WASHINGTON – Thousands of fishermen from around the country are rallying at the Capitol today (Feb. 24) to call attention to the need to change a federal fisheries law they say is killing jobs and eroding fishing communities.

A "United We Fish" organizer, Jim Hutchinson Jr. of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, says the 2007 Magnuson-Stevens fishery law sets unrealistic fish stock recovery goals based on flawed science, and then imposes harsh cuts on fishermen once those goals aren't met.

The march was organized by RFA, the Conservation Cooperative of Gulf Fishermen, United Boatmen of New York, United Boatmen of New Jersey, New York Sportfishing Federation, Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association and the Fishing Rights Alliance.

"The closures keep coming and it's good to see the collective fishing communities and industries, both recreational and commercial, calling for scientific based Magnuson reform," RFA Executive Director Jim Donofrio said about the march in December. "We are all in this together."

Organizers are asking anglers write their congressmen to demand support the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act of 2009 (H.R. 1584) and Senate bill 1255, both of which seek "limited flexibility" in fisheries management.
"We need to let Congress and NOAA know that we are the collective voice of the recreational fishing community and the collective voice does not accept the current broken management system which wreaks such havoc on all of us and our businesses," Donofrio said.

RFA Managing Director Jim Hutchinson Jr. said changing the system will only be possible when congressmen hear from constituents nationwide.

"Whether it's our restrictive fluke fishery in New York, the arbitrary closure of state waters for our anglers in California, or the shutdown of red snapper and amberjack down south, our community has been divided by preservationist tactics for too long," RFA's Managing Director Jim Hutchinson, Jr. has said. "It's time to unite the clans in defense of our coastal heritage and traditions."

Editor's Note: The Associated Press contributed to this news story.