Presidential action ensures recreational fishing in federal waters

President Bush's historic amendment maintains fishing in marine protected areas

On September 26, President George W. Bush signed an amendment to the 1995 Executive Order on recreational fishing. This historic amendment ensures that federal agencies must maintain recreational fishing on federal lands and waters, including marine protected areas. Once implemented, this policy will provide access to places where men, women and children can enjoy fishing now and in the future. The Executive Order revises Executive Order 12962 signed in 1995 by President Bill Clinton.

Over the past two years, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the Center for Coastal Conservation and its members, the Coastal Conservation Association, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Shimano American Corporation worked together to secure recreational fishing and boating access. President Bush's amendment recognizes the marine and freshwater conservation impact of recreational anglers by allowing responsible recreational fishing and boating in marine protected areas and federal lands.

"We applaud the President for taking this unprecedented step which recognizes that anglers and boaters play a significant and critical role in this country's successful conservation model which is the envy of the world," said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman. "As a recreational angler and boater himself, the President clearly understands that sportsmen and women are conservationists first and foremost and that recreational fishing is an essential component of the nation's heritage."

"The President's action established a legacy for recreational fishing by securing access to fishing and boating, the lifeblood of the American model of fisheries management and conservation," said ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson. "Every time American anglers buy fishing licenses or sportfishing equipment, an investment is made in fishing's future. This highly successful user-pay system for fishery management depends on access to the resource."

An August 25 Executive Memo signed by President Bush set the stage for today's Executive Order. The memo directed the Secretaries of Defense, Interior and Commerce and the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality to sustain access to recreational fishing as part of their study of potential marine protected areas (MPA) in the central Pacific Ocean. ASA supported the president's directive and his decision not to include the Gulf of Mexico and marine areas of the southeast United States as part of that MPA study.