The Billfish Conservation Act has now passed the Senate and is headed to President Obama’s desk for his signature. Very few bills have become law this Congress due to partisan disagreements, but the Billfish Conservation Act has been overwhelmingly supported by both parties in both chambers.
Senator David Vitter (R-LA) sponsored the original bill in the Senate, and was assisted by Florida Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) in getting it passed.
Marlin, sailfish and spearfish, collectively called billfish, are apex predators that play a critical role in maintaining healthy ocean ecosystems. Billfish are also highly esteemed by recreational anglers the world over, and catch-and-release fisheries for these species support many marine jobs and generate billions of dollars to the U.S. economy.
The support of these key Congressmen has bolstered the campaign to conserve imperiled billfish species that the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) and the National Coalition for Marine Conservation (NCMC) began in 2008. Their joint effort to urge the United States to take stronger action to protect these valuable and magnificent fish has also raised awareness in fishing communities on the importance of recreational angling in the country’s – and the world’s – economies.
“Our congressional champions — especially Senator David Vitter, Senator Bill Nelson and Representative Jeff Miller (R-FL) — are absolute heroes to recreational anglers,” said IGFA president Rob Kramer. “In addition, the leadership and members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus have been a uniting and driving force toward enactment of this important legislation since day one. The Billfish Conservation Act will 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.”
“The U.S. already has the world’s strongest conservation measures in place for billfish, the lions and tigers of the sea,” said Ken Hinman, President of the National Coalition for Marine Conservation. “This legislation will help us seek similar measures internationally, where commercial overfishing has severely depleted populations of these magnificent ocean giants.”