A lot going on the past few months, so I will get right to it. The 6th Annual Congressional Fly-In sponsored by The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) was a huge success. I attended the two-day event with more than 50 shooting sports industry executives and members from many industry affiliations.
The timing coincided with the US Senate’s attempt to pass the Manchin-Toomey amendment, further restricting our use of firearms and accessories. Splitting up into small working groups, we visited many Senators and House Representatives over two days voicing our opposition, and watched on as the Senate and President Obama failed in their attempt to pass this amendment. Our time and efforts were well spent. I’m looking forward to next years Fly-In with NSSF planned for April 2-4, 2014.
A few weeks later Big Rock was invited to help represent the recreational fishing industry and participate in a three-day conference in Washington, DC, on “Managing Our Nation’s Fisheries.” Sponsored by NOAA, it was focused on the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which is the primary law governing marine fisheries management in the US. This was the third conference on this Act, with over 500 attendees, and many more on the waiting list. Also in attendance with me representing the recreational fishing sector were Mike Nussman and Mike Leonard of the American Sportfishing Association, and leading industry advocates Jim Martin from Pure Fishing and Bill Shedd from AFTCO. I think it is fair to say we were all impressed and encouraged with the increased focus on the recreational sector and its economic impact to this nation from the previous two conferences.
We believe the key stakeholders in Washington got the message loud and clear on the changes that need to be made in the law, and the flexibility the regional councils need in the renewal of this law. Magnuson has come a long way in reducing overfishing, with estimates of the proportion of stocks overfished declining from 38% in 2000 to 19% today, and proportion of stocks subject to overfishing declining from 33% in 1999 to 10% today. Under the proposed reenactment, the recreational sector needs to have a seat at the table as changes are made, and the economic and social impact our sector has on this nation are taken into account.
I’m not sure how many of our readers know that much of the funding for our state Fishing and Wildlife Agencies (FWA) comes from excise taxes from industry manufacturers and license sales to recreational shooting sports and fishing participants. Big Rock was invited to attend the fourth annual Industry/Agency Summit with leading companies from the fishing, shooting sports, boating and archery industries, spending two full days with the heads of each states’ Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The agenda crossed over all four industries, and the collaborative effort between the private and public sectors was very impressive.
Mid-June marked the second Big Rock Sports Vendor Summit, where all of our shooting sports, fishing, camping and marine industries’ top companies’ management spent two-and-a-half days learning more about Big Rock Sports’ upcoming 2014 sales, marketing and merchandising plans, as well as meet individually with their respective shooting sports and fishing divisions’ strategic planning partners at Big Rock. There will be more to follow in the Summit itself on a separate press release, so I will not spend a lot of space on it here.
What was heartwarming to see at the Summit was the unbelievable enthusiasm and generosity the industry vendors showed at the live and silent auction the second night of the Summit, where collectively Big Rock and its vendor partners raised $100,000 for Combat Warriors, Inc. The funds raised will be used for hunting and fishing trips for returning veterans for the remainder of 2013 and into 2014. This makes a two-year total of $160,000 raised for Combat Warriors Inc. at the Big Rock Summits.
In the next issue of the magazine look for more on the July/August “Picture Your Family Fishing” Sweepstakes. Big Rock Sports and our fishing retailers are the title sponsor for this contest through KeepAmericaFishing. We’ll also bring you an update on the ICAST Show, potential new advocacy programs and plans from KeepAmericaFishing and the upcoming Outdoor Industry Rendezvous and Summit planned for early October.