The bipartisan Modern Fish Act was introduced this week in the Senate, a companion bill to legislation that was introduced in the House in April.
Recreational boating and fishing stakeholders are hopeful that having bipartisan bills introduced in both chambers means that the legislation — which would treat recreational fishing catch limits separately from commercial fishing catch limits, among other things — will pass.
“We now have action in both chambers of Congress to amend federal fisheries law; that is significant for the recreational boating and fishing industries,” Martin Peters, senior government relations manager for the Yamaha Marine Group, told Trade Only Today.
“Recreational anglers have too long been subject to regulations intended to manage commercial fishing,” Peters said. “Change could be within reach in this Congress, this year, if we all redouble our efforts and communicate to our members in every state. Now is the time for every person associated with the marine industry to advocate for the Modern Fish Act through BassforSalt.com or other advocacy websites.”
The bill, officially titled “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017,” was introduced last week by Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; Bill Nelson, D-Fla.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; John Kennedy, R-La.; and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
“When passed, this landmark legislation will modernize the federal regulations governing access to the public’s natural resources by boaters and anglers,” National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich said in a statement.
Recreational fishing makes an annual economic contribution of more than $63 billion, Center for Sportfishing Policy president Jeff Angers said.
“With a bipartisan bill introduced in both chambers, we are hopeful the Congress will ensure all Americans have fair and reasonable access to our nation’s marine resources by passing the Modern Fish Act,” Angers said in a statement.
The Magnuson-Stevens Act, the law governing saltwater fisheries management and fishing, is designed to be reviewed regularly because the nation’s fisheries are constantly evolving, said Coastal Conservation Association president Patrick Murray.
“The simple adjustments in this bipartisan bill would continue to ensure conservation of our nation’s saltwater fisheries while finally establishing greatly needed parity for the recreational fishing community,” Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation president Jeff Crane said.
The bipartisan legislation includes “key provisions that will adapt federal fisheries management to manage recreational fishing in a way that better achieves conservation and public access goals,” American Sportfishing Association president Mike Nussman said. “Recreational fishing provides many economic, social and conservation benefits to the nation, and with this legislation the federal fisheries management system will better realize those benefits.”
“The Modern Fish Act would fix key issues in the law governing marine fisheries that keep recreational anglers from enjoying access to healthy fisheries,” said Jim Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance.