On August 1, the House Committee on Natural Resources marked up the Billfish Conservation Act (H.R. 2706), a legislative priority for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus of the 112th Congress. This legislation was introduced by Representative Jeff Miller, Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) and 20 of the 25 cosponsors on the bill are members of the CSC, including all of the House CSC leadership. H.R. 2706 would close U.S. commercial markets to foreign-caught Pacific billfish, Atlantic billfish are already prohibited, thus preventing their catch and importation. However, catch-and-release recreational angling for billfish generates many millions of dollars in economic benefits to the U.S. economy each year; these benefits would grow with the passage of this important legislation. In addition, a prohibition on the sale of Pacific-caught billfish will have virtually no detrimental impacts to America’s fishing industry. In order to respect traditional fisheries this legislation will not apply to billfish sold within the State of Hawaii or the Pacific Insular Area; additionally, this ban would have little, if any, impact on America’s seafood industry since billfish account for less than 0.1% of U.S. seafood sales in a market that is highly elastic due to the large number of sustainable alternatives and no U.S. commercial fishing boats target billfish The bill was ordered to be reported to the House floor by unanimous consent.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will keep you up to date on the progress of H.R. 2706.