Fishing will play crucial role in US conservation plan

A major report into ways to conserve nearly a third of the US’ land and water by 2030 says sportfishing will be a major part of the plan.

Running through many federal agencies’ Conserving And Restoring America The Beautiful report is the recognition that recreational fishing is vital to the future.

The document sets out initial suggestions about how to conserve 30 per cent of America’s waters and land by 2030 – also known as “30 by 30” – as directed by President Biden’s order to tackle the climate crisis.

The American Sportfishing Association, (ASA), the trade body representing the recreational fishing industry, is delighted the sport is being consistently lauded.

Mike Leonard, ASA’s vice-president of government affairs, said: “The 30 by 30 initiative has generated a lot of attention within the recreational fishing community, not always in a positive way, due to concerns that it will be used as a means to arbitrarily restrict recreational fishing access.

“However, we are pleased that the Biden Administration is approaching 30 by 30 with an understanding of the significant cultural, economic and conservation benefits that recreational fishing provides to the nation.”
He added: “This report is notable not only for its incorporation of many positive strategies for how 30 by 30 should be implemented, including its emphasis on increasing access for outdoor recreation, but also for what it avoids, specifically by not recommending the pursuit of protected areas in which recreational fishing might be banned without a scientific basis.”
The Conserving And Restoring America The Beautiful report outlines a decade-long challenge to pursue a locally led and voluntary nationwide effort to conserve, connect and restore the US’s lands, waters and wildlife.

Key principles include:

  • Pursuing a collaborative and inclusive approach to conservation;
  • Conserving America’s lands and waters for the benefit of all people;
  • Supporting locally led and locally designed conservation efforts;
  • Honouring tribal sovereignty and supporting the priorities of tribal nations;
  • Pursuing conservation and restoration approaches that create jobs and support healthy communities;
  • Honouring private property rights and supporting the voluntary stewardship efforts of private landowners;
  • Using science as a guide; and
  • Building on existing tools and strategies with an emphasis on flexibility and adaptive approaches.

To help identify where the nation currently stands in relation to the 30 by 30 goal, the report calls for the development of “The American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas,” which would gather information from a wide range of sources to provide a baseline assessment of how much land, ocean and other waters in the US are currently conserved or restored.

This includes existing protections and designations across the nation, as well as marine fisheries conservation measures implemented by the Regional Fishery Management Councils.

Fishing and hunting organisations have come together to form Hunt Fish 30x30 to ensure that the plan takes full account of what those in the great outdoors already contribute to conservation and how they can help further.

A statement from Hunt Fish 30x30 said: “As America’s original conservationists, the hunting and fishing community has proactively supported strategic efforts to conserve our nation’s terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems for more than a century.

“The ability to connect with our land, water and fish and wildlife through our outdoor pursuits continues to result in a deep appreciation and understanding of the link between healthy habitats and thriving fish and wildlife populations.
“We support 30 by 30 policies that are not merely aspirational, but that recognize existing management levels/actions that currently afford protections and work to identify additional conservation needs and actions through an objective, science-driven, stakeholder-engaged process to determine the appropriate level of management actions necessary to meet biodiversity conservation goals.
“Furthermore, we support 30 by 30 policies that recognise hunting and fishing as well-managed and sustainable activities that are in harmony with other management goals.

“Maintaining the sense of connection to our abundant resources and unrivalled natural beauty that these activities provide is essential to ensuring we have natural resource and biodiversity stewards for the next century, just as we have had in the past.”