The Modern Fish Act is on the books after President Donald Trump’s New Year’s Eve signature became the last step in a near five-year struggle by sportfishing, conservation and boating interests to improve the methods the federal fisheries staff use to manage recreational fishing and the species available to the 11 million anglers in that sector.

“The Modern Fish Act is a big step forward in recognizing the value of today’s recreational fishing,” Boat Owners Association of The United States spokesman David Kennedy said. “It will help improve public access to America's federal waters and management of fish stock, promote conservation of natural marine resources, and spur economic growth by fixing key issues in the law governing marine fisheries.”

Kennedy’s group was among several major national organizations pushing the U.S. Congress for action to rectify the imbalance in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s handling of fishery issues across the country. Others in the group included the American Sportfishing Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Center for Sportfishing Policy, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Coastal Conservation Association.

Equally as important for the future of Louisiana’s recreational offshore anglers is the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s Amendment 50, the move to grant the five Gulf states management of red snapper and, possibly, other reef fishes in both state and federal waters.

The council has scheduled a webinar for 5 p.m. Jan. 17 to outline each of the amendment’s sections and options, and the GMFMC will accept written comments to a deadline of 4 p.m. Jan. 22. You can access the comment page on the council’s website” gulfcouncil.org, or email: gulfcouncil@gulfcouncil.org.

The council held a public hearing Dec. 10 in Baton Rouge, the only one in Louisiana (Mississippi and Alabama had only one each, too), and the schedule became a point of contention since there were four held in Florida and three in Texas.

All this attention comes ahead of the full council meeting Jan. 28-31 in Orange Beach, Alabama when the issue appears headed for a vote.

And, as of Jan. 1, the Gulf Council has its recreational and commercial fishing regs, including size restrictions and daily limits on a new “Fish Rules” app. Of course, it’s available for Apple and Android cellular devices. It’ll be a good addition to the