Charter boat captains are preparing for the big fishing season when Americans from across the country head down to the Gulf to enjoy sunny days on the water. This favorite American pastime has long been sustained by science-based regulations ensuring fish stocks remain healthy. In addition to preserving this resource for recreation for private anglers, it ensures our small charter fishing businesses can provide for our families by taking non-boat owning Americans fishing.
Unfortunately, some large multi-national corporations are lobbying to rollback key provisions of the federal law that has allowed us to rebuild our Gulf fishery — and one is particularly disappointing. Yamaha, which makes everything from musical instruments to high quality boat motors, seems to have lost sight of the long-term importance of protecting these fisheries for future generations. We are using our purchasing power and visibility to thousands of charter customers to send a message by removing Yamaha motors from our boats, merchandise that represents $75,000 per boat.
As a result of effective federal conservation policies, the United States benefits from one of the most profitable and sustainable fisheries management systems in the world. The primary law governing marine fisheries in federal waters is the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The act uses science-based principles to establish catch limits that balance recreational and commercial fishing goals with the long-term economic viability of the nation’s fishery resources.
Unfortunately, in an effort to bolster the sales of its boat motors, Yamaha has spent extensive time and money trying to weaken the act with policies that would lead to overfishing. As charter boat captains, we have seen the destruction that a lack of smart regulations can cause and we are calling on Yamaha to stop funding rollbacks in order to ensure America will continue to have sustainable fishing opportunities and to keep our businesses afloat. We are in the fishing business for the long term, not just the next few seasons.
We need not look too far back to see a clear example of a reckless move that severely threatened a critical fishery. In September, after meeting with Yamaha and other special interest groups, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross ignored federal law and turned a blind eye to science-based decision-making by extending the recreational fishing season for Gulf red snapper from the recommended three days to 42 days. This illegal move resulted in the recreational sector ignoring catch limits and going well over what is considered healthy. In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s own estimate stated the extension could delay rebuilding red snapper stocks by up to six years and triggered millions of pounds of overfishing.
Most of us can agree the goal of fishery management should be to ensure commercial and recreational fishermen get to enjoy this great resource, while not compromising the ability of future anglers to do the same. Yamaha seems to have lost sight of this concept in favor of focusing on its fiscal bottom line.
As passionate fishermen and small business leaders, we encourage Yamaha to do the right thing and support policies that will allow Americans to continue to have robust fisheries for generations to come. Whether you play Yamaha instruments, ride a Yamaha motorcycle, own a Yamaha outboard, or just care about our oceans, you should join us in calling on the company to clean up its act and stop meddling in American fishing policies.