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News & Observations
Thursday, July 12, 2018

Some good news from Washington yesterday as the U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 200, the bipartisan bill that includes the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017. It’s important as it’s the first time recreational fishing has gotten priority treatment in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. 

As Jeff Angers from the Center for Sportfishing Policy said, “Marine recreational fishing is not a partisan issue” and that was reflected in the support for recreational anglers in the new bill.

Now, it’s up to the Senate to pass S.1520 - when that happens, it will be good news for recreational anglers, fisheries and the boating and angling industries.

And the Second Amendment Foundation and the Department of Justice announced their settlement of a 2013 SAF lawsuit that challenged the DOJ’s attempt to prevent the distribution of 3-D files that could be used to manufacture (print) firearms. The DOJ wanted to use the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to prevent Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed’s publishing of 3-D files.

In the settlement (which really looks like a win) the DOJ agreed to waive its prior restraints against Wilson/Defense Distributed, pay a “significant portion of the plaintiff’s attorney fees” and return $10,000 in State Department registration dues paid as a result of the prior restraint.

It’s worth noting that the settlement includes the government’s agreement that non-automatic firearms up to .50 caliber- including modern sporting rifles - are not inherently military. 

As the SAF’s Alan Gottlieb notes, that’s a big admission. Anti-gun groups have for years used the military-look of AR-style rifles as a large part of their “weapons of war” argument for their being banned. “With this settlement, Gottlieb observes, “the government has acknowledged they are nothing of the sort.”

That should make for some interesting courtroom conversations in the future.

And down in Orlando, ICAST 2018 is now in full swing. As one of the major concerns of the sportfishing industry progresses in Washington, the latest-and-greatest in fishing technology is rolling out to enthusiastic buyers and distributors. Our Fishing Wire editor Frank Sargeant’s there this week, wandering through the crowds and checking out what’s new.

At this point, he’s enamored of just about everything (it’s an occupational hazard), but we’re in agreement that two pieces have real potential. 

First, Shimano’s digital Curado DC series baticasting reel. This little hummer has a ton of technology inside- including a teeny-generator that powers a microprocessor that monitors reel speed 1,000 times per second and prevents over-runs. According to Frank, the Curado DC works in tricky upwind conditions or even when skipping baits under docks. The most surprising part of this bit of technology might be the price -$250. That’s not far beyond the price of other reels -and the idea of being able to avoid the bird’s nests heads me toward the piggy bank to see if I could scrape that amount of mad money together.

With Raymarine’s Axiom system, you can now control your DJI drone from your boat. But like casting, drone flying is an acquired skillset - practice before you shove off.

The second thing is the integration of two pieces of whiz-bang technology. Raymarine’s Axiom system now integrates with DJI drones. Drones -from what we’ve been able to find out to this point- aren’t illegal for use in fishing like they are in hunting. So…it might well be that you can send your drone out to do a little clear-water scouting for you, then get some killer video and stills of your landing your catch. 

Based on my experience with drones, I’d suggest practicing over dry land before you accidentally take your expensive flying toy swimming. 

As always, we’ll keep you posted.

— Jim Shepherd


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