December 21, 2017

Angling Community Optimistic With Recent Advances to Improve Fisheries Management and Conservation

On December 13, the House Natural Resources Committee advanced H.R. 200, a bill sponsored by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Congressman Don Young (AK) that amends the 1976 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) to provide flexibility for fishery managers and stability for fishermen.

Prior to being discharged from the Committee, measures to improve recreational fisheries management were added to H.R. 200. Many of these measures can also be found in H.R. 2023, the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017, which is sponsored by CSC Members Congressmen Garret Graves (LA), Gene Green (TX), and Rob Wittman (VA) as well as Congressman Daniel Webster (FL).

“The opportunity to find reasonable balance to federal fisheries management for America’s saltwater anglers took a major step forward last week,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) President Jeff Crane. “With the future of consistent and reasonable access to red snapper, triggerfish, cobia and other recreationally important species uncertain, it is imperative that Congress adjust the preeminent law governing our marine fisheries to be more relevant to recreational fisheries, not just commercial fisheries.”

The House is expected to take up H.R. 200 early in 2018, while the bipartisan Senate version of the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 (S. 1520), sponsored by CSC Member Senator Roger Wicker (MS) and Senator Bill Nelson (FL), awaits action in Committee.

Another priority for recreational anglers deals with Pacific billfish conservation. S. 396, a bill to make a technical amendment to the Billfish Conservation Act (BCA) of 2012 (P.L. 112-183), passed the Senate by unanimous consent on October 2, receiving no objections or holds. The measure provides a technical amendment to the Billfish Conservation Act to clarify a slight ambiguity related to the treatment of covered Pacific billfish under the law. The BCA was intended to put similar prohibitions on the sale of Pacific billfish as those for Atlantic billfish, effectively eliminating an estimated 30,000 billfish being imported to the U.S. each year from the Pacific.

Unfortunately, five years after the BCA was signed into law, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has failed to issue regulations to properly implement the law. A coalition of recreational angling and boating organizations sent a letter to House Natural Resource Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (UT) and Ranking Member Raul Grijalva (AZ), imploring that they quickly move S. 396 to the floor and finally ensure that Pacific billfish are afforded much needed protection.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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