B.A.S.S. announced, along with a large coalition of angler groups, the official launch of Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation (basc), a new intuitive online advocacy system that allows fishing enthusiasts to write, call or tweet their legislators through prewritten engagements online.
"Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation is, at its core, an opportunity for fans of bass fishing and B.A.S.S. to channel their passion for all things fishing into good public policies that concern our sport," said Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO. "Right now, the fisheries policy battles in Congress are focused on saltwater fishing, but tomorrow these issues could spread to freshwater lakes, rivers, or countless other fisheries we love to fish.
"Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation was designed to give all anglers a voice and platform by which to contact lawmakers and advocate for the preservation and growth of recreational angling, and we are proud to support it. Through this new advocacy system, we hope to create a brotherhood of anglers that defends fisheries access for all anglers, regardless of where they fish."
By accessing Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation, BassforSalt.com, fishing enthusiasts can simply fill out their constituent information and contact their legislators through the method they chose. Basc then automatically identifies the appropriate legislators and provides users with talking points for a call, a prewritten letter, or even a prewritten tweet based on the user's preferences.
The timing of the debut of the website is appropriate, said B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland. He noted that the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act - the nation's primary marine fisheries law - along with three key amendments to benefit recreational fishing.
"Opportunities to change federal fisheries management policy don't come along very often," Gilliland said. "In this case the thousands of bass anglers who also fish in saltwater need to contact their congressmen today! Encourage them to vote in favor of greater recreational fishing opportunity."
Professional bass anglers also are joining the push to get freshwater fishermen more involved on issues that threaten all types of sportfishing.
"Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation isn't just for bass anglers," said Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jeff Kriet. "Many of the anglers I know fish in both salt and freshwater. The issues our coastal fisheries currently face could easily translate into freshwater if we do not take action. In order to ensure that our children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy the same fishing experiences as the anglers of today, regardless of what they fish for or where they like to fish, we must raise a unified voice to the nation's legislators. When the 33 million anglers in the U.S. come together for positive change, we are a force that cannot be ignored."
The primary threat to the future of saltwater fishing is lack of access to thriving fish stocks. One example of this is the current situation with red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. Once considered one of the most prized fish in the Gulf, red snapper's federal season was reduced to a mere nine days in 2014, and only 10 days in 2015. However, according to the National Marine Fisheries Services' own numbers, the population of Gulf Red Snapper is nearing its highest level in decades. Those who oppose recreational fishing are driving situations exactly like that of red snapper throughout America's oceans, and may soon bring the battle to freshwater fisheries. If anglers stand idly by while this happens, the opportunities to continue the sport will be greatly endangered.
Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation provides a simple, easy-to-use tool for anglers to stand up against misguided policies. As policy battles move through Congress and the federal bureaucracy, anglers and recreational fishing enthusiasts will have the ability to contact their senators and representatives, as well as cabinet members and even the President of the United States with the click of a mouse. Basc will send action alerts to anglers who sign up for the newsletter, so that anglers everywhere can stay up-to-date on the policies that affect sportfishing.