Hello to the 2021 fishing season—we’re glad you’re here!
Whether it was our personal lives, work lives, or both, 2020 challenged us all in unexpected ways. Fortunately, as we celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week 2021, there is a lot of great fishing to look forward to.
Each National Fishing and Boating Week, I enjoy surveying the seascape of recent events and looking toward the future of recreational fishing. With reel oil on our hands, we can all appreciate that the summer fishing season has arrived. Millions of anglers can now engage in a safe, socially distanced, and sustainable outdoor activity after a stressful winter. With that in mind, I would like to provide an update on where our nation's fisheries stand.
The status of federally managed species continues to improve, with less than 10 percent of managed stocks subject to overfishing. Federal Fishery Management Councils are addressing priority issues for many recreational anglers, such as flexible management approaches, through the Gulf and South Atlantic Alternative Management working group and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils’ Recreational Fisheries Reform Initiative.
I hope that by now you have all seen that the Gulf of Mexico Great Red Snapper Count identified a substantially larger biomass of this popular species than previously estimated. In addition, planning for a similar study to estimate the abundance of South Atlantic red snapper is now under way. On the West Coast, recreational swordfish and albacore fisheries are flourishing while in the Pacific Islands, new grant programs supporting non-commercial and recreational fisheries are underway.
Through the National Fish Habitat Regional Partnerships, NOAA Fisheries has engaged recreational fishermen in on-the-ground fish habitat conservation for the third consecutive year. We are awarding grants for 2021 projects in Alaska, Washington, Louisiana, and Maryland. We have also teamed up with Bonnier Corporation once again to highlight America’s passion for saltwater recreational fishing through a second national photo contest. Knowing where we stand, we can look ahead with confidence.
The Biden-Harris Administration has identified a range of priorities with climate change at the forefront. We are seeing the effects of climate change across our fisheries with the movement of species northward and deeper into cooler waters. Algal blooms, hypoxia, and ocean acidification are affecting the marine environment with recreational anglers on the front lines of seeing these changes.
Emerging ocean uses, such as developing wind energy and marine aquaculture industries, are also receiving substantial interest. Now, early in the planning and development process, is the time for recreational anglers to engage on these issues to ensure your voice is heard. Only when we—fishermen, scientists, and managers—come together, will we be able to effectively address these issues in ways that support strong recreational fisheries.
With this in mind, I am pleased to announce that NOAA Fisheries and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission have begun planning for the fourth National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Summit. In the spring of 2022, the Summit will once again bring together anglers from across the nation to identify common concerns, priorities, and solutions.
Along with everyone at NOAA Fisheries, I hope you all can enjoy National Fishing and Boating Week and I hope to see you out on the water enjoying this great sport.
National Policy Advisor for Recreational Fisheries