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US takes big step in billfish conservation

US-BASED Marlin magazine reports that American recreational anglers and ocean conservationists have scored a big victory in Congress with the Billfish Conservation Act passing overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives.

The bill that will help restore billfish populations and improve recreational fishing opportunities while creating jobs and other economic benefits, was introduced in the House by Florida Congressman Jeff Miller (R-FL) and has since received overwhelming bi-partisan support. The bill still must pass the Senate where it has the support of Florida Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, 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.”

Kramer commends Florida Congressman Jeff Miller for everything he’s done for marine jobs and recreational anglers in Florida and throughout the country. “Now we look forward to working with our Senate champions to pass this historic legislation,” he adds.

Australia’s game anglers will no doubt take a keen interest in the US’s enlightened approach to preserving its billfish fishery. In stark contrast, the lack of action by the federal Government and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority to address the slaughter of striped marlin by longliners every summer continues to be a source of great angst amongst Australia’s gamefishing community.  

Read more about the Billfish Conservation Act HERE.

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