On Tuesday, February 9th the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife held an oversight hearing entitled, “Federal Interactions with State Management of Fish and Wildlife.” Panelists included Ronald J Regan, Executive Director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; Doug Vincent-Lang, Former Director of the Alaska Division of Wildlife Conservation, testifying on behalf of Safari Club International; and Donald Barry, Senior Vice President/Conservation Program, of the Defenders of Wildlife. The hearing highlighted the critical nature of the interconnected relationship between the states and the federal government in the wise and thoughtful management of the nation’s habitat and fish and wildlife as well as the real degradation of that mission when state and federal partnerships become strained and caustic. The recreational boating and fishing community cares deeply about the health and balance of these governmental partnerships as members of the regulated community. In fact, NMMA and its partners have worked diligently over many years to develop close working relationships with various state fish and wildlife agencies as well as with partners at the federal level, especially the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in our own right because we believe that such partnerships foster public policy decisions that benefit not only our natural resources, but communities, like ours, that thrive on access to those resources for our very way of life.
However, in recent years the federal government appears to be outstripping its state government partners and making unilateral public policy decisions that aren’t always supported by the facts and, in some instances, are hurting the rights of boaters and anglers to access our collective natural resources. For example, the recent National Park Service’s proposed General Management Plan which would usurp state fisheries management authority in Key Biscayne National Park is troubling at best. We believe Chairman Inhofe says it best in his testimony Tuesday that, “…states fund much of their conservation and management programs through local [motor boat fuel and fishing equipment] excise taxes, but they also have more on-the-ground expertise about local populations. Therefore, states should have a significant role in working with the federal government and the private sector to ensure the most sensible fish and wildlife management programs are adopted and implemented.” Since access to our natural resources is the lifeblood of our collective community anything that threatens the delicate balances that have been created is real cause for concern. NMMA will continue to follow this issue closely and will keep members apprised of all future updates. For more information contact Jeff Gabriel at [email protected] or call (202) 737-9776.