The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) is urging U.S. saltwater anglers to help protect access rights for New England’s cod and haddock anglers and the local recreational fishing businesses who depend on those fishermen.

An RFA fax campaign is now underway to urge the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) to oppose any changes to the Western Gulf of Maine closed area which would completely restrict angler access.

Click here to download a copy of the letter, or go to the top of the RFA homepage at www.joinrfa.org to learn more. Anglers and recreational fishing industry leaders are urged to print the letter, sign it, and fax to the attention of the NEFMC’s Tom Nies at 978-465-3116.

NEFMC is considering taking habitat protection measures which will result in new closed areas for charter/party and recreational anglers as the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary wishes to conduct a research effort in a 55-square-mile “reference area” off the New England coast. The letter to NEFMC which RFA urges all anglers to support says that if the reference area is put into place, anglers will be forced to travel up to 40 nautical miles from shore to find a few cod and haddock for the table, a proposal which will have a devastating impact on our recreational fishing community.

At the RFA homepage, be sure to check on the Sept/Oct 2013 newsletter on the top-right side of the page, and an article on page 21 from Capt. Barry Gibson regarding this proposed Sanctuary Ecological Research Area, or SERA II.

“Party and charter skippers, particularly those who run out of ports along Massachusetts’ South Shore and Cape Cod, are especially upset because the proposed reference area is where they are now forced to fish on many trips,” Gibson writes in his article. “Sector management, implemented by the NEFMC a couple of years ago, has allowed big draggers to work the top of Stellwagen Bank for cod, an area where the party and charter boats have historically done very well.”

“Those cod have all been caught there,” says Capt. Tom DePersia of Bigfish Charters out of Green Harbor. “They never should have allowed the draggers on top of the bank. They’ve ruined it for everyone else.”

The RFA believes the latest proposal to exclude recreational anglers from the Western Gulf of Maine Closed Area where we’ve been fishing sustainably for the past two decades would essentially put the recreational fishing community in ruin – hopefully a ‘fax’ campaign will let NEFMC and the U.S. Commerce Department know that recreational fishing is of major socioeconomic importance to the New England region and throughout the country.

Logo courtesy Recreational Fishing Alliance

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