Fish Act is worthy of support

This article originally appeared in the Baton Rouge Advocate. To view the original page, click here.

Baton Rouge fisherman Gary Krouse shows off this near 15-pound red snapper he caught during 2017’s extended recreational red snapper season. Private recreational anglers will have another chance at an extended season in federal and state seasons now that federal fisheries managers approved the state’s application for an Exempted Fishing Permit for this year and 2019.

Kendall Dix’s letter regarding the pending updates to our nation’s primary law governing marine fisheries is misleading and inaccurate.

The Modern Fish Act (S. 1520) addresses the serious challenges facing America’s 11 million saltwater recreational anglers — most of whom fish in the southeastern region of the United States. But the consequences of our failed fisheries management system reach far beyond this region. The effects of bad policy ripple throughout the country and threaten the 440,000 jobs supported by this industry, precisely why the bill enjoys broad bipartisan support from Senators representing coastal and interior states.

Critics of the Modern Fish Act frame the bill as an attempt to create legislative loopholes that would allow for overfishing. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This landmark legislation will add tools to the management toolbox to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of recreational fisheries management. The bill will also improve fisheries data collection by updating the way federal managers collect data from the recreational sector (currently by landline phone surveys!). Better data means better science-based decision making, which translates to more responsible fisheries management.

While the House version of the Modern Fish Act, originally introduced by U.S. Rep. Garret Graves was included in a broader fisheries bill (H.R. 200) that passed the U.S. House in July, the Modern Fish Act in the Senate is independent and strictly focuses on improvements to the way recreational fisheries are managed. This make-believe scenario of conferencing H.R. 200 and S. 1520 behind closed doors is nothing but a scare tactic. The bills are different and moving through Congress separately.

The recreational fishing and boating community support the Modern Fish Act because we are conservationists, dedicated to ensuring the future of our beloved pastime. We demonstrate our commitment by contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to conservation each year through direct donations, licensing fees and excise taxes on our fishing equipment.

Without healthy fisheries, there is no future for recreational fishing. The Modern Fish Act builds upon our nation’s marine conservation successes while improving the current one-size-fits-all federal fisheries management system to account for the differences between recreational and commercial fishing.

Don’t be fooled by the scare tactics of a few defenders of the status quo. Join us in applauding Gulf Coast senators for supporting S.1520, the Modern Fish Act.

Jeff Angers
President, Center for Sportsfishing Policy
Baton Rouge