Billfish Conservation Act
The Billfish Conservation Act, H.R. 2706, passed overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives yesterday, handing a significant victory to recreational fishermen and conservationists across the country. The bill was introduced in the House by Florida Congressman Jeff Miller (R-FL) and has since received overwhelming bipartisan support.
The Act would prevent the importation and sale of Pacific-caught billfish in the U.S., except for those caught in Hawaii and the Pacific Insular Island Area, effectively closing off almost all U.S. Markets to billfish sale. The sale of Atlantic-caught billfish is already prohibited. The bill still must be approved in the Senate, but it has widespread support in that chamber as well, including both Florida Senators, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, as well as David Vitter of Louisiana and numerous other Senators from both parties.
Rob Kramer, President of the International Game Fish Association, said: “Now we are very close to getting the Billfish legislation to the President’s desk, which would help turn the tide on rapidly declining stocks of sailfish, marlin and spearfish. This is great news for recreational anglers and for people working in tourism, sportfishing and marine businesses.”
According to Ken Hinman, President of the National Coalition for Marine Conservation, “The U.S. already has the world’s strongest conservation measures in place for billfish. This legislation will help us seek similar measures internationally, where commercial overfishing for billfish has severely depleted populations.”
“Passage of The Billfish Conservation Act will be a step in the right direction toward reducing consumption of billfish in the United States,” said Ellen Peel, president of The Billfish Foundation.