Recreational saltwater anglers are celebrating a new federal law changing how fisheries are managed.
Just before the new year, President Trump signed the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2018, better known as the Modern Fish Act.
The act authorizes the use of management tools geared towards recreational fishing, and seeks out updated recreational harvest data. It will study mixed-use fishery allocation and provide recommendations on catch share management programs. The nation’s estimated 11 million saltwater anglers could also see better public access to federal waters.
BoatUS, the nation’s leading boat owners’ group, applauds the act:
“What the act does for saltwater anglers is to update critical public policy to help ensure fisheries management and oversight also works for recreational anglers,” said BoatUS Manager of Government Affairs David Kenney.
A coalition of saltwater fishing advocates, including BoatUS and the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association (NMMA) pushed for the measure.
“This is historic for the recreational boating and fishing community, capping years of hard work to responsibly modernize recreational saltwater fisheries management,” said NMMA President Thom Dammrich.
The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) notes how far the Modern Fish Act came as a compromise between recreational, commercial, charter/for-hire, and restaurant sectors, as well as many environmental groups .
“Over the course of the last year the Modern Fish Act has gone from a conservation threat to a bipartisan achievement… We can all be proud to have reached agreement on a bill that responds to the demands of recreational fishing advocates without jeopardizing either sustainability or Americans’ access to local seafood,” said Matt Tinning, Associate Vice President of EDF’s Oceans Program.
Sponsors of the Modern Fish Act in Washington were Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA), and key supporters Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Doug Jones (D-AL); and Congressmen Steve Scalise (R-LA), Rob Bishop (R-UT), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Rob Wittman (R-VA), Gene Green (D-TX), Daniel Webster (R-FL), and Austin Scott (R-GA).
Bay Bulletin’s own outdoor sporting expert, Captain Chris Dollar, feels it’s positive news on the Bay, too.
“The Modern Fish Act is a crucial step forward in helping bring federal fisheries management into the 21st Century. The law, which has been more than a dozen years in the making, will protect the rights of recreational anglers for years to come, and although not perfect as there’s still work to do on the conservation and sustainability front, the Act finally recognizes the importance of sport fishing to the American way of life and our economy.”
-Meg Walburn Viviano