A very important U.S. Senate Committee recently approved the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 (Modern Fish Act). In summary, this bipartisan legislation calls for updates to the oversight of federal fisheries, including adding more tools to the management toolbox, improving data collection techniques, and examining fishery allocations. This act may well help saltwater recreational fishermen, and is worthy of support.
Here are some specific highlights of the legislation to consider. The bill requires fishery managers in the southeastern U.S. to perform examinations of fishery allocations based on modern criteria. Historically, allocations between the commercial and recreational sectors have been rarely revisited, even as changes have occurred rapidly.
It also allows for recreational fisheries to be managed using new management tools–for example, seasonal closures and bag limits–instead of attempting to count hard annual landings of individual species. This is an extremely important component of the bill, since by current law a fishery must now be shut down completely if a species has been judged to have reached its Annual Catch Limit (ACL) as judged by fisheries managers on the basis of current management science.
The bill seeks to improve data and establish new data collection methods that may well improve both fisheries management and conservation. This has long been a point of contention between angler organizations and fisheries managers: how we count the recreational catch.
We hope Grady-White owners and enthusiasts will learn more about this legislation and possibly choose to join other recreational fishermen in support.
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