PROPOSES REFUGE FISHING TOURNAMENT BAN

ATTENTION ALL FISHERMEN!!!

Please take time to read and respond to this very important issue.

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
PROPOSES REFUGE FISHING TOURNAMENT BAN


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has published a draft policy that will
ban tournament fishing on National Wildlife Refuge waters.  This draft
policy was published in the Federal Register, January 16, 2001.  The
tournament ban proposal was not discussed with B.A.S.S., American
Sportfishing Association, the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council
(SFBPC) or, to our knowledge, with any other angling group, prior to
publishing.

The USFWS draft policy reads as follows:

>From the Federal Register January 16, 2001, 3681: U. S. Fish and Wildlife
Service Interior
1018-AG20

"I. Tournament fishing.  We prohibit this type of fishing on System
lands and waters unless we make a specific determination that the
event builds appreciation for and an understanding of fish and wildlife
resources, does not reasonably interfere with refuge visitors, and if
prizes of only nominal value are awardedS"

The following statement has been issued by Bruce Shupp, B.A.S.S., Inc.,
National Conservation Director:

"We are terribly disappointed that the USFWS would issue a draft policy on
National Wildlife Refuges that prohibits fishing tournament events.  Rather,
tournaments should be handled with permissive language that recognizes them
as a legitimate use of the refuge fishery resources and they should be
managed with a permit condition system to solve any real or perceived
problems.

"Another concern is that the expertise of 34 years of conducting B.A.S.S.
tournaments and working with state and Federal agencies to solve resource
problems was available to the FWS before this draft policy was issued.  We
wish they would have talked to us before the prohibitive language was put
into the draft policy.

"Following discussions on February 19, 2001 with Refuge officials, initiated
by B.A.S.S., we are confident that the FWS is receptive to our tournament
management ideas and that they will consider B.A.S.S.' and our members
views."  After the meeting, Jim Kurth, Deputy Chief USFWS Division of
Refuges stated, "We are confident that B.A.S.S. is deeply committed to the
preservation of our natural resources and shares in our concerns.  The U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service came away with a more clear understanding of the
issues as they relate to tournament activities."

"It is critical that B.A.S.S. members, and all bass anglers, make their
views known to the FWS regarding the draft refuge policy", said Helen
Sevier, B.A.S.S. CEO.

The draft National Wildlife Refuge Policy can be viewed on the internet at:
http://policy.fws.gov/library/01fr3681.html.  See page 3697, Section I. For
the fishing tournament language.

THEN SEND YOUR COMMENTS BY APRIL 17, 2001 TO:

                Mr. Douglas Staller, Acting Chief
                Division of Visitor Services and Communications
                National Wildlife Refuge System
                U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
                4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 670
                Arlington, Virginia   22203
                Telephone: (703)358-2364
                Fax: (703)358-2248
                E-mail: doug_staller@fws.gov

B.A.S.S.' letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in response to the
draft policy is attached below.


February 19, 2001


Mr. Douglas Staller, Acting Chief
Division of Visitor Services and Communications
National Wildlife Refuge System
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 670
Arlington, Virginia   22203


Re: FWS 1018-AG20; Fed. Reg. 3697; 3.13, I. Tournament Fishing


Dear Mr. Staller,

B.A.S.S., Inc. asks the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service to strike the
subject section in the Federal Register Volume 66, Number 10, published
January 16, 2001, which notices new policies on national wildlife refuges
that reads: "Sprohibit tournament fishing on System Lands and waters unless
we make a specific determination that the event builds appreciation for an
understanding of fish and wildlife resources, does not reasonably interfere
with other refuge visitors, and if prizes of only nominal value are
awardedS."

We are very disappointed that FWS did not ask B.A.S.S. for advice or
guidance during the development of this policy.  However, B.A.S.S. does
appreciate the opportunity to present our views, in the meeting with service
staff February 19, 2001 and to hear about the tournament issues on National
Wildlife Refuge that stimulated the FWS to establish this negative draft
policy toward fishing tournaments.  We are confident that the tournament
issues we discussed are all manageable through a tournament policy that
manages tournaments with permitted conditions, rather than banning
tournaments.  B.A.S.S. will work with FWS to strategize such a permit
system.

Enclosed are some materials that describe Bass Anglers Sportsman Society
(B.A.S.S.) and the programs and traditions it represents.  B.A.S.S. is a
for-profit corporation that has been in the bass tournament business for
over 30 years.  Our 2,800 affiliate B.A.S.S. Chapters, organized into 46 U.
S. state B.A.S.S. Federations, combined with our professional B.A.S.S. tour,
organize and conduct over 30,000 bass "tournament" events annually.  No
organization has conducted more tournaments or solved more tournament
problems than B.A.S.S.

Fishing tournament events range from those conducted by other for-profit
corporations, non-profit fishing groups, large national and local charitable
groups and smaller businesses and organizations that sponsor tournaments.
There are probably 400,000 bass "tournaments"  of various sizes held in the
U. S. annually.  There are also walleye, crappie, musky and catfish
tournaments.

Tournaments range from professional events where anglers must qualify to
enter the event and a chance to win over $100,000, to the opposite extreme -
- - small local events where a few anglers show-up at a marina or
restaurant,  pay nominal entrance fees and return several hours later to
weigh-in their catch and maybe win a few dollars.

Certainly there are many indicators  that tournaments "SBuild appreciation
for and an understanding of fish and wildlife resourcesS"  B.A.S.S. has
600,000 members who represent the most avid anglers in the world.  The
average B.A.S.S. member fishes over 50 days per year.  The 50,000 B.A.S.S.
Federation members (those who fish local and state tournaments) fish an
average of 120 days per year.  Professional B.A.S.S. anglers generally fish
over 200 days per year.  Compare these numbers to the average American
angler who fishes 18 days a year.

Tournament anglers love and respect both the resource and the sport!  They
buy lots of tackle, boats and fuel.  They make very significant
contributions to the Sportfish Restoration Fund.  They are America's
sportfishing advocates!

Avid anglers drive the sportfishing market, and no angling group is more
avid than B.A.S.S. tournament participants or B.A.S.S. Federation members.
Over 40% of the nations 60 million anglers fish for bass and expenditures by
bass anglers comprise 60 - 70% of all total annual sportfishing
expenditures.  These same anglers pay for the majority of America's
freshwater fisheries protection and management through their license
purchases and the federal excise taxes on fishing tackle, accessories and
marine fuel.  The anglers, the industry and the resource have an inescapable
synergistic relationship.

Tournament fishing interest has grown significantly over the last 10 years
while overall angling participation has declined.  The 1996 National Survey
clearly shows that there are fewer anglers but they are fishing a lot more
and spending a lot more money.  A Refuge System tournament ban directly
impacts this growing group of America's most avid anglers.

This draft policy regarding fish tournaments appears to be a decision driven
by incomplete understanding of tournament fishing activity or not
comprehending the consequences of a tournament ban.  State fish and wildlife
agencies, who generally understand their customer-base, are not banning
tournaments.  Some states regulate tournaments to avoid social issues and
they also monitor them to ensure the resource is not harmed, but they don't
ban them!

It is arbitrary to propose to ban legitimate fishing tournament recreation
from National Wildlife Refuges without defining, examining and trying to
resolve problems.  If there are legitimate problems, either with resources
or with access, social interaction or safety, these can be resolved on
refuges just as they are on non-refuge lands and waters.

B.A.S.S. requests that  Section I. From Federal Register page 3697 be
completely stricken from the policy.  In addition, B.A.S.S. is eager to work
with FWS on tournament issues and on any other sportfishing problems on
refuges, to resolve any real or perceived problems.

Sincerely,
/s/
Bruce Shupp





Bass N Edge