishing and boating community were identified and presented to federal policy makers by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management in a report “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries.” This group is also referred to as the Morris-Deal Commission, named for co-chairs Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boat Group. 

Many of the recommendations of the Morris-Deal Commission are addressed by the Modern Fish Act and included in H.R. 200. This legislation addresses many of the challenges faced by recreational anglers, including allowing alternative management tools for recreational fishing, reexamining fisheries allocations and improving recreational data collection. The bill aims to benefit fishing access and conservation by incorporating modern management approaches, science and technology to guide decision-making.

“The recreational fishing industry is grateful that H.R. 200, which includes the provisions of the Modern Fish Act, has now passed the U.S. House of Representatives,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “The Modern Fish Act represents the collective priorities of the recreational fishing community for improving federal marine fisheries management. There are 11 million saltwater anglers in the U.S. who have a $63 billion economic impact annually and generate 440,000 jobs. This legislation will help ensure that the economic, conservation and social values of saltwater recreational fishing will continue well into the future.”

“We applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for passing commonsense legislation modernizing the federal fisheries management system, which will provide America’s recreational anglers and boaters reasonable and responsible access to public marine resources,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “The recreational boating industry calls on the U.S. Senate to pick up the baton, and immediately take up and pass S.1520, the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 (Modern Fish Act). Millions of Americans are counting on it.”

“We are grateful to our champions from both sides of the aisle in the House for recognizing the needs of recreational anglers and advancing this important fisheries management reform,” said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “This is truly a watershed moment for anglers in our never-ending quest to ensure the health and conservation of our marine resources and anglers’ access to them.”

“We thank the House Leadership, Congressman Young and the leaders of the House Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus for their leadership in finding bipartisan solutions to move the bill forward,” said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “The provisions of the Modern Fish Act contained in H.R. 200 are a top priority for saltwater anglers across the United States and charts a clear course for effective recreational fisheries management while ensuring abundant, sustainable fisheries for future generations.”

“We are on our way to pragmatic Magnuson-Stevens Act reform that will allow better access to rebuilt fish stocks while ensuring long-term sustainability,” said Jim Donofrio, president of the Recreational Fishing Alliance

“Passing these provisions of the Modern Fish Act means taking the next important step in recognizing the cultural value of recreational fishing and conservation contributions of American anglers,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We will continue to work with our sportfishing partners to engage with senators and see to it that the Modern Fish Act becomes law—it is critical if we hope to see saltwater anglers benefit from the advances in fisheries science, data collection, and management at the heart of this important legislation.”

Following today’s vote, the coalition encourages the Senate to quickly pass S. 1520. Marine recreational anglers and boaters are eager to see these landmark reforms signed into law.

-end-

150-Foot Steel Vessel Deployed in Volusia County

New Reef the Result of Several Partnerships

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Florida – (June 27, 2018) –On Saturday, June 23, 2018, the Lady Philomena, a 150-foot steel vessel was deployed in 80 feet of water at artificial reef site 12, roughly nine miles offshore the Ponce de Leon Inlet. 

This project was made possible through the funding partnerships of Volusia County, Coastal Conservation Association Florida (CCA Florida) and CCA’s National Habitat Program, the Building Conservation Trust (BCT). BCT received a grant from the FishAmerica Foundation, the conservation funding arm of the American Sportfishing Association, and the Brunswick Public Foundation, which helped ensure the project’s success. 

“As the FishAmerica Foundation celebrates 35 years of teaming with local groups to enhance fisheries and water quality, there could be no better effort to exemplify the accomplishments that can be made than participating in the deployment of the Lady Philomena in conjunction with CCA Florida and BCT,” remarked Andrew Loftus, grant manager for the FishAmerica Foundation. “The benefits of this project to the environment, economy and sport fishing will grow each year as the reef ecosystem develops.”

“Meaningful partnerships are the reason we are able to do great marine habitat work in Florida and throughout the United States,” said John Carlson, chairman of the Building Conservation Trust. “The dedication of like-minded organizations demonstrates the power of coming together to benefit marine life and the local community.”

The 90-foot Tug Everglades was also placed alongside the Lady Philomena during last week’s deployment. The vessels are intact and upright on the seabed in very close proximity to one another and will make excellent fishing and diving sites.

The Lady Philomena was forfeited to the U.S. Customs in Miami, after having been seized with contraband. The vessel was deployed in an established artificial reef system consisting of clean concrete culverts, structures and large concrete bridge components. The deployment of the Lady Philomena will enhance this underwater community, attracting marine life such as fish, shrimp and crabs. Artificial reefs also boost local economies through an increase in sport fishing, tourism and patronage in small businesses. The Volusia County artificial reef system is visited by an estimated 50,000 vessels annually and experiences high visitation by recreational anglers and divers.

The reef started generating local excitement last fall, when Volusia County hosted a two-day viewing party that enabled visitors the opportunity to tour the ship. 

“The deployment of the Lady Philomena has been widely anticipated, and it is so gratifying to have seen the project’s completion, from start to finish,” said Brian Gorski, executive director of CCA Florida. “Projects like this really bring nearby residents together and educate the public of the value of marine habitat conservation. We are so grateful for our many strong partnerships, as well as the outpouring of support from the local community.”

June 26, 2018 - A Tribute to Karl WickstromFlorida Sportsman founder and champion of angler rights

 

The entire team at CCA Florida, our members and many others in the industry, are mourning the passing of Karl Wickstrom, 82, founder of Florida Sportsman and a life-long advocate for recreational angling. The following tribute is from our friends at Florida Sportsman.

“No individual has done more in the past 50 years for the health of our fisheries than Karl Wickstrom,” said Congressman Charlie Crist(D-FL 13thDistrict) and former Florida governor. “Someone whose journalism informed and created a vibrant community that will continue to defend and expand sustainable fishing practices and the protection of our environment for decades to come.”

Born 1935 in Rock Island, Illinois, Wickstrom earned a journalism degree from the University of Florida at Gainesville and soon after started his career as a sports reporter. In 1960, he moved to Miami to work for the Miami Heraldas an investigative journalist, winning state and national awards for incisive reporting on corruption in public affairs. In 1969, he founded Florida Sportsman(first titled Florida and Tropic Sportsman), engaging Vic Dunaway, at the time a well-known outdoors writer at the Herald, to lead editorial efforts at the new magazine. Florida Sportsmanquickly grew to become the leading source for information on Florida’s developing boating and fishing interests and importantly, the voice of the state’s recreational anglers and hunters on issues of access, management and environmental causes. Florida Sportsmancelebrates its 50thanniversary in 2019.

Through the decades as publisher of Florida Sportsman, Wickstrom fought and won a number of legal changes to benefit Florida marine resources and recreational angling, garnering numerous awards along the way. Wickstrom was co-founder of the Florida Conservation Association in 1984, now Coastal Conservation Association (CCA). He was a benefactor of many other marine resource organizations, including The Florida Oceanographic Society in Stuart, the Rivers Coalition, The Martin County Anglers Club (which named the Wickstrom Reef after him) and a long list of others. His magazine voiced the concerns of recreational interests in countless disputes with fishery managers over allocations and access to waters, often winning decisions in the court of public opinion with his editorials in the magazine.

Wickstrom also worked to achieve gamefish status for redfish, ending commercial sale of the species in the state, and fought ceaselessly for the rights of recreational anglers subject to management policies that often favored commercial fishing interests. 

“Karl was a great man and an equally great friend. He gave an incredible amount of energy to Coastal Conservation Association Florida,” said Ted Forsgren, Special Advisor to CCA. “We went through so many battles over the past 35 years that I can hardly list them. Some of the big issues included gamefish status for redfish, blending two agencies into one constitutional fish and wildlife commission and banning fish traps in federal waters. And of course, the constitutional amendment prohibiting the use of gill and entanglement nets, the ‘mother of all fishing wars,’ as one of the commercial fishing lobbyists called it.”

That battle was one of Wickstrom’s biggest victories in the name of marine resources and recreational angling. It came in the early 1990s, when he mounted the Save Our Sealife Initiative to end the destructive use of gillnets in Florida waters. The movement came to be known as the net ban, and Wickstrom and Florida Sportsmanwere key leaders in the campaign to amend Florida’s constitution to ban the nets. In 1994, the constitutional amendment that the campaign put to ballot passed with 72 percent of the vote. In the years following Florida’s fisheries rebounded dramatically.

After the net ban victory, Wickstrom turned much of his attention, and his writing inFlorida Sportsman, to the fight against the environmental disaster of chronic Lake Okeechobee water releases through the St. Lucie River and the Caloosahatchee rivers. For decades he supported the Rivers Coalition and other organizations in that statewide battle for cleaner waters for Florida estuaries and the Everglades.

“In his long history as a writer, editor and conservationist,” said Mark D. Perry, Executive Director, Florida Oceanographic Society, “Karl Wickstrom was a champion for Florida’s waters through several campaigns. Karl fought for our northern estuaries to stop the destructive discharges from Lake Okeechobee and send that water south to the Everglades and Florida Bay. He was a tenacious and effective advocate for our waters and I was honored to fight alongside this incredible champion.”

Wickstrom earned a long list of publishing and conservation awards. In 1995 the American Sportfishing Association named him “1995 Man of the Year” for his work on the gillnet ban. In 1999 he won The Billfish Foundation’s John Rybovich Lifetime Achievement Award. He was inducted into the International Game Fish Association’s (IGFA) Fishing Hall of Fame in 2008. 

“Karl Wickstrom has always displayed a fierce will to protect Florida's waters and its fish populations, taking on everyone from governors to bureaucrats to captains of industry anytime he saw a threat to the future of the resources,” said Frank Sargeant, editor of The Fishing Wire and a regular contributor to Florida Sportsmansince 1970. “I also remember Karl's quick and incisive wit, and his ability to endlessly have a good time on the water. When the snook were not biting, Karl might propose a ‘who can put the lure closest to the mangroves’ casting contest. That usually resulted in one of us sticking his head in among the incredible clouds of no-see-ums to extract our lure while the other mercilessly drove the boat further into the bushes. It was always fun, even when we came back to the dock bug-bitten and empty-handed.” 

In 2015, Karl won CCA Florida’s Ted Forsgren Conservation Award. At the time of that CCA award, presenter Bill Camp, past chair of CCA, said of Karl, “The Net Ban. Water quality. Recreational angler access. Sound resource management. Common sense. Karl Wickstrom has been your voice on these concerns and issues. Our voice. It’s the voice you want on your side. Unyielding. Passionate. Witty. Smart. Totally awesome.”

Wickstrom was also respected and influential in political circles, as well. 

“When I first ran for public office 16 years ago,” said Sarah Heard, Martin County Commission officer since 2002, “Karl was the first person I contacted for support. No one in Florida enjoys or deserves more respect and admiration for his conservation credentials than Karl does. In a state notorious for flim flammers and greedy scammers, Karl stands out for his integrity and commitment to the natural resources of our state.”

As lauded as he was publicly for his accomplishments in conservation of wildlife resources, Karl Wickstrom was also well loved by his readers for his emphasis on the value of fishing and hunting in their lives. For nearly 50 years now, the magazine Karl started has spread both of those messages throughout Florida and across the U.S, and the interests of outdoor enthusiasts have been much stronger for his achievements.  

“People might be reminded that the chief examples of Wickstrom’s legacy are actually written into Florida law,” said Jeff Weakley, current editor of Florida Sportsmanmagazine. “In the state Constitution, ‘Article X, Section 16: Limiting marine net fishing,’ is practically his own. Karl also envisioned and championed passage of ‘Article IV, Section 9: Fish and wildlife conservation commission.’ Ongoing legislative work—challenging and exciting—to reclaim Florida’s natural-flowing estuaries in part reveals his handwriting. 

“Karl’s work has entertained and inspired generations of readers,” Weakley said. “His legacy continues to shape the very philosophies and systems that govern the conservation and public use of natural resources.”

Read more about Karl and his legacy at www.floridasportsman.com.

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