On Thursday, May 28, 2014, the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) sent a nationwide bulletin in support of HR 4742, urging House Natural Resource committee members to vote in favor of the bill.  As follow-up, RFA executive director Jim Donofrio had spoken directly with several members of the committee and is confident that the legislation will move to the floor of the House for a vote following the May 29 hearing.

“RFA is thankful for the efforts of key Committee members like Steve Southerland of Florida for helping stem the tide on restrictive catch shares,” Donofrio said.  “We are urging House members to vote favorably on the Southerland amendment to ensure that none of the funding made available by this act will be used to develop, approve or implement any new limited access privilege programs.”

The House Natural Resources Committee’s full committee markup is on Thursday morning at 10 a.m. at the Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. with the full committee expected to vote on HR 4742 which was introduced by Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) to improve and strengthen many provisions of the current Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

The “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act” being heard in the House Natural Resources Committee on Thursday morning would provide greater deadline flexibility in rebuilding fish stocks, modify annual catch limit and accountability measures to allow anglers access while fish stocks improve, better distinguish between overfished and depleted fisheries, while providing improved transparency and public process.

“A vote against this bill is a vote against America’s fishermen and fishing communities,” said Donofrio about the Hastings bill, adding “any committee member voting against this bill, whatever their party, is voting against his hometown fishermen.”

In addition to the Southerland amendment, RFA is also urging committee members to incorporate an amendment by senior member Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) that would implement a grant program to allow states to improve recreational data collection at the state level, while incorporating a National Research Council review of the current angler harvest methodologies used by the Department of Commerce.

“It’s too early to go against a good bill that gets fishermen fishing again, so there shouldn’t be any no votes on this bill on Thursday,” Donofrio said.  “The House Natural Resources Committee has a chance to set a real bipartisan tone this week which we hope can send a very strong message to the Senate.”

To view the full committee markup on May 29 starting at 10 a.m. go to http://naturalresources.house.gov/calendar/