Letters to the Editor

Changes needed to fisheries management system

Recreational fishing is a huge part of our state’s heritage. Mississippi is home to over 650,000 anglers. In today’s technologically-focused society, fishing provides a great opportunity to unplug and connect with friends, family and the outdoors.

However, recreational fishing faces many complicated challenges, from maintaining sustainable resources to ensuring future generations enjoy and appreciate the outdoors.

Many of the problems facing recreational fishing are seemingly out of our control, but thankfully one is being tackled by Congress.

The federal government manages offshore fisheries, which have historically been the domain of the commercial fishing industry. Improvements in boat design, sonar and GPS have made offshore waters much more accessible to anglers in recent decades, but management has failed to keep up. Our federal fisheries management system is based entirely around commercial fishing, and applies the same management strategies to recreational fishing despite being fundamentally different activities.

Fortunately, Sens. Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran, and Rep. Steven Palazzo have cosponsored the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act, which is a comprehensive set of provisions to adapt federal law to work for recreational fishing by improving fisheries management and science. While nothing in Congress is easy, given the magnitude of the threats facing recreational fishing, getting the federal government to recognize its importance should be a relatively easy lift. I’m grateful for our congressional delegation’s leadership and I am optimistic the recreational fishing community will see the changes we need and deserve.

Tony Deas