Congress to vote on Modern Fish Act next week

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If passed, the Modern Fish Act would amend the law governing saltwater fishing in federal waters

If passed, the Modern Fish Act would amend the law governing saltwater fishing in federal waters

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the Modern Fish Act on Tuesday, and the Senate is moving forward with similar legislation.

The bills would change the Magnuson Stevens Act, the law that governs federal saltwater fisheries management, to treat recreational fishing differently from commercial fishing. To date, they have been managed as the same.

“It’s time to pass the Modern Fish Act. To do that, your representative needs to hear from you,” Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy, told Trade Only Today. “Don’t let others speak for you, your family and your business. The antiquated, one-size-fits-all federal fisheries management system may be working for some people, but it is failing the majority of Americans. It’s time for the Congress to act on this urgent legislation. Contact your representative by texting FISH to 50457.”

To date, the commercial and recreational sectors have been lumped together in terms of allocation and management, but as technology evolves and more people are able to access offshore fishing, the recreational side has called for change.

The fundamental challenge in current federal fisheries management law is that it was designed to manage large-scale industrial fisheries. The main issues addressed in the Modern Fish Act are allocation, exempted fishing permits and limited access privilege programs.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association joined the Congressional Sportsmen Caucus for a fly-in to Washington D.C. last week to advocate for the legislation, along with David Slikkers from S2 Yachts, Massachusetts Marine Trades Association executive director Randall Lyons, and Yamaha senior manager of marine communications and government relations Martin Peters.

Overall, participants met with Congressional staff from more than 30 key lawmakers’ offices.

The meetings provided an opportunity to discuss how recreational fishing requires distinctly different management tools and better data resources, according to the NMMA.

Participants made the case that MFA provides the necessary tools to properly manage recreational anglers and encouraged the staff to advocate for its passage.

NMMA is calling on all stakeholders to take action and tell Congress to support the Modern Fish Act. 

“We are very pleased that the Modern Fish Act continues to move forward in the U.S. House and Senate, and are optimistic it will pass with bipartisan support in the House next week," Nicole Vasilaros, NMMA’s senior vice president of government and legal affairs, told Trade Only. "This is a top priority for the boating industry and we believe it will go a long way towards improving recreational angling access and data management. ”

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