ALEXANDRIA, Virginia—U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross recently met with recreational fishing and boating industry leaders at Maverick Boat Group, Inc. in Fort Pierce, Florida, to discuss marine recreational fishing access and the importance of marine recreation to the U.S. economy. Following a tour of the manufacturing facility, Secretary Ross indicated good news is ahead for South Atlantic red snapper and that his office is finalizing the rule requiring descending devices onboard vessels targeting snapper grouper in the South Atlantic.
On April 27, a coalition of recreational fishing and boating organizations supported the descending device rule in a public comment letter. One problem has been the rate at which these fish die after they are released due to the effects of barotrauma, a condition that results from increased pressure of internal gasses as deep-water fish are brought rapidly to the surface. A descending device is a weighted hook, lip clamp, or box that will hold the fish while it is lowered to a sufficient depth to recover from the effects of barotrauma and release the fish.
During the visit, Secretary Ross spoke with the group about the challenges facing the marine industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic and actions the Administration could take to promote recreational access and spur economic growth. Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) also participated in the roundtable.
Representatives from the industry included boat builders; fiberglass, resin and component manufacturers; engine and trailer manufacturers; and fishing equipment manufacturers, among others, who help create hundreds of thousands of jobs across the supply chain in all 50 states. According to NOAA Fisheries, marine recreational fishing is a major driver of the U.S. economy with America’s 9.8 million saltwater anglers supporting 472,000 jobs and annually contributing $67.9 billion in sales impacts.
“It was wonderful to have Secretary Wilbur Ross in Florida, the ’Fishing Capital of the World,’ to see first-hand the importance of the sportfishing and boating industries not only in the state but nationwide,” Kellie Ralston, Southeast Fisheries Policy director for the American Sportfishing Association, said in a released statement.