Center for Sportfishing Policy defends support of fisheries bill

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The Center for Sportfishing Policy is issuing a response to attacks on a bipartisan bill introduced last week in Congress that would reform current federal fisheries management policy.

“Last week’s bipartisan introduction of the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017, or the Modern Fish Act, marked the best opportunity in years for Congress to address serious challenges that have faced the nation’s saltwater recreational fishing community for far too long,” the center said in a statement.

If passed, the Modern Fish Act will reform key aspects of current federal fisheries management policy, allowing for greater public access to America’s waters, enhanced science and a much-needed boost for thousands of businesses, the center said.

Some defenders of the status quo “have voiced over-the-top and misinformed interpretations of the bill,” the statement said.

The bill has come under fire from the nation’s largest organization of commercial seafood harvesters, according to the Portland Press Herald in Maine.

The Seafood Harvesters of America argues that the bill would hamstring federal regional fishery councils’ ability to manage the fishery sector and most species while also limiting the ability to innovate new solutions to overfishing.

“We support the bill sponsors’ effort to obtain additional, more accurate and real-time data on our fisheries and in particular, the recreational sector, which will help better manage our fisheries,” Seafood Harvesters of America executive director Kevin Wheeler said in a statement.

“However, this bill would fundamentally exempt the recreational fishing community from adhering to the basic conservation standards that have been central to the rebuilding of many of our fish stocks.”

Recreational fishing advocates have long made the case that outdated saltwater fishing rules are geared toward the commercial industry and should be updated to reflect a growing recreational industry.

The Center for Sportfishing Policy wants to make changes that not only increase access for 11 million saltwater recreational anglers, but it also wants to work with Congress to enhance conservation of marine resources, the statement said.

The group is reiterating its call for bipartisan support of H.R. 2023.

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