On July 11, the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Rep. Don Young (R-AK), passed a bipartisan bill on marine fisheries law that includes recreational fishing industry input for the first time.

The bill aims to increase fishing access and conservation efforts by incorporating modern management approaches, science and technology to guide future decisions. However, before it goes into effect, it will still need to pass in the Senate.

This bill, H.R. 200, included recreational saltwater fishing priorities through the Modern Fish Act, or the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017, that was included by the House Committee on Natural Resources on December 13, 2017.

This journey for the recreational fishing industry to be heard has been fought long and hard for the last several years.

In 2014, the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management presented “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries” to federal policy holders. It identified the main priorities of the recreational fishing and boating community. Among other actions, they called for:

  • A national policy for recreational fishing
  • A revised approach to saltwater recreational fisheries management that promotes both conservation and access
  • Allocation of marine fisheries for the greatest benefit to the nation
  • Reasonable latitude in stock rebuilding timelines
  • A process for cooperative management
  • Managing for the forage base

The Commission is also referred to as the Morris-Deal Commission for co-chairs Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boat Group.

Many of these recommendations are included in H.R. 200. This legislation addresses many of the challenges faced by recreational anglers, including allowing alternative management tools for recreational fishing, reexamining fisheries allocations and improving recreational data collection.

Source: Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and The Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management