The Modern Fish Act (MFA), signed into law at the end of 2018, is to improve recreational fishing landings data, increase allocation of fish to anglers by expanding access in mixed-use (commercial and recreational both targeting the same species) fisheries, re-evaluate limited access systems and provide greater flexibility to fishery managers. Flexibility is to be achieved by removing the current hard recovery deadlines (as “short as possible” and “not to exceed ten years”) and establishing recovery deadlines to be “as short as practicable.”
Access for 11 million saltwater recreational anglers to fish is essential for the sport and economics of related businesses, but rational management measures and standards are needed. The previous recovery deadlines were arbitrary. The recreational fishing and boating industry will work to help develop new realistic standards with fishery council members.
Billfish anglers are not likely to be impacted by current standards. While Atlantic billfish are overfished, their management is led by international agreement, which includes the U.S. government. Government agreed upon international measures are implemented in the U.S. via a fishery management plan. Pacific blue marlin and striped marlin, managed by U.S. federal fishery management councils on the west coast and in Hawaii, international agreed upon measures implemented in the U.S. take drive their management.