Billfish Conservation Act Passes U.S. Senate
depleted populations of these magnificent ocean giants.”The successful progression of the bill in the 112th Congress has also come with the help of several other recreational fishing organizations including the Center for Coastal Conservation, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Keep America Fishing and numerous other NGOs from the environmental community.
“The assistance of these groups and their members has been vital to the Billfish Conservation Act,” Kramer also said. “The voice of the sport fishing community has been loud in Washington, and we are thankful to the bill’s supporters for making it heard.”
The legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR), Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC), Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA), Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME), Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL), and Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK).
In the Senate, the legislation was introduced by Senator David Vitter (R-LA), and co-sponsored by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Senator John McCain (R-AZ), and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). It prohibits the sale of all billfish (marlin, sailfish and spearfish) in the United States, while still allowing for traditional fisheries within the State of Hawaii and the Pacific Insular Area. Swordfish are not included in the prohibition.
Marlin, sailfish and spearfish, collectively called billfish, are some of the world’s most majestic marine fish. They are apex predators that play a critical role in maintaining healthy ocean ecosystems. Billfish are also highly esteemed by recreational anglers the world over, and catch-and-release fisheries for these species support many marine jobs and generate billions of dollars to the U.S. economy.
Unfortunately, the world’s billfish stocks are seriously imperiled from non-U.S. commercial fishing. Recently, as a result of these population declines, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature listed blue and white marlin as threatened species and striped marlin as nearly threatened. Billfish are primarily caught as by-catch in non-U.S. commercial tuna and swordfish fisheries, but the by-catch is harvested and sold internationally, with the United States serving as the world’s largest importer of billfish.
There are many sustainable alternatives for restaurants and retailers to offer in place of billfish; thus most restaurants have taken marlin and other billfish off the menu.
About the International Game Fish Association:
IGFA is a not-for-profit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and the promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rule-making and record keeping with members in nearly 120 countries and territories. The association’s headquarters are in the 60,000 sq ft IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum in Dania Beach, Florida. Learn more at www.igfa.org.
About the National Coalition for Marine Conservation:
The National Coalition for Marine Conservation (NCMC), founded by conservation-minded anglers in 1973, is dedicated to keeping the ocean wild to preserve fishing opportunities for the future. The NCMC is based in Leesburg, Virginia. Learn more at www.wildoceans.org.