Maverick Boats president and CEO Scott Deal, who has long championed federal saltwater fishing reform, wrote an op-ed in The Hill asking readers to support the Modern Fish Act.
“It is critical that this package fix a problem decades in the making: outdated management of America’s federal fisheries,” Deal wrote in the op-ed Sunday.
Each year, 11 million Americans travel to the nation’s coasts to fish, supporting 440,000 American jobs — including thousands of manufacturing and supply jobs in non-coastal states — and pump $63.4 billion into the U.S. economy, Deal wrote.
But an antiquated federal system that manages recreational fishing the same as it does commercial fishing didn’t anticipate the growth seen in the recreational fishing sector, he said.
Deal talked about his partnership with Bass Pro Shops’ Johnny Morris as cochairs of the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, which resulted in a 2014 report advising policymakers on ways to improve management.
“But still, anglers are being forced into a commercial fisheries management model like a square peg in a round hole,” wrote Deal.
The Modern Fish Act, formally known as the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017, would provide solutions and management tools that would bring federal fisheries management into the 21st century and fit the nature of recreational fishing, wrote Deal.
If passed, it would make new data collection methods, provide additional management tools designed for recreational fishing, improve access for America’s anglers, and receive enhanced conservation funding.
In the Senate, nearly 20 senators—an even mix of Democrats and Republicans—have signed up as co-sponsors. In the House of Representatives, the Modern Fish Act consistently received bipartisan support and was ultimately included in a larger bill that passed on the House floor this summer with support from both Democrats and Republicans.
“This legislative momentum was a direct result of hundreds of thousands of Americans writing, calling and speaking with their representatives and senators over the past two years urging passage of this important legislation,” wrote Deal.
“Support for the Modern Fish Act is clear, and after two years of progress, it is time for this Congress to push the bill across the finish line,” Deal wrote. “As Congress works to wrap up its legislative business before the holidays, I hope it will give anglers well-deserved acknowledgment by passing the Modern Fish Act to improve the way America’s fisheries are managed in federal waters.”
The Modern Fish Act is among the policies National Marine Manufacturers Association is working to get passed.