American Saltwater Guides Association Launches with Mission to Promote Sustainable Business Through Marine Conservation
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ith the purpose of promoting sustainable business through marine conservation, a group of saltwater fishing guides and recreational fishing business owners has launched the American Saltwater Guides Association (ASGA). The ASGA is dedicated to activating and empowering the conservation-minded recreational fishing community to protect marine resources for the benefit of anglers.
The ASGA strives to provide a stronger voice and sound representation to the recreational fishing community, and intends to work with lawmakers and various fisheries management bodies by advocating for conservation through science-based management. It will focus on the positive economic impacts that accrue from management that promotes abundant fish populations and the economic harm that will inevitably result from policies that promote excessive harvest.
The organization was cofounded by Capt. John McMurray, who will serve as president, and Tony Friedrich, who will serve as vice president and policy director. Capt. McMurray is a veteran light tackle fishing guide based in New York who has more than 20-years of experience working in fisheries management, including serving on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council for nine years and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission for two. Friedrich is also a 20-year veteran in the federal and state fisheries policy arena. He began his career working in the Chesapeake Bay and has moved on to broader issues that impact the entire coast. Both have a long history of working together and supporting the use of best available science to assess and implement fisheries management.
“Healthy and abundant fish populations are an economic driver in most coastal communities in our great country,” said Capt. McMurray. “As guides, we have chosen a life that relies on abundant marine resources. We represent not only a significant portion of the fishing community’s perspective, but also a substantial portion of the fishing economy as well. We burn a lot of fuel and buy a lot of gear, and our clients stay in hotels, eat at local restaurants and keep small businesses alive. Our goal is to showcase positive economic impacts that accrue from managing our fisheries based on the economic value of abundant stocks rather than of excessive harvest, and we are uniquely positioned to do just that.”
“The recreational fishing community lacks consistent support for science-based fishery management,” said Mr. Friedrich. “By activating and uniting the recreational fishing community, led by guides and their customers, the ASGA will represent a powerful voice in fishery management moving forward. We will advocate for ‘Sustainable Business Through Marine Conservation’ and represent our members’ best interests through protection of our resources so that the next generation has the same fishing opportunities as past generations.”
The ASGA Board of Directors comprises some of the most respected light tackle guides and fishing small business people from Maine to North Carolina:
Board Chair: Peter Jenkins, The SaltwaterEdge, RI
Secretary: Capt.Taylor Ingraham Fly Caster Charters CT
Treasurer: Sue Bertoline
ME, Capt. Kyle Schaefer, Soul Fly Outfitters
NH, Capt. Peter, Whalen, Shoals Fly Fishing and Light Tackle
MA, Capt. Jamie Boyle, Boylermaker Charters
RI, Capt. Dave Monti,No Fluke Fishing
CT, Capt. Ian Devlin, Devlin Fishing
NY, Capt, Paul Dixon, To The Point Charters
NJ, Capt. Jason Dapra, Blitzbound Charters
MD, Capt. Chris Karwacki, Chesapeake on the Fly
VA, Capt. Chris Newsome, Bay Fly Fishing
NC, Capt. Tom Roller, Waterdog Guide Service
DC, Rich Farino, District Angling
“The true voice of conservation has been long overlooked in fisheries management, and we are filling that void for the guides, small business owners and like-minded anglers who focus on a long-term view rather than the short term priorities of large manufacturers and special interests,” said Mr. Jenkins, Chairman of the ASGA. “We are excited to begin addressing management shortfalls that are resulting in declining fish populations and habitat issues, and changing the lens through which our resources are managed. We invite anyone concerned with protecting marine resources to join the ASGA, whether they are fishing guides, small business owners, anglers or simply concerned citizens. We will all have better fishing through conservation.”
The organization has identified striped bass, bluefish, menhaden and the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act as initial management issues that it will focus its efforts on in the near-term.
More information about the ASGA, its mission, board members and current areas of focus can be found at www.saltwaterguidesassociation.org.