RFA MEMBERS APPLAUD SC LEGISLATORS' REMINDER TO CONGRESS
Don't Let Recreational Fishing Get Sold Short By Our National Oceans Policy
Columbia, SC - Members of the South Carolina Chapter of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA-SC) know good legislation when they see it - and a bill introduced by South Carolina House District 15 Representative Jeff Duncan and District 14 Representative Mike Pitts deserved as much support as RFA-SC members could garner.
The legislation is a formal request by the South Carolina General Assembly for U.S Congress to take any measure within its power to mitigate or overturn any Presidential orders resulting from President Obama's Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force recommendations if the recommendations fail to ensure and promote recreational fishing and access to public waters or if the recommendations fail to include responsibly regulated recreational boating and fishing as national priorities for our oceans, coasts and lakes.
As South Carolina House of Representatives Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee Chairman, a candidate for South Carolina's Third United States Congressional District and a recreational fisherman himself, Chairman Duncan understands the looming implications if recreational fishing and access to public resources continue to not be a priority in our national coastal and marine policies.
Once RFA-SC members became interested in this legislation, it was not long before other SC House Members joined as co-sponsors, including South Carolina House District 65 Representative Jay Lucus as well as District 117 Representative Tim Scott, who is a candidate for South Carolina's First United States Congressional District along much of the state's coast.
With further increasing support and awareness of the legislation, a South Carolina Senate version of the legislation was introduced by several prominent coastal and lowcountry Senators. With the South Carolina legislative session winding down rapidly, Senators Chip Campsen, John Land, Yancey McGill and Tom Davis led the way for this legislation to be polled out of committee with an unanimous vote to do so by 17 members of the South Carolina Senate Fish, Game and Wildlife Committee, and the legislation was then adopted by the Senate and sent to the House of Representatives.
The legislation highlights recreational anglers' long history of stewardship of our natural resources as well as the overwhelming support for recreational fishing by the citizens of this country. Mentioning recreational fishing's value of over $125 billion and over 1 million jobs nationally further helps the legislation to compel Congress not to let recreational fishing be sold short by our national oceans policy. The legislation gets the real point across by warning that without its recognition as a national priority, recreational fishing opportunities could become more limited, curtailed, or even eliminated.
"RFA-SC members are lucky to have leaders like Senator Campsen and Represenative Duncan who recognize not only our state's proud heritage but also the importance of recreational fishing as a $1.5 billion industry here," said Mt. Pleasant's Mark Brown, the owner and operator of the Teaser 2, a charter sportfishing business. According to another business owner, Chris VerBurg of Charleston Marine, many legislators seemed to greatly appreciate being made aware of facts such as how South Carolina is ranked 5th in the nation in non-resident recreational fishing destinations with those non-residents spending around $370 million per year in South Carolina.
One of South Carolina's most important industries is tourism, and numerous studies have shown how recreational fishing is an industry that needs to be further enhanced in the state. Captain Jason DuBose of Hilton Head understands this as well as anyone, and Senator Tom Davis, who represents Captain DuBose's area obviously does as well.
Matt Mungo and Roger Huse, recreational anglers who travel from areas of the state hundreds of miles inland to fish in to fish in coastal waters as a pastime summed it up best, "South Carolina legislators have now proven to the rest of the country what we already knew about them as fellow recreational anglers and sportsmen."
"South Carolina has now told Congress loud and clear that recreational fishing deserves higher priority," said RFA Executive Director Jim Donofrio, adding "and we'll continue to fight for that very thing just as our members in South Carolina have."
To learn more about the RFA-SC chapter and to get involved with state initiatives, email Jim Hutchinson at RFA national headquarters at firstname.lastname@example.org.