Fishing & Boating News

Government Leaders, Sportsmen, and Farmers Link Arms at Rally August 6 to Launch Fishable Waters Act

40% of Nation's Waters are Unfishable and/or Unswimmable

(Wednesday, July 29,1998 - Montgomery, AL) Twenty-six years after passage of the Clean Water Act (CWA), 40 percent of America's waters remain unfishable and/or unswimmable, according to EPA reports. In a rally in Greensboro, N.C., August 6, groups that often differ on conservation issues, plan to stand side-by-side to unveil the Fishable Waters Act -- legislation aimed at restoring that remaining 40 percent of waters to fishable and swimmable conditions.

How much water will be improved if this legislation is as effective as projected? About much water will be improved if this legislation is as effective as projected? About 4 million acres.....almost as many acres of water as are now being managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the entire United States.

Restoring those waters would, in addition to further safeguarding our nation's drinking water supply, improve fishing potential in almost one million miles of rivers and streams which can support 1.4 million anglers fishing about 24 million days per year, generating new annual economic activity of about $2 billion.

United as the Fishable Waters Coalition, the group has developed this landmark legislation that deploys a different approach to the problem. Instead of purely a big-stick approach, the initial focus is on a voluntary incentative-driven approach and on problem-solving through watershed councils.

Members of the Coalition, chaired by the American Sportfishing Association, include the American Fisheries Society, Izaak Walton League, Trout Unlimited, Pacific Rivers Council, International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Congressional Sportsmen Foundation, the National Corn Growers Association and the host for the event, B.A.S.S. Inc.

"We have a lot of faith in the American people -- and especially in America's largest land stewards -- farmers, ranchers and the forest product industry," said B.A.S.S., Inc., Chairman and CEO Helen Sevier. "Hard-nosed regulations may work, but they can cause resentment and polarization. A lot can be accomplished by working with people to prevent problems."

The Clean Water Act, which revived the historic Potomac and Hudson Rivers, and many other waters from coast to coast, did so by effectively attacking "point source" pollution -- discharges of pollultants directly into rivers and lakes from industry and municipal sewage treatment systems.

The problems remaining are: low stream flows; river disconected from flood plains; degraded urban waters; sediment-choked streams and lakes, and erosion and run-off -- mud, fertilizers, oil and pesticides carried into creeks, rivers and streams.

Experts call in non-point source pollution. It is much harder to trace and it's effects impact the entire watershed. It disconnects rivers from flood plains; pollutes waters in our suburbs and cities; destroys the support systems for fish and other water-dependent animals and plants.

At the Classic, the Coalition will host discussions about the leading causes of fish habitat loss and poor fishing; the political realities of including the Fishable Waters Act concepts into the scheduled reauthorization of the CWA; and the role B.A.S.S> and its many partners will play in passing and implement the FWA.

Attending the conference, which is open to interested parties, will be state and Federal agency fishery leaders; agriculture and environmental administrators; sportfishing and boating industry leaders; environmental group leaders; leaders of agriculture commodity groups; B.A.S.S. state Federation presidents and B.A.S.S. state conservation directors.

Seats for the 8:30 - 2"3- p.m. ET, August 6 conference -- including a catered luncheon -- are available through B.A.S.S. for $25 each. Tickets will be available at the door, but seats are limited, so advanced registration is recommended. Reservations: 334-272-9530, ext 404.