Improving Federal Saltwater Fisheries Management – Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Modern Fish Act do for me?

If you fish in federally-managed saltwater, odds are you’ve been frustrated by shortened seasons, reduced bag limits, and unwarranted restrictions.  From summer flounder in New Jersey to red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico, anglers have been hampered by out-of-date data, quotas, and in some cases, questionable management strategies.

The Modern Fish Act is designed to address these issues by creating a comprehensive package of regulations specifically aimed at adapting the federal system that has historically focused on commercial fishing to now meet the needs of the nation’s 11 million saltwater anglers.

Check out this infographic for more information.

How are federal saltwater fisheries managed currently?

Since 1976, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, or MSA, has been the primary statute governing the nation’s marine fisheries in federal waters, which in most states are 3-200 miles offshore. The MSA has made solid progress in ending overfishing, rebuilding depleted fish stocks, protecting essential fish habitat and a variety of other improvements to the nation’s marine resources.

What’s wrong with the MSA?

The MSA is primarily focused on commercial fishing. The resulting management system is based on commercial fisheries management concepts like “maximum sustainable yield” and poundage-based “annual catch limits” that are monitored in real time. Given the nature of recreational fishing, which is based more on the experience than maximizing harvest, this type of management is generally not feasible or appropriate.

Why is recreational fishing important?

Saltwater recreational fishing contributes $70 billion annually to the nation’s economy and supports 455,000 jobs in every corner of the country – not just states with access to saltwater.

What makes the Modern Fish Act different?

The Modern Fish Act comprehensively addresses the recreational fishing community’s priorities with federal fisheries management including allowing alternative management for recreational fishing, reexamining fisheries allocations, smartly rebuilding fishery stocks, establishing exemptions for where annual catch limits don’t fit and improving recreational data collection. The bill aims to benefit fishing access and conservation by incorporating modern management approaches, science and technology to guide decision-making.

Who supports the Modern Fish Act?

A broad coalition of groups including the America Sportfishing Association, Center for Sportfishing Policy, Coastal Conservation Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, International Game Fish Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Recreational Fishing Alliance, The Billfish Foundation, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.