NOAA Fisheries last week published a FAQ document to ensure the Billfish Conservation Act, signed by President Trump on Aug. 2, is clear to those in the seafood and restaurant industries, as well as the general public.
“We appreciate NOAA Fisheries notifying its enforcement agents, members of the seafood supply chain, restaurateurs and the American public that marlin, sailfish and spearfish are officially off the menu in 49 states,” said Center for Sportfishing Policy president Jeff Angers in a statement. “The only state in which billfish can be sold is Hawaii.”
The Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 banned the importation of billfish caught by foreign fleets into the continental United States. However, questions arose over whether Congress intended the same prohibitions to apply to billfish caught commercially in Hawaii. Conservationists were concerned that domestically caught billfish could be transported from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland, circumventing the intent of the conservation measure.
H.R. 4528, introduced by Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., and signed into law Aug. 2, clarifies that billfish landed in Hawaii can only be sold in Hawaii.
“Fishermen and conservationists all around the country, including in Hawaii, are celebrating a law that conserves a very valuable yet vulnerable ocean resource while respecting and protecting local customs,” said Ken Hinman, president of Wild Oceans. “Quite simply, it’s good for conservation, it strengthens enforcement, and it’s fair.”
With the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 now implemented as originally intended, the United States has a greater leadership role in the international protection of billfish.