Freedom to Fish Bill Reintroduced

Senators John Breaux (D-LA) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) reintroduced the Freedom to Fish Act to protect the rights of salt water anglers. Public access to the nation’s ocean and coastal resources is seriously threatened as no-fishing zones and marine protected areas become more widely used by marine-resource managers. These closures affect both commercial and recreational fishermen, including anglers who practice catch-and-release, and usually are not based on science. Anglers already fish under strict regulations, including closed seasons and size and catch limits, that are proven effective to maintain healthy stocks. Under the Freedom to Fish Act, only a specific, well-defined area could be closed in those cases where recreational fishing is shown to have adverse effects. And once established targets are achieved, that area would be reopened to anglers immediately. According to Breaux, "Restricting public admission to our coastal waters should not be our first course of action, but rather our last."