U.S. Senate expected to vote on Modern Fish Act soon

Debate continues, however, of whether legislative update would truly benefit commercial and recreational fisheries.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The possible selection of Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court might be stealing all of the headlines in our nation’s capital, but whether the federal judge fills the seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy is not the only item on the Senate’s docket. Senators are expected to vote on S. 1520, also known as the Modern Fish Act, soon.

  1. 1520 was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar in early June but recent news reports indicate a vote on the Modern Fish Act, which would update various elements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, could come any day now.

Whether the Modern Fish Act would benefit recreational fishing interests has been the subject of intense debates ever since federal legislators began considering changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Some are stating the Modern Fish Act is a necessary and positive change for the nation’s anglers. Others have called S. 1520 a “Trojan horse.”

BoatUS, one of the organizations supporting S. 1520, called the Modern Fish Act “an important, positive change to federal laws involving saltwater fishing.”

“The Modern Fish Act … will help improve public access to America’s federal waters, promote conservation of natural marine resources, and spur economic growth by fixing key issues in the law governing marine fisheries,” a BoatUS campaign urging anglers to take action stated. “The Modern Fish Act is a comprehensive package specifically aimed at addressing the needs of the nation’s 11 million saltwater anglers. It will improve management of fish stock, give better access to America’s federal waters, and promote conservation of our shared natural marine resources.”

Anglers Journal TV host John Brownlee penned an op-ed in favor of the Modern Fish Act for Florida Business Daily. Brownlee said the Modern Fish Act is “commonsense” legislation.

“This legislation will improve access for millions of anglers by updating an antiquated management process,” Brownlee wrote. “The Modern Fish Act will work by improving recreational data collection, allow more collaboration between federal and state managers and anglers, review allocations of our public fisheries, and most of all, properly distinguish the activities of recreational and commercial fishing under the law.”

Kendall Dix, who identifies himself as a fisheries organizer with the Gulf Restoration Network, claimed, in a letter to Baton Rouge’s The Advocate, the Modern Fish Act would actually harm fishing interests. He also accused federal legislators of lacking transparency.

“There’s a Trojan horse outside the gates of the Senate,” Dix wrote. “The Senate is currently under pressure to vote on S. 1520, the so-called Modern Fish Act, which would help gut the Magnuson-Stevens Act, our nation’s landmark bill that put a halt to the rampant overfishing in the 20th century.

“Many fish species collapsed in the 1980s, and now the one law that helped bring them back is under attack,” Dix continued.

The House of Representatives passed its version of the Modern Fish Act in July. The Log and FishRap News will update its coverage of the Modern Fish Act as the bill makes its way out of the legislature.

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