The National Marine Manufacturers Association, alongside numerous industry groups, conservationists and anglers, are commending the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources for advancing H.R. 4528, a bill to amend the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012, sponsored by Congressman Darren Soto (D-Fla.). An identical bill (S. 396) passed the U.S. Senate on Oct. 2, 2017.
The Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 banned the importation of all billfish caught by foreign fleets into the continental United States and, perhaps most importantly, set an example for other countries to pursue similar conservation efforts once thought impossible.
However, questions arose over whether the same prohibitions on foreign-caught billfish imposed by the bill also applied to billfish caught commercially in Hawaii. If commercially caught billfish could be transported from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland, it would circumvent the intent of the conservation measure.
H.R. 4528 and S. 396 simply clarify that billfish landed in Hawaii must be retained there. Implemented as originally intended, the law should make it easier for the U.S. to establish a greater leadership role for the international protection of billfish.
The coalition of groups supporting the Billfish Conservation Act includes American Sportfishing Association, Center for Sportfishing Policy, Coastal Conservation Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, International Game Fish Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, OCEARCH, The Billfish Foundation and Wild Oceans.