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A TIME OF CHANGE

Editorial

    There is one constant in the world, and that is change. For us here at the Big Game Fishing Journal, we have two changes to announce.
    The first is a tremendous positive: the launch of our digital edition.
    The second is one we announce with some sadness: the departure of Jim Hutchinson Jr. as the author of the Political Angler column.
    The launch of our digital edition is a benefit to our subscribers, as access is only available with a subscription to the print magazine. It's a move we are proud to make, giving our tech-savvy readers the ability to read the magazine on tablets or computers, like so many other publications.
    Active subscribers will receive a link to the digital magazine, which will allow you to connect with the websites of our advertisers and get a better look at the photos, and that is just for starters.
    While we have joined the tech world with this move, we remain loyal to our print-loving fans.
    Speaking of loyalty, there are few people whose loyalty to fishermen is as strong as that of Jim Hutchinson Jr. For as long as I have known him, he has been a staunch defender of our right to fish. Before he began writing Political Angler for the Journal, he advocated for fishermen at every turn from his post at The Fisherman magazine.
    He took that advocacy and turned it into a full-time pursuit for the last six years, working for the Recreational Fishing Alliance, which has defended and promoted access for anglers for years.
    After six years prowling the halls of Congress and meeting with anglers across the country to help them make their voices heard, Jim has returned to the publishing world and The Fisherman. Their gain — you can be sure he will continue to be a vocal advocate for our industry — is our loss, but Journal readers are fortunate in that we will get one more look at the political issues facing our industry through Jim's eyes in the May/June issue of the Journal, when Jim's final Political Angler column will appear.
    The timing of Jim's return to publishing comes just as NOAA Fisheries releases its National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy, which the agency has been working on for several months. The product in part of the Morris-Deal Commission, which advocated for recognizing the different and important needs of recreational fishing from commercial fishing as saltwater fisheries management moves forward with the reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
    The National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy, which you can view at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/management/recreational/policy/index.html, says: The policy, released at the annual Progressive Insurance Miami Boat Show in mid-February, goes on to innumerate a number of ways that NOAA Fisheries will work with recreational fisheries to ensure they are properly considered in the development of management policies that support ecosystems while promoting access.
    NOAA, in a news release, said the policy, "crafted with input from recreational fishing and boating communities, conservation organizations and managers across the nation, reflects anglers’ voices on a number of existing and emerging concerns, including public access, resource stewardship, regulatory education, science innovation and better lines of communication between state and federal rulemakers with the community.
    "Recreational fishermen’s input directly helped to formulate the policy’s goals, which include: *Supporting and maintaining sustainable saltwater recreational fisheries resources, including marine and estuarine habitats; *Promoting saltwater recreational fishing for the social, cultural and economic benefit of the nation; and *Enabling enduring participation in, and enjoyment of, saltwater recreational fisheries through science-based conservation and management.
    A plan for implementing the policy will be released by mid-May, NOAA Fisheries said, with regional implementation plans to follow.
    Recreational fishing supports 381,000 jobs and generates $58 billion in annual sales impacts, according to a NOAA 2012 report. The National Marine Manufacturers Association reports recreational boating is a $36.8 billion industry and creates more than 338,526 marine industry jobs, supporting 34,833 businesses.
    Jim Hutchinson Jr., in this issue of the Journal, says the signs coming out of Washington are hinting at positive changes, enough that he says he is "cautiously optimistic about the future of our sport and our recreational fishing industry as a whole."
    If so, it's long overdue, but it's worth celebrating the hard work of those who have stood up for and continue to stand up for our right to fish.
    Some folks fear change. But not all change is bad. And just like our move to join the digital era, the thought that NOAA Fisheries is moving toward a positive attitude toward recreational fishing and what the industry means to our nation, economically and as a whole — is a change to embrace.




Karen Wall

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