President Trump signed The Modern Fish Act into law on Monday, giving recreational boating and fishing advocates even more reason to celebrate the New Year.
The Senate unanimously passed the bill, formally known as the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2018, on Dec. 17.
“It’s official, the Modern Fish Act is now law, a great victory for recreational anglers. Yamaha appreciates all the support in regards to Yamaha’s advocacy efforts, but our work is not done,” Ben Speciale, president of the Yamaha U.S. Business Unit, told Trade Only Today. “All of us must continue to fight to make sure management councils around the country uphold the amendments of the Modern Fish Act.”
“This is historic for the recreational boating and fishing community, capping years of hard work to responsibly modernize recreational saltwater fisheries management,” said National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich in a statement. “The Modern Fish Act is a critical first-step solution towards establishing a framework for expanding access to recreational saltwater fishing, while ensuring conservation and sustainability remain top priorities in fisheries management.”
Many of the bill’s provisions were inspired by the Morris-Deal Commission Report, released in 2014.
Many of the proposed improvements for federal saltwater fisheries management in the Morris-Deal Report had been debated for some time before then, wrote Mike Leonard, vice president of government affairs for the American Sportfishing Association.
“For the recreational fishing community to achieve this legislative victory in these challenging political times speaks to the effectiveness of the coalition of organizations working on your behalf, the power of the sportfishing industry when it makes its voice heard and the increasing recognition among political leaders of recreational fishing’s importance to the nation,” wrote Leonard.
“Millions of American families take part in saltwater recreational fishing and boating activities and support multi-billion dollar industries that generate hundreds of thousands of jobs in our country,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy, in a separate statement. “Today, we are thankful for this important milestone for federal fisheries management and marine conservation, and we look forward to continuing to improve public access to our nation’s healthy fisheries.”
“We stand here today at this historic juncture and w/ this tremendous opportunity ahead of us largely because of your engagement,” said Dammrich in a video, thanking the industry for helping pass The Modern Fish Act into law.
The NMMA’s grassroots political effort, Boating United, had record engagement last year, according to the group.
In 2018, 4,428 advocates contacted their members of Congress; there were 18,615 emails sent to Congress, 242 calls made to Congress, 337 posts on social media, and 1,302 petition signatures, according to the NMMA.
“There is still work to be done, but this is a valuable first step,” said Patrick Murray, president of the Coastal Conservation Association. “We are hopeful this opens the door to an ongoing discussion of tools and processes that can be developed to better manage recreational fisheries in federal waters in all regions of the United States.”