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What Does the Modern Fish Act Mean for Anglers?

The passing of this legislation was in large part made possible by support on Capitol Hill combined with the hundreds of thousands of fishing advocates across the nation for the past two years. (In-Fisherman photo)

The new act will recognize the difference between recreational and commercial fishing and much more

What a historic week for recreational fishing! For the first time ever, a sportfishing-focused bill is headed to the President’s desk to be enacted into law. On Monday, December 17, the U.S. Senate passed the Modern Fish Act (S. 1520) by unanimous consent, which was followed just days later by House passage on Wednesday, December 19.

The Modern Fish Act, introduced by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Congressman Garret Graves (R-La.), will finally recognize in federal law the differences between recreational and commercial fishing and put federal fisheries management on a commonsense path to improving the way our fisheries are managed.

What does this mean for anglers?

  • America’s 11 million saltwater anglers have been penalized for decades by outdated rules meant for commercial fishing. The Modern Fish Act will allow federal fisheries managers to implement management techniques better suited to the nature of recreational fishing. These management tools are already very successful in managing recreational fisheries at the state level.

  • By encouraging the inclusion of state-driven data collection programs and electronic reporting, the Modern Fish Act aims to improve the accuracy and timeliness of anglers’ harvest estimates, and ultimately better align fishing regulations with what anglers are actually catching.

  • The Modern Fish Act requires the National Academies of Sciences and the U.S. Government Accountability Office to conduct in-depth studies in areas that affect public access to America’s public fisheries resources, specifically the allocation review process in mixed-use fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic and the effects of Limited Access Privilege Programs outside of the Pacific and North Pacific regions. These reports, which will be issued to policymakers over the next two years, will help inform future decisions on fisheries management.

Passage of this landmark legislation was made possible by the industry’s broad base of bipartisan support on Capitol Hill and the hundreds of thousands of advocates across the nation who made their voices heard over the past two years. The recreational fishing and boating community appreciates the commitment of the 115th Congress to improve the nation’s fisheries management system, and we look forward to continuing this work with congressional leaders who understand the conservation, economic and social benefits of recreational fishing to the nation.

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