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U.S. Department of the Interior & U.S. Department of Agriculture Agencies Sign Unprecedented MOU with Fishing and Boating Industry
MOU Focuses on Recruitment, Retention & Reactivation Activities to Increase Overall Participation
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ALEXANDRIA, VA (Monday, October 30, 2017) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) today announced a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF). The unprecedented MOU, signed just after U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke declared October will officially be recognized as National Hunting and Fishing Month, was created to develop and expand cooperation among the participating parties for planning and implementing mutually-beneficial projects and activities to promote recreational fishing and boating conducted on public lands and waterways.

"Anglers and recreational boaters help bolster many local economies in the pursuit of these American pastimes," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. "We want to make sure to encourage more people to cast out their lines and get their boats out on the water. Partnerships like this are vital as we work to increase access to public lands and waters and pass on these traditions to future generations.​"

“Recreational fishing and boating are fundamental aspects of America’s outdoor recreation and conservation heritage, and are great ways for people to connect with family and friends,” said Greg Sheehan, Principal Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We look forward to working with all of our partners to continue to increase the number of anglers as well as opportunities for the public to get out and enjoy America’s healthy aquatic resources. As a lifelong angler, I understand the importance of building strong partner relationships to further the opportunities for fishing by all."

“This agreement is a natural fit for the Bureau of Land Management,” said acting BLM Director Michael D. Nedd. “We manage more than 132,000 miles of fishable rivers and three million acres of lakes and reservoirs--many of which offer truly world-class recreational opportunities.”

“The Forest Service has a long history of working with partners to promote fishing and boating on public lands,” said Deputy Chief of National Forest System, Leslie Weldon. “With over 10 million acres of lakes and reservoirs and 220,000 miles of fishable rivers and streams, the National Forests and Grasslands are the perfect place to connect with the outdoors. This MOU will help us work as partners to provide excellent access and facilities for people to enjoy."

The objective of the MOU is to promote angler recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) activities with the goal of increasing the current 47 million recreational fishing participants in the U.S. ages 6+ to 60 million at the end of 60 months, or by 2021. Dubbed ‘60 in 60’ by RBFF, the initiative was launched in April 2016.

Some efforts that may take place because of the MOU include increased volunteerism on public lands, improved quality of aquatic and riparian resources, improved recreational fishing experiences, and increased educational programs for recreational fishing and fisheries.

“Outdoor recreation is one of this nation’s largest economic engines. This agreement shows a great commitment to connecting millions of Americans to the outdoors by working with the fishing and boating industry and the larger conservation community,” said Ron Regan, Executive Director of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. “State fish and wildlife agencies are eager to work with our federal and NGO partners to increase overall fishing and boating participation and recognize the essential role boaters and anglers play in supporting and funding conservation and outdoor recreation nationwide.”

“Fisheries conservation and management in the U.S. is largely paid for by anglers and boaters,” said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman. “Through the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which is primarily funded by excise taxes attributable to fishing tackle and motorboat fuel, approximately $600 million is distributed annually to all 50 states for fishery projects, boating access and aquatic education. Increasing the number of people fishing and boating is essential for healthy fish and clean waters.”

“The MOU provides a tremendous opportunity to work together with our partners in the outdoors and the Department of the Interior to ensure sufficient access and conservation of our nation’s public waterways,” said NMMA President, Thom Dammrich. “Waterway access and conservation are critical to recreational boating—an industry made up of nearly 650,000 people who help deliver an estimated $121 billion in annual economic impact in the U.S. each year.”

The MOU will further advance what was a strong first year for ’60 in 60’ in which fishing participation among Americans age 6+ increased by 1.5 million according to the 2017 Special Report on Fishing, along with increases in key growth segments for the industry including youth and Hispanics. The recently-released USFWS 2016 National Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation national survey also revealed an increase in fishing participation – up 8.2% over the last five years among Americans ages 16+. In addition, the survey revealed fishing participation is up nearly 20% over the last 10 years and reached its highest mark since 1991.

In a new Recreational Boating Participation Study from NMMA, Discover Boating, and RBFF, 142 million Americans went boating in 2016. Of the 142 million individuals, 17 million were first-time participants, and half these first-time participants were children under the age of 18. Fishing remains the number one activity done from a boat.

“Fishing and boating participation numbers look good right now, but with all of the demographic changes taking place in our country, and the rapidly-growing use of technology, we’ve all got to up our game,” said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. “This partnership is a fantastic start to a cooperative effort on the national, regional and local level to ensure fishing and boating participation thrive for years to come, supporting critical state agency wildlife management efforts.”

The detailed MOU can be viewed online.

About the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit www.fws.gov, or connect with us through any of these social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube.

About the Bureau of Land Management
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any federal agency. This land is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield.

About the U.S. Forest Service
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains world-renowned forestry research and wildland fire management organizations. National forests and grasslands contribute more than $30 billion to the American economy annually and support nearly 360,000 jobs. These lands also provide 30 percent of the nation’s surface drinking water to cities and rural communities; approximately 60 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System.

About the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies
Founded in 1902, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies is the professional organization that serves as the collective voice of North America’s fish and wildlife agencies. Our mission is to support and advocate for state, provincial and territorial authority for fish and wildlife conservation and to assist those agencies in promoting science-based resource management in collaboration with public and private partners.      

The Association represents member agencies on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key conservation and management policies to ensure fish and wildlife priorities are addressed and to secure broader, sustainable funding for fish and wildlife conservation. The Association also facilitates collaborative partnerships to enable conservation delivery on a national and international scale and we provide coordination services, technical assistance and leadership development opportunities to help foster the future of natural resource conservation.

About the American Sportfishing Association (ASA)
ASA is the sportfishing industry's trade association committed to representing the interests of the sportfishing and boating industries as well as the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry and anglers a unified voice when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. ASA invests in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous, as well as safeguard and promote the enduring economic, conservation and social values of sportfishing in America. ASA also gives America's 46 million anglers a voice in policy decisions that affect their ability to sustainably fish on our nation's waterways through Keep America Fishing®, our national angler advocacy campaign. America's anglers generate more than $48 billion in retail sales with a $115 billion impact on the nation's economy creating employment for more than 828,000 people.

About the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA)
The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is the leading trade organization for the North American recreational boating industry. NMMA member companies produce more than 80 percent of the boats, engines, trailers, marine accessories and gear used by millions of boaters in North America. The association serves its members and their sales and service networks by improving the business environment for recreational boating including providing domestic and international sales and marketing opportunities, reducing unnecessary government regulation, decreasing the cost of doing business, and helping grow boating participation. As the largest producer of boat and sport shows in the U.S., NMMA connects the recreational boating industry with the boating consumer year-round. Learn more at www.nmma.org.

About the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF)
RBFF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating, thereby protecting and restoring the nation’s aquatic natural resources. RBFF developed the award-winning Take Me Fishing™ and Vamos A Pescar™ campaigns to create awareness around boating, fishing and conservation, and educate people about the benefits of participation. Take Me Fishing and Vamos A Pescar help boaters and anglers of all ages and experience levels learn, plan and equip for a day on the water. The campaign websites, TakeMeFishing.org, and VamosAPescar.org, feature how-to videos, information on how to get a fishing license and boat registration, and an interactive state-by-state map that allows visitors to find local boating and fishing spots.

For further information: Stephanie Vatalaro, svatalaro@rbff.org, 703-778-5156

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