With as much as 20 percent of U.S. coastal waters from Maine to the Hawaiian Islands slated for possible closure to recreational fishing, the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) is waging a legislative and legal battle to protect recreational anglers¿’right to fish. Pending federal ¿”o-fishing zones¿”in the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic and Pacific Ocean threaten to exclude recreational fishermen from U.S. marine resources.
In response, CCA worked with congressional leaders to draft the ¿”reedom to Fish Act,¿”sponsored by Sen. John Breaux (D-LA) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) for the current congressional session. This bill will help ensure recreational anglers¿’right to access and set a precedent for future legislation.
The secretary of commerce recently issued a regulation to close two areas off of the Florida coast to recreational fishing in order to protect threatened stocks of gag grouper. CCA has filed suit against the National Marine Fisheries Service in federal district court opposing this closure because the no-fishing zones prohibit fishing for non-threatened surface species as well as bottom fishing for grouper.
CCA opposes regulations that prohibit recreational fishing access unless it can be scientifically determined that recreational fishermen cause a specific conservation problem and traditional conservation measures cannot solve the problem.