Outdoors groups back House fisheries bill

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The recreational fishing and boating community praised the introduction of a U.S. House bill that addresses critical challenges facing saltwater recreational fishing at the federal level.

Reps. Garret Graves, R-La., Gene Green, D-Texas, Daniel Webster, R-Fla., and Rob Wittman, R-Va., led the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017, or Modern Fish Act.

“On behalf of America’s 11 million saltwater anglers, we thank congressmen Graves, Green, Webster and Wittman for championing this legislation to modernize federal recreational fishing management,” Center for Sportfishing Policy president Jeff Angers said in a statement.

“For decades, the recreational fishing community has been subjected to antiquated federal policies not designed to manage recreational fishing,” Angers said. “The time is now to update these policies so families can fully enjoy our nation’s remarkable marine resources and continue a proud American tradition on the water.”

The fishing advocacy groups said the Modern Fish Act addresses many of the recreational fishing community’s priorities, including allowing alternative management for recreational fishing, re-examining fisheries allocations, smartly rebuilding fishery stocks, establishing exemptions where annual catch limits don’t fit and improving recreational data collection.

The groups said the bill aims to benefit fishing access and conservation by incorporating modern management approaches, science and technology to guide decision-making.

“We applaud the introduction of the Modern Fish Act in the House and the efforts of Rep. Graves and his colleagues to modernize the federal regulations governing access to the public’s natural resources by boaters and anglers,” National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich said. “We appreciate the congressmen’s support for better management of our recreational fisheries that will bring federal management into the 21st century.”

“Getting more Americans outdoors and enjoying our wonderful natural treasures, including in saltwater spaces, requires updating and modernizing federal management approaches,” American Sportfishing Association president Mike Nussman said. “The Modern Fish Act addresses the core issues within federal saltwater fisheries management that are limiting the public’s ability to enjoy saltwater recreational fishing and will help maximize the economic, social and conservation benefits that recreational fishing provides to the nation.”

“This legislation reflects the vision and commitment of the recreational angling community to work with Congress and NOAA to provide quality angling opportunities for all stakeholders,” Coastal Conservation Association president Patrick Murray said.

“For decades in federal fisheries management, recreational fishing was always an afterthought,” Recreational Fishing Alliance executive director Jim Donofrio said. “The Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act introduced by congressman Graves and his colleagues finally addresses the specific needs of the recreational fishing community, stands to bring parity to fisheries management and will get anglers back on the water.”

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