Operations Manager Report
by Sharon McKenna
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association December 2009 Newsletter)
October was a busy month here in the office, as well as out. Grant writing continues to be a focus of my time. As we receive grants, I will announce them in this column. I hope to share good news in next month's newspaper!
Tom Fote and I attended the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) Annual Summit, which was held in Rancho Bernardo, California. Eighty-one companies and organizations from the United States and Canada gathered October 28–30. Due to ongoing economic concerns facing the industry as a whole, the Summit focused on the domestic and economic markets, fisheries resource management, advocacy and the political forces that continue to impact the industry.
The keynote speaker at the Summit was Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator,
Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D. She discussed with industry leaders in attendance that she understands the importance of fishing as an economic powerhouse.
"As NOAA's Administrator, I am committed to adopting policies that will ensure that current and future generations have the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful activity," Lubchenco said during her remarks. "We are responding to the concerns expressed by your leaders that we don't pay enough attention to recreational fishing. I'm here to tell you that we do think you are important, that we will pay attention and that we will work with you. It is my intention to improve our relationship." Lubchenco further added, "I will be your champion."
She spoke about the National Ocean Policy Interim Report; the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) which NOAA intends to use in place of the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS.); and about catch share programs. JCAA member clubs should be on alert for the upcoming 120 day comment period on catch share programs. Dr. Lubchenco stated that no council would be required to implement a catch share program. Things have a tendency to change, so giving the agency our comments about ensuring that catch share, if approved at all, should not
be mandatory will help.
Another hot topic at the ASA Summit was the Obama administration's draft ocean policy issued in September: The Interim Report of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force. The concern regarding the direction of the report and the fact that fishing was not considered to be an ocean activity recognized by the task force prompted a special presentation and review of the report. Manufacturers and state government officials asked questions about the implications of the report and what it would mean for our sport. Sitting front and center during this discussion listening to the concerns in the room were top NOAA officials, including Dr. Lubchenco herself. In her subsequent speech, she stated:
"As an active participant in the task force process, I want to assure the recreational fishing community that this concern has been heard. The task force has now received significant input from anglers across the country. I am confident that when the task force releases its final report, your interests will be recognized," Lubchenco said. "I believe that recreational fishing is both an important pastime, which brings families and friends together, and an important economic activity. I am personally committed to a national policy which recognizes the importance of recreational fishing and ensures that it can continue to thrive."
Her comments reflect that she understands our concerns and she literally said that she "has our back." JCAA will remain fully engaged in this process, getting direction from our member clubs, offering public comment voted on by the general membership.
On MRIP, Dr. Lubchenco recognized our concerns about the transition and the structure of the program. After all of the issues we have faced due to MRFSS, which was never designed to be the basis for quota allocation, recreational anglers have a right to healthy skepticism.
"I understand that you and others have serious reservations about the extent to which MRIP will provide timely data," Lubchenco said of the recreational fishing industry. "Our intent is to design a data-acquisition process that meets our needs, one in which we all have confidence and one that enables us to manage recreational fishing to ensure the fishery is sustainable, the ocean is healthy and there are great fishing opportunities for your children and grandchildren."
There was a full array of high level ASA members in attendance, and the true meat of the Summit was at the Government Affairs committee meeting, which lasted 11 hours! Tom Fote is a member of that committee and offered his comments on several issues, not the least of which was the black sea bass closure "emergency action" by the Northeast region. We were fortunate to be able to discuss that and other issues with the top-level NOAA staff, including the Acting Director of the National Marine Fisheries Service, James Balsiger.
Overall, the meeting went well, but there is obvious concern throughout our industry about the economic downturn and that stimulus money is not being directed to us. There were several boat manufacturers who sat through the National Marine Manufacturers Association presentation that showed almost exclusively bad news. It is more important than ever to be actively engaged on these issues which will most certainly affect our sport for years to come. To learn more about the Interim Report of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, go here: interimreport. To learn more about MRIP, go here: mrip . To learn more about catch share programs, go here: catchshare
Reminder, in case you want to come over and talk fishing: Office hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Thursday, I will be off-site until January 7, when office hours will resume 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. as we gear up for the 16th Annual JCAA Fluke Tournament. Be on the lookout for our sponsors and entry forms, as well as high roller raffle books coming to a mailbox near you soon!
FLUKE TOURNAMENT REPORT
Mark your calendar for Saturday, June 12, 2010 for the 16th Annual JCAA Fluke Tournament. The awards ceremony will be held Friday, June 18, 2010. The Fluke Tournament planning is coming along nicely. I was fortunate to be able to attend the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) annual summit in October. Several potential sponsors for the tournament were there and between business meetings, I was able to present to them the valuable promotional opportunity that comes with sponsoring the largest one-day tournament on the East Coast.
As always, the tournament committee is in need of volunteers to get the word out about the tournament, including those who can deliver posters and entry forms to marinas and tackle shops throughout the geographic span of the tournament. One thing that sets our tournament apart is the number of door prizes we award, so we are always looking for excellent ones that promote a business connected with fishing. Last year, we handed out several "free entry" forms for tournaments that our member clubs hold throughout the year. Your club’s tournament gets some additional advertising and some lucky angler gets the family together to participate – truly a win/win. Please let me know when your club makes the decision to offer a free entry so I can share the news with our entire membership right here in this newspaper.
We have not yet nailed down a Grand Prize Sponsor and although there was a lot of enthusiasm for this year’s cash prize, we really want to get back to a boat, motor and trailer as in most of the previous tournaments. At the ASA summit, Thomas Dammrich of the National Marine Manufacturers Association presented a rather gloomy picture of the boating industry’s recovery trajectory. It is going to take ingenuity to get a boat this year and quite a bit of partnering with marinas throughout the area. Other options are on the table. For example, anyone with connections to the automobile industry, which got a shot in the arm from the Cash for Clunkers Program, can make a tax deductible contribution/donation of a vehicle as the Grand Prize Sponsor. We want to make sure we have all our sponsors and their logos by December so we can begin to advertise their involvement with our organization and its mission to represent the position of marine sport anglers, champion their causes and protect their rights in matters pertaining to fishing, fisheries, and environmental quality. This mission has never been more important than now, as you will see from several reports in this newspaper, including my own report on the ASA Summit.
We are also looking for a first place port prize sponsor. Grand Prize and port sponsors get prominent placement on our website, on all posters, banners and advertisements, on our t-shirts and in our newspapers, which reach over 4,000 anglers, policy makers and industry leaders involved in our sport.
In our next newspaper, we will begin to feature our sponsors and their prizes so you will know what you might win when you catch a doormat on June 12, 2010.
And as always, patronizing our sponsors is what makes them return to JCAA year after year. So, I know the winter is closing in, but in a blink of the eye, it’ll be fluke season and the tournament will be upon us. Thank you for your support of the JCAA. Please call me at the office at 732-506-6565 with your thoughts, ideas, suggestions, free tournament entries, etc. I am in the office every weekday except for Thursday until January 7th, when we will resume normal office hours all week long – 9 to 2 p.m.