Billfish Policy Update – July 2018

To keep you up to date and for your convenience, we have summarized some of the latest policies that effect billfish and our community.

  1. Federal Legislation to close a loophole in the Billfish Conservation Act (BCA), which ensures all billfish landed in Hawaii remain there and not be allowed into the continental U.S., continues to make progress. The Senate S-396, passed in October 2017.  In June 2018 the House version, H.R. 4528, passed that chamber’s Natural Resources Committee. There is still work to be done but this is a good step in the right direction.
  2. Reauthorization of the nation’s primary fishery management law, Magnuson-Stevens Act, continues. The House passed H.R. 200 Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act, which included provisions of H.R. 2013 – Modern Fish Act.  H.R. 200 received strong support from the recreational fishing and boating community, but strong opposition from environmental organizations that claim it ignores science and conservation.  Just like the previous policy for the BCA, this is progress but it will still need approval in the Senate. In the Senate, S – 1520 Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act, remains on the calendar.
  3. New on TBF’s radar is NMFS Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management Draft Implementation Plans for highly migratory species, which includes priority actions and milestones for the next 5 years, is under review by TBF.  Because marlin and tunas swim long distances making their ecosystem very extensive, managing that system will be a challenge.
  4. Lastly, the Pacific Fishery Management Council recently convened and had several recommendations that affect offshore anglers.

The Council recommended actions on:

  • revisions to the draft Swordfish Management and Monitoring Plan;
  • revised range of options in Deep-Set Buoy Gear fishery relating to a number of limited entry permits and manner for phased-in distribution;
  • review of methodologies for setting and evaluating bycatch in large mesh drift gillnet fishery; and
  • recommended the U.S. oppose proposals to increase catch limits for Pacific bluefin tuna at the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) and Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) Northern Committee meetings.

Keep up to date on all policy effecting billfish and other associated highly migratory species by signing up for TBF’s e-newsletter here.