The Forage Fish Conservation Act will help saltwater gamefish thrive, according to an announcement from the Center for Sportfishing Policy.
Introduced by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the legislation requires that federal fisheries managers account for forage species when setting recreational catch limits.
Forage fish provide food for nearly all recreational fish species, seabirds and other marine life. The Forage Fish Conservation Act requires that impacts on fish populations and the marine ecosystem be considered before allowing harvest on any unmanaged forage species.
“We commend Sens. Blumenthal and Blunt for their commitment to strengthening the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act with these science-based forage fish conservation measures,” said Mike Leonard, vice president of government affairs for the American Sportfishing Association.
“Forage fish are experiencing unprecedented fishing pressure to help satisfy the world’s growing demand for protein,” said Guy Harvey, chairman of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. “However, research shows that forage fish are worth over twice as much in the ecosystem by supporting stocks of more popular food fish and recreational gamefish.”
In 2014, the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, chaired by Bass Pro Shops founder and CEO Johnny Morris and Maverick Boat group founder Scott Deal, released a report that included recommendations to improve management and conservation of forage fish.
“It is critical that we pay more attention to the tiniest of fish in our oceans because they are the base of the food chain and essential to the success of America’s blue economy,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy.
“A significant number of the 12 million registered boats in the United States are used for recreational fishing. For many families, their fishing boat is their single biggest investment in outdoor recreation,” said Chris Edmonston, vice president of government affairs for BoatUS. “Protecting the resource that keeps this family-friendly pastime viable is good policy.”