Modern Fish Act

Fishing is a way of life and a pastime that runs generations deep for so many Americans. Most days, it's a chance to get out on the water and escape the chaotic elements of life. The average angler is rarely, if at all, paying any attention to the scientific and legal factors going into how and where he or she can fish. So why does legislation and regulation actually matter for recreational anglers?

bass fish

Much of the debate surrounding regulation stems back to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the primary law governing marine fisheries in federal waters. MSA was enacted in 1976 to combat rampant over-fishing, particularly from foreign commercial vessels, and promote conservation of healthy fish stocks. Despite the success of MSA, it fails to recognize significant differences with the recreational fishing industry. Commercial fishing management requires precise, up-to-date biological and harvest data, which many recreational fisheries lack. This leads to the restrictions anglers see on many species, such as red snapper, amberjack, and triggerfish.

Fortunately, a solution is on the horizon. In July, 2017, six U.S. Senators, led by Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), introduced S. 1520, the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act, more commonly known as the Modern Fish Act. This bipartisan bill addresses the recreational fishing community’s priorities for improving MSA in a way that finally takes recreational fishing into account. A similar bill, H.R. 200, was introduced in the House earlier in the year by Representatives Garret Graves (R-La.), Gene Green (D-Texas), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.)

Modern Fish Act ties together management and data collection reforms that will better align federal fisheries management with recreational fishing. Some key provisions of Modern Fish Act are:

  • Promoting consideration of new data collection methods to potentially improve fisheries management and conservation
  • Modifying annual catch limit requirements for more adaptive approaches
  • Allowing for improved science and management of Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery

Modern Fish Act has strong bipartisan support in Washington, but it needs your help so that it can make it to the president's desk. Click the link below to send a pre-written letter to your legislators urging them to pass this piece of legislation and give recreational fishing the attention it deserves.