On Garmin's Support of the Modern Fish Act

Raise your hand if you are a runner and own a Garmin watch.

I bet a lot of you do. I do too. It has been with me through two marathons, two ultramarathons, thousands of training miles, bike rides and hikes.

But today. Today Garmin broke my heart.


On May 2nd, Garmin joined the ranks of the Center for Sportfishing Policy, a week ahead of their annual fly-in. As someone who organizes fly-ins for ocean users, including fishermen, lobstermen, shellfish growers and more across the country, I am in full support of the idea of constituents coming to DC and talking with legislators.

What I’m not in support of is their stance on fisheries management bills moving through Congress right now.

The Center for Sportfishing Policy is a staunch proponent of S.1520, the ‘Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act’, also known as the Modern Fish Act. Sponsored by Senator Roger Wicker of Louisiana, this bill as it currently stands misses the mark when it comes to addressing issues facing the long-term sustainability of America’s fisheries. This bill would amend the Magnuson-Stevens Action (MSA), the gold standard in fisheries management legislation across the globe, weakening accountability for recreational fisheries, creating disparities between commercial and recreational fisheries, and more.

‘Wait a minute’, you might say, ‘what interest does Garmin have in recreational fisheries? I thought they were a running brand.’

Garmin is much more than just a running brand. Garmin manufactures products for the automotive, outdoor recreation, aviation, and maritime industries – including chartplotters, fishfinders, autopilots and more, that most fishermen these days use to one degree or another.

Garmin therefore has a special interest in ensuring more people are out on the water, catching fish and boating. And so do I.

As someone who grew up fishing with my dad along the Potomac River, Chesapeake Bay, and down in the Outer Banks, I want people to be out on the water. I want local outfitters and charter boat operators to have successful businesses. I want the local economy to be continuously tied to outdoor recreational activities like saltwater fishing.

I recognize that regulations can feel burdensome to anyone and everyone that is subject to them. And when, for example, you’re just a regular fisherman out there trying to catch a fish with your daughter, you can feel very far removed from the fishing industry as the economic powerhouse that it is.

Trust me, I get.

However, when we start relaxing regulations and rolling-back science-based provisions, we quickly start heading in a direction that could lead to overfishing of key populations. The MSA’s unique system of stakeholder inclusive, science-based fishery management has proven flexible enough to accommodate the needs of diver fisheries and fishing sectors, while promoting innovation that betters fishery management.

Garmin, as a marine manufacturer, is looking out for their interests in supporting S.1520, at the expense of our nations fish stocks, and the long-term management needs of recreational fishermen across the country.

I am disappointed in Garmin, a brand I have come to know and love over the years. They have taken a stance that goes against the conservation ethos of so many of us in the running community, aligning themselves with powerful economic entities that put dollars before everything else.