WASHINGTON, D.C. — A congressional vote on The Modern Fish Act (H.R. 200) scheduled for June 26 was delayed, according to initial news reports out of Washington, D.C. The vote on a federal bill aiming to make changes in the way U.S. fisheries are managed might now be scheduled after the Fourth of July recess.
Delay on the House vote was first mentioned on Twitter by the Center for Sportfishing Policy, which supports The Modern Fish Act.
“The U.S. House schedule has shifted this week…meaning H.R. 200, including the Modern Fish Act, likely will be considered on the House floor shortly after Fourth of July recess,” Center for Sportfishing Policy stated on its Twitter page, June 26.
The Modern Fish Act proposes to make changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, or MSA, a law governing fish populations in federal waters.
Support over the proposed MSA changes have been divisive, with some claiming the Modern Fish Act would enhance federal marine waters and conservation efforts, while others argue H.R. 200, if enacted, would actually reverse advances made in fishery management.
One of those groups urging the House of Representatives to vote against The Modern Fish Act is Pew Charitable Trusts.
“H.R. 200 will exempt many fish stocks from having catch limits, leading to an increased risk of overfishing,” campaign literature published by Pew Charitable Trusts stated. “In addition, it adds broad loopholes in the requirement to rebuild overfished populations as soon as possible.”
The advocacy group known as Keep America Fishing, however, stated The Modern Fish Act would benefit the country’s 11 million saltwater anglers.
“The Modern Fish Act will improve access to America’s federal marine waters and promote fisheries conservation,” a pro-Modern Fish Act statement posted on Keep America Fishing’s website stated. “Rather than continuing to manage recreational fishing in the same way as commercial fishing – much like the proverbial square peg and the round hole – this comprehensive package will provide federal managers with the tools and data they need to effectively manage America’s 11 million saltwater anglers.”
An opinion published in Sportfishing Magazine stated The Modern Fish Act would “finally give anglers the recognition we deserve under federal law.”
“Passage of H.R. 200 will take us one step closer to updating our nation’s primary marine fisheries law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, to finally recognize saltwater recreational fishing’s social, economic and conservation benefits to the nation,” the opinion, authored by Center for Sportfishing Policy President Jeff Angers and published in Sportfishing Magazine on June 23, stated.
Angers added The Modern Fish Act would allow for alternative management approached successfully implemented in other jurisdictions to also be used at the federal level. The Modern Fish Act would also improve recreational data collection and access issues, according to Angers.
Yet another opinion piece published in the Hartford Courant stated The Modern Fish Act would be harmful to recreational fishing.
“Contrary to its name, the proposed Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 or Modern Fish Act, is a big step backward and goes against what’s right for our marine resources. It would make it easier to reverse hard quotas on fishing that [has] helped restore stocks of species that were overfished,” Scott Bennett, the manager of Compleat Angler in Darien, Connecticut, wrote.
BoatUS, meanwhile, urged anglers to express their support of The Modern Fish Act via a June 21 tweet.
“Urge Congress to support The Modern Fish Act to improve access to America’s federal waters, promote conservation of natural marine resources, and spur economic growth,” the BoatUS tweet stated.
Angler Joey Sikorski took to Twitter on June 27 to express his opposition to The Modern Fish Act.
“All I see is big companies pushing #ModernFishAct and folks not actually realizing the details of it,” Sikorski, whose Twitter handle is @golfinjoe24, tweeted. “Take 5-10 minutes to actually read about it and the repercussions of it for the long haul. It’s not all buttery sweet as it sounds. I want to keep a sustainable recourse. #voteno”
Photo Credit: Greg McFall/ONMS