As saltwater anglers in Sportsman’s Paradise, we are blessed with abundant fisheries resources off our coast. Today, we are grateful to our members of Congress who understand the value of America’s fisheries and the public’s access to those resources.
On Dec. 19, Congress passed legislation known as the Modern Fish Act (S. 1520) to improve the way recreational fisheries are managed in federal waters nine to 200 nautical miles off Louisiana’s coast. The Modern Fish Act, championed by its lead sponsors, U.S. Rep. Garret Graves R-Baton Rouge, and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, now heads to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature.
This historic, bipartisan vote on the Modern Fish Act marks the first time a sport-fishing-focused bill has ever passed out of Congress and takes important steps toward updating the way recreational fisheries are managed at the federal level. America’s federal fisheries have for decades been managed by policies designed to manage commercial fishing. Therefore, one of America’s favorite pastimes often fell victim to regulations never suited to the nature of our sport.
As we head into the new year, anglers from coast to coast to coast can be proud of what the Modern Fish Act means for the future of recreational fishing. We are now on a path to better, more modern management and improved data collection on angler effort and harvest. Ultimately, these updates should help avoid the abrupt closures and inconsistent fishing regulations that have been plaguing many federally-managed recreational fisheries in the last several years.
I would like to thank Graves and his colleagues from Louisiana’s congressional delegation — in particular, Modern Fish Act co-sponsors U.S. Sens Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy and U.S. Reps. Clay Higgins, Ralph Abraham and Mike Johnson — who stood up for Louisiana’s 400,000 saltwater anglers on Capitol Hill and demanded that we have a seat at the table of fisheries management.
president, Center for Sportfishing Policy