Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April 30th is the Deadline to Apply for Cohort 9 of the National Conservation Leadership Institute

Today’s conservation leaders are starting to retire – who will fill their seats?

The National Conservation Leadership Institute (NCLI) is calling for state fish and wildlife agencies, federal conservation agencies, Tribes, industry and non-governmental organizations in the natural resources community to nominate their “rising stars” or individuals with high potential for leveraging their leadership capacity to be considered for acceptance as a Fellow for Cohort 9 starting in Fall 2014.

Online applications for are due by April 30, 2014, and applicants must be nominated by their organization's chief executive.

The NCLI was created to train tomorrow’s conservation leaders in the latest leadership thinking and practice, and each Fellow will focus on a variety of issues, including a specific leadership challenge from each participant’s own agency or organization. Becoming an NCLI Fellow is a major step in career advancement and contributing to the future of conservation. 

Visit www.conservationleadership.org for further information on the nomination process. The NCLI was established by the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agency’s Management Assistance Team. 

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The Management Assistance Team (MAT) is the Association's most unique and diverse program. Located at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV, MAT is a leadership development resource for the nation's fish and wildlife agencies. MAT is responsible for program development and administration of the National Conservation Leadership Institute.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

AFWA Urges President Obama to Improve Coordination with State Fish and Wildlife Agencies on the Administration’s Energy, Climate and Natural Resource Conservation Policies

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday asking him to pause and better integrate state fish and wildlife agency considerations into his Administration’s energy, climate and conservation initiatives and processes to avoid unintended consequence to the management of the nation’s fish and wildlife resources.

In the letter, AFWA extends its appreciation to the President for promoting the outdoor recreational economy and natural resource conservation, particularly America’s Great Outdoors and the administration’s Climate Action Plan.

However, the Association expresses concern over the need and desire for improved coordination with state agencies on several of the President’s priorities including Executive Order 13604 on Improving Performance of Federal Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects; the U.S. Department of Energy’s Quadrennial Assessment; the clean energy economy and similar initiatives. Through greater alignment, early in the planning process, state and federal agencies can ensure they do not work at cross-purposes, and that fish and wildlife resources are conserved in the Administration’s “All of the Above Energy Strategy.”

AFWA’s letter requests a meeting with the President’s senior advisors on energy, the environment and climate change to discuss perspectives and determine a collaborative path forward.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

AFWA Joins the Recreational Fishing and Boating Community in Calling on Congress to Revamp Marine Fisheries Management

Leaders map out path for federal marine fisheries conservation. 

Congress is currently revising the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, the law that governs our nation’s marine resources. Recreational saltwater anglers and the sportfishing and boating industries are intensifying efforts to ensure that their social, conservation and economic priorities are well represented in the legislative process.

Today, in a series of meetings on Capitol Hill, the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management co-chairs, Johnny Morris, founder and CEO, Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president, Maverick Boats, briefed members of Congress and media on the commission’s recommended changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The commission, composed of scientists, former agency administrators, environmentalists, industry representatives and economists, wants to ensure that saltwater recreational fishing becomes a priority of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service.

“Our commission offers a clear path to better stewardship of America’s marine fishery resources,” said Morris. “Today we ask Congress to join us on that path. We extend the invitation on behalf of all current anglers and future generations of anglers who will enjoy our nation’s resources for many years to come.”

Previewed in February during the 2014 Progressive Miami International Boat Show in Miami, Fla., A Vision for Managing America’s SaltwaterRecreational Fisheries outlines recreational fisheries management issues that need to be addressed in the Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization.

“This is the first time that the recreational fishing and boating community has set forth a comprehensive vision,” Deal said. “I’m honored to be a part of this effort and proud to help lead our collective industries in ensuring that Congress hears our voices.”
The economic impact of saltwater angling in the U.S. is considerable. In 2011, approximately 11 million Americans saltwater fished recreationally, spending $27 billion in pursuit of their sport. That activity generated more than $70 billion in economic output and sustained 450,000 jobs. Anglers contribute more than $1.5 billion annually to fisheries habitat and conservation via excise taxes, donations and license fees alone.

Throughout 2013, members of the blue ribbon commission met to deliberate and debate strategies to improve saltwater recreational fisheries management. A wide range of experts and other stakeholders, including economists, scientists, federal and state agency administrators, environmentalists, charter captains and individual recreational anglers, were invited to meet with the commission to provide information and advice on a variety of fisheries management issues. The report reflects their input.

“Our nation’s marine fisheries and their management needs vary widely from Alaska to Florida to coastal New England. Reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act is important to the stateside toolbox for delivery of conservation- and recreation-based marine fisheries programs,” said Ron Regan, executive director of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. “We commend the Morris-Deal Report for its thoughtful groundwork in thinking through visionary improvements for the future, including stock rebuilding timelines.”

“We look forward to increasing state flexibility in meeting their marine fisheries conservation objectives through reauthorization of the Act.”

“The Magnuson-Stevens Act established a management system for commercial fisheries, which has made great strides in ending commercial overexploitation of our marine fisheries,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “However, for more than three decades it has focused primarily on commercial fishing. It’s time for Congress to do something for saltwater recreational fishing.”

A Vision for Managing America’s SaltwaterRecreational Fisheries identifies six key policies that would achieve the commission’s vision. Those recommendations primarily focus on the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

The recommendations include:
  • Establishing a national policy for recreational fishing
  • Adopting a revised approach to saltwater recreational fisheries management
  • Allocating marine fisheries for the greatest benefit to the nation
  • Creating reasonable latitude in stock rebuilding timelines
  • Codifying a process for cooperative management
  • Managing for the forage base

"Congress should establish a national policy to promote saltwater recreational fishing,” said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association. “In addition, Congress must open the ‘rusted-shut’ door of marine fisheries allocation to achieve the greatest benefit to the nation.”

> Comment on this landmark report via Twitter #MarineVision2014. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thank You Hunters, Sport Shooters, Anglers and Boaters for Financially Supporting State Fish and Wildlife Conservation in 2014

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will distribute nearly $1.1 billion in excise tax revenues to state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies to fund conservation through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Trust Funds are not taxpayer dollars derived through federal income taxes. These funds are raised through excise taxes levied on bows and arrows; guns and ammunition; fishing tackle and equipment; and electric outboard motors and motor boat fuels. The taxes are paid upfront by manufacturers, producers and importers of taxable equipment, and in turn, paid for by sportsmen and women.

The financial support from America’s hunting, shooting sports, fishing and boating community through their purchases of taxable gear and hunting and fishing licenses is the lifeblood for funding fish and wildlife conservation, comprising approximately 80% of a state fish and wildlife agency’s annual budget.

According to DOI, the total distributions to state agencies this year are $238.4 million higher than last year because of the inclusion of funds that were not distributed in 2013 because of the government sequester, as well as an increase in excise tax receipts from sales of firearms and ammunition in the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund.

The Wildlife Restoration Program apportionment for 2014 is a record $760.9 million. The Sport Fish Restoration Program apportionment for 2014 is $325.7 million, which is lower than last year’s due to lower domestic fishing equipment excise tax receipts.

State agencies use Wildlife Restoration Trust Funds to reintroduce declining species; survey wildlife populations; conduct species research; provide hunter education; acquire wildlife habitat; and develop public shooting ranges.

State agencies depend on Sport Fish Restoration Trust Funds to fund fish research; reintroduce declining sport fish species; restore aquatic habitat such as coastal wetlands; offer aquatic education; construct boat ramps and fishing piers; and provide boating access.

All told, the Trust Funds benefit every American by providing cleaner and healthier environments, public safety education and access for outdoor recreation.

According to data from the latest national survey, wildlife-related recreation was a $145-billion dollar economic driver enjoyed by 90 million people—38% of the U.S. population age 16 and older—in 2011. This level of outdoor activity and Americans’ spending on taxable gear and trip-related expenses supports thousands of jobs in industries and businesses connected to fishing, hunting, recreational shooting, boating and the observance of wildlife, especially in rural communities.