View Full Version : Freedom to Fish Act HR 2890

Slay Ride
03-01-2004, 03:23 PM
In my limited research, I have learned that this act was lost because of Sept 11 as there were more pressing issues. Now it is trying to build some steam in the House.

For people who have not read it, the bill seems to make the feds liable for submission of quality data for implementing MPA's. Limited lifetimes and mandates that if a fishery be closed if "recreational fishing is the cause of a specific conservation problem." That sounds like if commerical longlining depletes a stock, then the recreational guys are not liable and action taken towards them. No MPA's mean we can spearfish almost anywhere I would guess. And does not make us pay (lower limits and seasons) for abuse of a fishery that was not cause by us to start with.

For the guys who have read this bill, what's the drawback? It seems that this might be a true accountablility bill in our favor. It's seems as though it's going to be up to congress, but if we think it's a good cause, should we let our congressmen know about it?

Anyone have any thoughts? It's a federal bill so everyone will be affected. Les

03-02-2004, 06:20 PM
do you have a copy of the bill? becouse what you say so far it sounds like a great thing to put into law.

03-03-2004, 08:00 AM

Do you have any web links that could provide more background/detail?



03-03-2004, 08:24 AM
Here's what I found when I did a search.

03-03-2004, 08:38 AM
The Freedom to Fish Act (H.R. 2890)
As introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives
July 24, 2003

To protect the public's ability to fish for sport, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

This Act may be cited as the ‘Freedom to Fish Act.’

The Congress makes the following findings:

(1) Recreational fishing is traditionally one of the most popular outdoor sports with more than 50,000,000 participants of all ages, in all regions of the country.

(2) Recreational fishing makes a substantial contribution to the local, State, and national economies. According to the most recent economic figures, recreational fishing infuses $116,000,000,000 annually into the national economy. Nationally, over 1,200,000 jobs are related to recreational fishing; this represents approximately 1 percent of the nation's entire civilian work force. For those communities and small businesses that rely on seasonal tourism, the expenditures of recreational anglers result in substantial benefits to the local economies.

(3) Recreational anglers have long demonstrated a conservation ethic through their support of reasonable fisheries management laws and regulations including minimum size requirements, possession limits, and seasonal closures, as well as through their voluntary practice of catch-and-release fishing when appropriate.

(4) In addition to payment of Federal excise taxes on fishing equipment, motorboats, and fuel, as well as license fees, recreational anglers contribute over $500,000,000 annually to State fisheries conservation management programs and projects.

(5) It is a long-standing policy of the Federal Government to allow public access to public lands and waters for recreational purposes consistent with sound conservation. This policy is reflected in the National Forest Management Act of 1976, the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, the Wilderness Act, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978.

(6) In most instances, recreational fishery resources can be maintained through a variety of management measures including minimum size requirements, possession limits, and seasonal closures, without restricting public access to places to fish.

(7) Comprehensive standards must be established to demonstrate to the public that recreational fishing can be managed effectively without unnecessarily closing marine waters and to direct the implementation, use, and monitoring of marine protected areas.

Consistent with sound marine conservation, it is the policy of the Congress in this Act—

(1) to create standards to direct the implementation, use, and monitoring of marine protected areas;

(2) to ensure that all Federal regulations promote open access for recreational fishing to the maximum extent practicable;

(3) to ensure that recreational anglers will be actively involved in any regulatory procedures that contemplate restrictions on their access to places to fish ; and

(4) to ensure that whenever access to fishing places is restricted, the restricted areas are as small as scientifically necessary to provide for the conservation of the fishery resource.

Section 303(a) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1853(a)) is amended—

(1) by striking ‘and’ after the semicolon in paragraph (13);

(2) by striking ’fishery.’ in paragraph (14) and inserting ‘fishery; and;’; and

(3) by adding at the end the following:

“(15) not establish areas closed to recreational fishing unless—

‘(A) there is a clear indication that recreational fishermen are the cause of a specific conservation problem and that less severe conservation measures, including minimum size requirements, possession limits, seasonal closures, or gear restrictions, will not adequately provide for conservation and management of the affected stocks of fish as determined by the appropriate Regional Fishery Management Council;

‘(B) the closed area regulation includes specific measurable criteria to determine the conservation benefit of the closed area on the affected stocks of fish and provides a timetable for periodic review of the continued need for the closed area at least once every 3 years;

‘(C) the closed area is no larger than that which is supported by the best available scientific information; and

‘(D) provisions are made to reopen the closed area to recreational fishing whenever the basis of the closure no longer exists.’.

03-03-2004, 09:03 AM
On the freedomtofish home page there is a place to enter your zipcode to email your elected official. You will then be re-directed to another website that has the option to email all of the officials at the same time. Below is the letter provided or you have the choice to write your own.
I am writing as your constituent, a voter, and a recreational angler who cares deeply about the environment. I would like to share my concern about an important conservation tool – the recreational angler - that is being ignored in favor of extreme protected areas that unnecessarily ban public access including recreational fishing.

Everyone can agree to abundant fish, rich habitat, and clean water. But I believe conserving our state’s rich aquatic resources starts with the angler and should involve fishing bans only as a last resort. Protections are needed to protect our resources, but there should be firm guidelines and standards to safeguard our intertwined traditions of fishing and conservation.

I support the provisions of the Freedom To Fish Act. They reflect the principles of our great wildlife refuges, national forests, national parks, and wilderness areas. These laws clearly acknowledge that one of the main reasons we conserve natural resources is to ensure American citizens can continue to enjoy them through outdoor recreation. Through these laws we have recognized that conservation and recreation go hand-in-hand in all but the most extreme cases.

I urge you to stand up to those that seek to cut anglers out of the conservation process. I hope you will consider sponsoring the Freedom To Fish legislation.
Get your mom, dad, brother, sister, cousin, aunt, uncle, and family dog to send out a letter. It's really simple, just click a few buttons, fill in your name and address and hit send.
The more letters that get sent, the better the chances are that this bill won't get pushed aside.

03-03-2004, 09:44 AM
Nice work, Speargun. Thanks for doing some of the hunting.
This is one of many issues that we have before us.

Slay Ride
03-03-2004, 10:05 AM
Thanks Speargun. Just got back to my computer. I did that and wrote a letter as well. I've had multiple conversations with guys at the RFA (Recreation Fishing Alliance) and they're trying to get some other members of the house to co-sponsor. I'm going to try vigilantly to contact Henry Brown (SC Rep) to sign on. I beleive TX and NJ are already on board. Maybe if we let our legislators know it's important to us, they'll take interest. It looks like a good bill to support. Anyone have any other insights?

03-03-2004, 04:58 PM
The NJ Bill has been butchered to include the commercial fishing industry. In almost every State the commercials are vying for a piece of the action and the enviros are screaming. We are either going to have to allow the commercials on board or lose the chance to stop MPAs. You can view the NJ Bill at:


Slay Ride
03-04-2004, 08:22 AM
njdiver. I was under the impression it was a federal law for mandation offshore (3 or 12km?) outside state waters. Does NJ have a similar state act being proposed. I'd like to find out if there are other states doing the same. I can see why the commercial guys would be against MPA's and if we have to go along with that, is that the end of the world? By the wording of the bill, it would put provisions (if the commercials catch 98% of the grouper and the stock is depleted, the recreational bag is not affected). That was my take on the initial readings and talking with the RFA guys. Maybe I'm off base, that's what we all need to know. Keep up the discussion, I think it's an imporatant step. There's no good spearfishing in State Waters in SC, so I'm really trying to be active on a Federal level. Les

Slay Ride
03-04-2004, 08:28 AM
After reading that, I don't see where it is skewed towards the commercials. It seems very similar to the HR2890 and basically says that there must be scientific data to close an area for fishing and limits on time of that. Maybe I'm off base, but it looks like a start to at least limit MPA's in general. I though can see why commercial would be for the Act. It doesn't address accountability for WHO depleted stocks. Is that the deal? Good discussion guys.

03-04-2004, 09:30 AM
OK. This may sound like a dumb question to some of you, but I have heard a couple of different answers.

1) How far offshore do state water extend?
2) How far out do federal waters extend?
3) Is it different for the Gulf and the Atlantic?


03-04-2004, 04:51 PM
Just arrogant answers.

1. Three miles.

2. Two hundred, for fisheries purposes.

3. No.

03-04-2004, 05:05 PM
Originally posted by Speargun
OK. This may sound like a dumb question to some of you, but I have heard a couple of different answers.

1) How far offshore do state water extend?
2) How far out do federal waters extend?
3) Is it different for the Gulf and the Atlantic?


1) 3 Miles in the Atlantic, 9 Miles in the Gulf
2) 200 Miles
3) Yes

03-04-2004, 08:10 PM
The Recreational Fishing Alliance has introduced the F2F at the State level in all coastal State Legislatures of the US, NJ was the first. The New Jersey Council of Diving Clubs asked that the Bills be amended to include spearfishing by deleting any reference to anglers. The "Commercials” then demanded any reference to recreational be deleted to include all fishing. One of the major recreational fishing organizations in NJ the Jersey Coast Anglers Association has pulled their support of the present NJ Assembly version of the F2F Act, sighting that commercial interests have been regulated differently from recreational due to “spatial conflicts or long-term protection for a stock”. I have several of their articles and letters if you would like details. Your own State of South Carolina had a Bill introduced last year, TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION 50-1-75 SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT RECREATIONAL FISHING IN THE MARINE WATERS OF THIS STATE SHALL NOT BE CLOSED TO ROD AND REEL FISHING EXCEPT UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS. Try this site for the full text: http://www.scstatehouse.net/sess115_2003-2004/bills/4119.htm

03-04-2004, 08:14 PM
I'm curious, where are you quoting the nine miles in the Gulf from?

Bottom Dweller
03-04-2004, 10:06 PM

I too believe it is 9 miles from the line of demarcation in the gulf. The gambling boats believe it too.:D

03-05-2004, 12:30 PM
1. Three miles.
2. Two hundred, for fisheries purposes.
3. No.
1) 3 Miles in the Atlantic, 9 Miles in the Gulf
2) 200 Miles
3) Yes
See what I mean? The most common response I have heard is 3 mi. Atlantic and 9 or 12 mi. in the Gulf.

On the 200 mi. topic, I'm sure there is more to it than that. For example, how does it work south of the keys? I'm sure that, as much as the U.S. would like too, they can't control the fisheries in Cuba.

03-09-2004, 03:14 PM
State jurisdiction in the Gulf of Mexico is 9 miles offshore for Florida and Texas and 3 miles for Al, MS, and LA.
The Federal 200 mile limit is common to most nations and where the two countries are closer than 400 miles apart the jurisdictional lines are drawn midway between the two countries.

03-12-2004, 08:27 AM
Thanks Doug. Even the simple stuff is confusing. I just got back from a council meeting and my head is spinning! Essential Fish Habitat? 1000 pages? Private contractor from the Neherlands???
This is one big game. If you are not in the game every day, you can easily lose your place. Joing the FRA will bring you into the loop and keep you current, without you having to hunt down the sources and read all of the documents. Email alerts, constant involvement with fisheries management panels and agencies, letter and email campaigns, public input notifications and more will be yours with your membership in the FRA.

03-29-2004, 08:55 PM
Rhode Island, has passed a F2F law.


Other States are struggling. Here in New Jersey we have the recreational fishermen fighting over the bill with the commercial fishermen, as well as the different recreational organizations debating whether to pull the present bill due to the elimination to any recreational references. As it stands now the bill protects all fishing,


I will be attending meetings most of the afternoon and evening on Wednesday and will let you know what I have heard. The evening meeting is expecting people from the Ocean Conservancy and Coastal Ocean Coalition to make a presentation against both the Federal and State bills. The organization hosting has been on record in favor of both.

Just found this page:


Gives an overall of the various State and Federal bills' statuses.

04-01-2004, 05:05 PM
What does it take to convince a scientist that what might work in one area just might not work in another? The scientist from the Ocean Conservancy just didn't get it. What might work in the Channel Islands in CA or the reefs in Florida just isn't practical for the waters off NJ. Shame he wasn't in shackles. He just didn't want to understand that the very few sites of hard habitat, wrecks and artificial reefs that are all we have for fish and invertebrates to mass around are far and few between. Even the artificial reefs that we and the recreational fisherman have paid to have cleaned and towed and dumped are not more than a tiny fraction of the sandy ocean floor. Even when they are placed over a small area they do not support each other as they are not placed so close together as to be able to have migration from an over stocked neighbor. At the end of their presentation the Chairman suggested that if they would like to create a “no take zone” MPA in NJ waters, they could obtain, clean, transport and sink an artificial reef of their own specifically for that purpose. They declined the offer!

04-01-2004, 05:15 PM
Originally posted by njdiver
What does it take to convince a scientist that what might work in one area just might not work in another? The scientist from the Ocean Conservancy just didn't get it.
What a surprise :rolleyes: .
Hired guns don't shoot their employers.