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Modern Fish Act heads to Senate

The Modern Fish Act is important legislation for recreational anglers.

The Modern Fish Act is important legislation for recreational anglers.

The Modern Fish Act is slated to head to the Senate for a markup later this month after clearing the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources in December.

The bipartisan bill was introduced in the Senate in July after a companion bill was brought forth in the House last April.

Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy, told Trade Only Today upon his return from Washington D.C. that all the conditions for the bill’s movement in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation looked favorable.

“It looks like we will see the Modern Fish Act pass the House floor in the early part of March, and we think all the stars are aligned on the Senate floor,” Angers told Trade Only.

The bill, which includes saltwater recreational fishing management provisions and was endorsed by a vast coalition of boating and fishing industry stakeholders, cleared a House committee Dec. 13.

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., one of the authors of the Senate bill, understands that saltwater fishing affects places in his state that are not on the coast, Angers said; NauticStar, one of his constituents, is close to Memphis.

The Committee on Natural Resources approved H.R. 200, a bill sponsored by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, that amends the 1976 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to provide flexibility for fishery managers and more stability for anglers.

The industry coalesced around the Modern Fish Act, something that the National Marine Manufacturers Association said was crucial to the bill’s passage in the House.

On April 6, Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., introduced H.R. 2023, the Modern Fish Act, to address the challenges facing recreational fishermen in the federal fisheries management system.

He was joined by a bipartisan list of 24 co-sponsors. The original ones include Reps. Gene Green, D-Texas; Daniel Webster, R-Fla.; and Rob Wittman, R-Va.

The Modern Fish Act’s legislative language was ultimately included in H.R. 200.

The recreational fishing and boating community identified and presented priorities to federal policy-makers that were developed by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management — often referred to as the Morris-Deal Commission — a reference to co-chairmen Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president of the Maverick Boat Group.

In 2014, the Morris-Deal Commission released “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries,” which included six key policy changes to produce the full range of saltwater recreational fishing’s social, economic and conservation benefits to the nation.

On Dec. 8, a coalition of organizations, including the NMMA, requested in a letter to the Committee on Natural Resources that the Modern Fish Act be in the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and moved to the House floor for final passage.

In a show of support, 135 marine recreational fishing and boating industry executives signed a letter to the committee on Monday backing the Modern Fish Act and its inclusion in the final reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

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