Pres. Trump signs Modern Fish Act into law

Advocates say national fishing legislation will benefit saltwater anglers across the country.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Not even a partial federal government shutdown prevented the Modern Fish Act from becoming law. Pres. Donald J. Trump officially signed the Modern Fish Act on Dec. 31, meaning the landmark legislation is now officially on the books.

Fishing advocates have hailed the bill, which is officially known as the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2018, as a landmark law that distinguishes between recreational and commercial fishing interests. Policymakers and fishery managers, for example, would be provided with certain tools to better manage federal fisheries, under the new law.

An informational piece published by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) about the Modern Fish Act stated federal law never featured dedicated policies to benefit the nation’s 11 million saltwater anglers.

“As an industry, we contribute [more than] $70 billion to the economy each year and support 455,000 American jobs all over the country,” the ASA online flyer stated. “In spite of these impressive numbers, when it comes to federal management, our sport is frequently overlooked.

“Federal laws have never properly addressed the importance of recreational fishing,” the ASA flyer stated. “This has led to shortened or even canceled seasons, reduced bag limits and unnecessary restrictions.”

Organizations such as the Center for Sportfishing Policy, National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), Environmental Defense Fund and ASA all expressed long-standing support for the Modern Fish Act.

There has been some opposition to the bill, however. Opponents have stated the Modern Fish Act actually guts stringent overfishing protections put in place by the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

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