On August 26, President Obama announced a major expansion of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Marine Monument, otherwise known as “Papahãnaumokuãkea,” to the maximum 200-mile limit allowed by the US Exclusive Economic Zone. It previously was limited to a 50-mile protected area created by President George W. Bush in 2006. Both of these proclamations were enacted using The 1906 Antiquities Act, which empowers the president to take such actions without the consent or approval of congress.
What does this have to do with recreational fishing getting its just due in conservation? Well, plenty. The original Act, passed in 2006 by President Bush, banned all commercial activities in these waters—including recreational fishing. The expanded 2016 Act from President Obama further restricts commercial activities in waters up to 200 miles from Hawaii, with the exception of recreational fishing and boating, which is allowed in waters 50–200 miles out—a major exception specifically written in and made for the recreational fishing and boating community.
While you might say this has no effect on me or where I live and fish or boat, it indeed does. It sets a precedent for all future presidents who may use The 1906 Antiquities Act to enhance their conservation legacy to make sure recreational fishing and boating are not part of the commercial restrictions, and are acknowledged for their conservation efforts. Separating us from commercial fishing, offshore oil explorations and drilling, mineral extraction, etc. and showing how recreational fishing is compatible with conservation is a big step forward, and would not have been possible without the diligence of ASA President Mike Nussman and special advisor George Cooper. They spent many hours on Capitol Hill outlining the conservation and economic impacts recreational fishing has on this nation. For that, a special thanks to both of you is well earned.