Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the recreational fishing and boating community praised the Senate introduction of the Modern Fish Act by Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), John Kennedy (R-La.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). The “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017” (Modern Fish Act) would improve public access to America’s federal waters, promote conservation of our natural marine resources and spur economic growth. A companion bill, H.R. 2023, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 6, by Congressmen Garret Graves (R-La.), Gene Green (D-Texas), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.).
“On behalf of America’s 11 million saltwater anglers, we thank Senators Wicker, Nelson, Blunt, Schatz, Kennedy, and Manchin for their leadership and commitment to modernizing federal recreational fishing management,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “Recreational fishing is a tradition worth safeguarding through proper management policies and a critical component of the U.S. economy, with an annual economic contribution of $63+ billion. With a bipartisan bill introduced in both chambers, we are hopeful the Congress will ensure all Americans have fair and reasonable access to our nation’s marine resources by passing the Modern Fish Act.”
For years, the recreational fishing community has been hindered by antiquated policies that restrict access to public waters, hurt the U.S. economy and detract from conservation goals. The Modern Fish Act addresses many of the challenges faced by recreational anglers, including allowing alternative management tools for recreational fishing, reexamining fisheries allocations, smartly rebuilding fish stocks and improving recreational data collection. The bill aims to benefit fishing access and conservation by incorporating modern management approaches, science and technology to guide decision-making.
“We applaud Senators Wicker, Nelson, Blunt, Schatz, Kennedy, and Manchin for working across the aisle to introduce the Modern Fish Act in the Senate. When passed, this landmark legislation will modernize the federal regulations governing access to the public’s natural resources by boaters and anglers,” said National Marine Manufacturers Association President Thom Dammrich. “We appreciate the commitment of Senators Wicker, Nelson, Blunt, Schatz, Kennedy and Manchin to finding solutions that allow for better management of our recreational fisheries and bring federal management into the 21st century.”
“The Modern Fish Act will achieve many goals, the most important of which is getting more Americans outdoors and enjoying our wonderful natural treasures,” said Mike Nussman, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “This bipartisan legislation includes key provisions that will adapt federal fisheries management to manage recreational fishing in a way that better achieves conservation and public access goals. Recreational fishing provides many economic, social and conservation benefits to the nation, and with this legislation, the federal fisheries management system will better realize those benefits.”
“The Magnuson Stevens Act is designed to be reviewed regularly because the management needs of our nation’s fisheries are constantly evolving. Since the last reauthorization, it has become abundantly clear that the law needs to be revised to provide quality angling opportunities for all stakeholders,” said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “This legislation signifies that our elected officials on both sides of the aisle recognize the unique needs of the recreational angling sector and the changing nature of fisheries management. We commend Senators Wicker, Nelson, Blunt, Schatz, Kennedy and Manchin for providing a pathway that provides for proper conservation and better management of our marine resources in the future.”
“The Modern Fish Act offers reasonable solutions to a management system designed primarily for commercial fisheries but which has failed to address the needs of millions of saltwater anglers,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “The simple adjustments in this bipartisan bill would continue to ensure conservation of our nation’s saltwater fisheries, while finally establishing greatly needed parity for the recreational fishing community.”
“The Modern Fish Act would fix key issues in the law governing marine fisheries that keep recreational anglers from enjoying access to healthy fisheries,” said Jim Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance.
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 Foundationand Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.