Clinton Bans Recreational Fishing In Hawaiian Reserve

 Dec. 4, 2000

(Alexandria, VA) In a sweeping executive order made today, President Clinton banned recreational fishing from approximately 4 million acres off the northwest Hawaiian Islands, and restricted the activity in another 80 million acres.  There are over a quarter million recreational anglers in Hawaii whose activity contributes an astounding $238 billion to the local Hawaiian economy.  These benefits could be severely impacted by this order.

"President Clinton's executive order is a slap in the face of recreational fishing", stated Mike Hayden, President of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA).  "These blanket closures, whereby we exclude the American public, are the easy way out, but are inherently unfair.  Certainly, if anglers are part of the problem, we'll do our part, but we think it's wrong to penalize everyone without any science to back it up".  

Recreational fishing relies on free access to the water.  Angling is an activity embraced on virtually all Federal lands including wildlife refuges, national parks, and wilderness areas.  It is accepted because recreational anglers are already subject to strict seasons, size and catch limits.  There is a substantial record demonstrating that these measures are effective at managing recreational anglers. 

"The President's action only reinforces our belief that legislative guidance is needed in this area," stated ASA Vice President for Government Affairs Mike Nussman.  In October, Senators John Breaux (LA) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) introduced the Freedom To Fish Act  (S. 3234).  The bill would ensure that recreational fishing only be excluded in those areas where it has been demonstrated to be detrimental to the resource.  In his introductory statement, Senator Breaux stated that, "restricting public admission to our coastal waters should not be our first course of action, but rather our last".   ASA believed this is the idea that should have been applied in Hawaii.