Modern Fish Act will change how recreational fishing is managed

Update:

Washington, D.C. – January 2, 2019 – The recreational fishing and boating community is celebrating the enactment of the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2018 (Modern Fish Act), which was signed into law by President Trump December 31. The Modern Fish Act finally recognizes in federal law the differences between recreational and commercial fishing and adds more appropriate management tools for policymakers to use in managing federal recreational fisheries.
“Millions of American families take part in saltwater recreational fishing and boating activities and support multi-billion dollar industries that generate hundreds of thousands of jobs in our country,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “Today, we are thankful for this important milestone for federal fisheries management and marine conservation, and we look forward to continuing to improve public access to our nation’s healthy fisheries.”
The Modern Fish Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Garret Graves (R-La.), enjoyed strong bipartisan support from a long list of cosponsors representing coastal and non-coastal states alike. On December 17, the Senate unanimously passed the Modern Fish Act (S. 1520) followed by overwhelming approval in the House (350-11) on December 19.
“This is historic for the recreational boating and fishing community, capping years of hard work to responsibly modernize recreational saltwater fisheries management,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the
National Marine Manufacturers Association. “The Modern Fish Act is a critical first-step solution towards establishing a framework for expanding access to recreational saltwater fishing, while ensuring conservation and sustainability remain top priorities in fisheries management. We thank President Trump and Congress for making the Modern Fish Act the law of the land and look forward to working with them in the coming years to advance polices that protect and promote recreational saltwater fishing.”
“The recreational fishing industry is grateful to see this legislation enacted,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “We look forward to continuing to work with Congress, as well as NOAA Fisheries and the regional fishery management councils, to improve the management and conservation of our marine fisheries.”
“The Modern Fish Act signed by the President provides an opportunity for significant, positive change on behalf of millions of recreational anglers who enjoy fishing in federal waters,” said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “We look forward to working with NOAA Fisheries, the regional fishery management councils and the states to fully implement the provisions of the bill and improve federal fisheries management for America’s saltwater anglers.”
“CCA is proud to be a part of this important coalition, and we are grateful to our champions in Congress who stood by us during the intense, sometimes contentious negotiations on this legislation,” said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “There is still work to be done, but this is a valuable first step. We are hopeful this opens the door to an ongoing discussion of tools and processes that can be developed to better manage recreational fisheries in federal waters in all regions of the United States.”
“This bill becoming law is the most significant step forward in federal recreational saltwater fishing management in the forty-plus years of the Magnuson-Stevens Act,” said Whit Fosburgh, president of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Recreational fishermen, conservationists and businesses united around a set of principles and worked together to get this bill passed and we will continue to work together on priorities like forage fish management and improving data collection in the future.”
The recreational fishing and boating community would like to thank the sponsors of the Modern Fish Act, Senator Wicker and Congressman Graves, who led this bipartisan effort in the 115th Congress to improve federal fisheries management for America’s 11 million saltwater anglers. We also appreciate the support of Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Doug Jones (D-Ala.), and Congressmen Steve Scalise (R-La.), Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Marc Veasey (D-Texas), Rob Wittman (R-Va.), Gene Green (D-Texas), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), and Austin Scott (R-Ga.).
For details on House and Senate passage of the Modern Fish Act and additional industry perspectives, please visit http://www.sportfishingpolicy.com/media-room/u-s-house-passes-modern-fish-act/.
The Modern Fish Act will provide more stability and better access for anglers by:
  • Providing authority and direction to NOAA Fisheries to apply additional management tools more appropriate for recreational fishing, many of which are successfully implemented by state fisheries agencies (e.g., extraction rates, fishing mortality targets, harvest control rules, or traditional or cultural practices of native communities);
  • Improving recreational harvest data collection by requiring federal managers to explore other data sources that have tremendous potential to improve the accuracy and timeliness of harvest estimates, such as state-driven programs and electronic reporting (e.g., through smartphone apps);
  • Requiring the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study on the process of mixed-use fishery allocation review by the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Regional Fishery Management Councils and report findings to Congress within one year of enactment of the Modern Fish Act, and
  • Requiring the National Academies of Sciences to complete a study and provide recommendations within two years of the enactment of the Modern Fish Act on limited access privilege programs (catch shares) including an assessment of the social, economic, and ecological effects of the program, considering each sector of a mixed-use fishery and related businesses, coastal communities, and the environment and an assessment of any impacts to stakeholders in a mixed-use fishery caused by a limited access privilege program. This study excludes the Pacific and North Pacific Regional Fishery Management Councils.

Saltwater recreational fishing is enjoyed by over 11 million Americans. As an industry, we contribute over $70 billion to the economy each year and support 455,000 American jobs all over the country. In spite of these impressive numbers, when it comes to federal management, our sport is frequently overlooked.

The current federal laws have never properly addressed the importance of recreational fishing. This has led to shortened or even cancelled seasons, reduced bag limits, and unnecessary restrictions – none of which is good news for the recreational fishing industry.

Fortunately, a solution is on the horizon. On April 6, 2017, the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act, or the “Modern Fish Act” for short, was introduced in both the House of Representatives and Senate. This new bill will give federal managers the tools and data they need to both improve access and promote conservation of our natural marine resources.

Bottom line: the Modern Fish Act means more and better fishing for your customers – and that’s good news for everybody.

  • https://asafishing.org/advocacy_and_policy/advocacy/modern-fish-act/

 

Amidst all the turmoil in Washington, D.C., the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 (Modern Fish Act) has made it through Congress and now awaits President Trump’s signature.

“We feel very good to have gotten this thing across the finish line (Wednesday) night,” Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy, said in a telephone interview Thursday. Angers noted that the Senate passed the bill (S.1520) by unanimous consent (100-0) Monday and shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday it passed the House of Representatives.

“We wanted to have an update that made sure that the federal law recognized commercial fishing and recreational fishing are inherently different activities that need to be managed differently. We actually wrote that sentence into the law that was passed last night,” Angers said.

“This bill, the Modern Fish Act, is not a panacea. It’s not going to solve every problem in every fishery in every corner of the country. But the simple fact of the federal government recognizing the differences between the two activities is a huge win for recreational fishing and something we’ve been wanting for the last 40 years.”

Angers said the way U.S. fisheries has been managed dating back to 1976 and the establishment of the Magnuson Act was focused on commercial fishing and never addressed recreational fishing.

“I would always tell this story whenever I would walk into any congressman’s office in Washington. If the only tool available to manage fisheries in federal waters is the commercial fishing model of tonnage-based management, what percentage of a metric ton do my three kids get? How does that work? The problem is the federal government never looked back to see what tools are appropriate to manage recreational fishing.”

The attempt to bring recreational fisheries to the forefront began in 2014 by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management in a report titled “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries.” The Commission was know as the Morris-Deal Commission, named for co-chairs Johnny Morris (founder of Bass Pro Shops) and Scott Deal (president of Maverick Boat Group), and many of the recommendations are found in the Modern Fish Act.

It was supported by many fishing and boating entities, particularly the boat manufacturers found in South Carolina, Angers pointed out.

The coalition of groups supporting the Modern Fish Act includes American Sportfishing Association, Center for Sportfishing Policy, Coastal Conservation Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, International Game Fish Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Recreational Fishing Alliance, The Billfish Foundation and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

A news release on the passage noted that there are 11 million saltwater anglers in the U.S. who have an annual economic impact of $63 billion and generate 440,000 jobs. The news release also noted that ”$1.3 billion is contributed annually by anglers and boaters through excise taxes and licensing fees, most of which goes toward conservation, boating safety and infrastructure and habitat restoration.

The Modern Fish Act will provide more stability and better access for anglers by:

• Providing authority and direction to NOAA Fisheries to apply additional management tools more appropriate for recreational fishing, many of which are successfully implemented by state fisheries agencies (e.g., extraction rates, fishing mortality targets, harvest control rules, or traditional or cultural practices of native communities);

• Improving recreational harvest data collection by requiring federal managers to explore other data sources that have tremendous potential to improve the accuracy and timeliness of harvest estimates, such as state-driven programs and electronic reporting (e.g., through smartphone apps);

• Requiring the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study on the process of mixed-use fishery allocation review by the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Regional Fishery Management Councils and report findings to Congress within one year of enactment of the Modern Fish Act, and

• Requiring the National Academies of Sciences to complete a study and provide recommendations within two years of the enactment of the Modern Fish Act on limited access privilege programs (catch shares) including an assessment of the social, economic, and ecological effects of the program, considering each sector of a mixed-use fishery and related businesses, coastal communities, and the environment and an assessment of any impacts to stakeholders in a mixed-use fishery caused by a limited access privilege program. This study excludes the Pacific and North Pacific Regional Fishery Management Councils.

Angers feels the passage of this law will help bridge the distrust between anglers and federal managers.

“Generally speaking, anglers will say yes, let’s do the right thing for conservation. When the federal government makes an announcement, because there’s a lack of trust between anglers and federal managers, people are angry. When you hear bad news from your state guy, you’re a lot more accepting because you trust the state managers,” Angers said.

“Making federal management more like state management is a win-win for everybody.”

Angers said the bill doesn’t change the authority that (the South Atlantic and Gulf Fishery Management Councils) have over fisheries. But it helps facilitate the use of better management methods and incorporates better data, “things states already use but feds were not allowed to use.”

Per Tideline Magazine, https://www.postandcourier.com/tideline_magazine/modern-fish-act-will-change-how-recreational-fishing-is-managed/article_34db603e-0539-11e9-bd2c-bb51368ff5e1.html?fbclid=IwAR11V0DPVAVh2nB1Vh-2KC6VufXrUaXEnTYaMj9338ObAqrANCt8HtCvqSE