U.S. Senate Moves Forward On Billfish Act, Other Sportsmen’s Legislation

From American Sportfishing Association

Last week, the U.S. Senate voted in favor of two measures important to the sportfishing industry that will, among other things, conserve recreationally-important fish stocks, restore fish habitat and support fishing access. The sportfishing industry applauds the Senate for prioritizing the concerns of the recreational fishing community amidst a variety of other important legislation actions that must take place prior to the end of the year.

“At a time when partisan politics rule the day, it’s heartening to see that lawmakers can come together on important issues of interest to the nation’s 60 million anglers,” said Gordon Robertson, vice president of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). “Issues like conserving billfish populations and facilitating fishing access on public lands are not partisan issues, and we are grateful that the Senate took action in support of these and other priority legislative issues to the recreational fishing community.”

On its last day in session prior to the Presidential election, the Senate passed Senator David Vitter’s (R-La.) Billfish Conservation Act, a measure strongly supported by ASA and its partners, led by the International Game Fish Association. This bill will ban the commercial harvest and sale of Pacific-caught billfish, a measure already in place for Atlantic-caught billfish, thus helping to restore these recreationally-important fish. Identical legislation passed the House of Representatives on September 10, and the bill now awaits the President’s signature.

“The Billfish Conservation Act will help restore billfish populations and improve recreational fishing opportunities while concurrently creating jobs and other economic benefits,” said Robertson. “Senators Vitter and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Representative Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) played critical roles in seeing this bill through to passage, and the sportfishing industry thanks them for their leadership.”

The Senate also voted 84 to 7 in favor of the motion to proceed on the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012, introduced by John Tester (R-Mont.), which moves the legislative package one step closer to passage. The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 includes 19 bills that will benefit the sportfishing community, as well as recreational shooters and hunters.

“Many of ASA’s top legislative priorities are included in the Sportmen’s Act of 2012, and the recent action taken by the Senate tees up this bill for a vote when the Senate returns in November,” noted Robertson. “This historic legislation provides for increased access, habitat conservation, protection of traditional fishing equipment and improved fish and wildlife management. While the motion to proceed with this legislation is a positive step, we will continue to work to ensure that the Senate passes this monumental legislation before it adjourns later this year.”
More information on the Billfish Conservation Act and the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 is available at ASA’s angler advocacy website, KeepAmericaFishing.org.