Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 (H.R. 2706). This bipartisan effort has been among the legislative priorities of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) for the 112th Congress and is hugely beneficial for the conservation of billfish populations.

The bill’s sponsor and CSC Co-Chair Representative Jeff Miller stated, “The successful passage of the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 is a huge victory for sportsmen and the economy, while at the same time promoting conservation efforts and supporting healthy ocean ecosystems. Thanks to the collaboration of members of the Sportsmen’s community, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, and the House Committee on Natural Resources, we can help restore a severely depleted fish population, preserve our nation’s fishing heritage and provide for an economic boost during a time when America needs it most.”

Billfish (marlin, sailfish and spearfish) populations have declined severely due to overfishing by non-U.S. commercial fishing fleets. In an effort to conserve billfish, H.R. 2706 prohibits the sale of these Pacific-caught billfish, except in the State of Hawaii, in order to respect traditional fisheries.

On August 24, a coalition of recreational angling groups, including the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation sent a letter to Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor and Minority Leader Pelosi urging them to schedule H.R. 2706 for passage under suspension of the rules as soon as possible after the bill passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee with unanimous consent on August 1.

“This is a major victory for the conservation of billfish populations which could not have been achieved without the hard work and dedication of the bipartisan leaders and members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus,” said CSF President Jeff Crane. “We thank our representatives in Congress for passing this important piece of pro-sportsmen’s legislation.”

The Billfish Conservation Act has also been introduced in the Senate (S. 1451) and is currently in the Committee on Science, Commerce and Transportation. With unanimous passage of this bill in the House achieved, our attention is now focused on Senate passage of the bill.

More than two decades ago, the United States banned the commercial sale and harvest of Atlantic-caught billfish. Catch-and-release recreational angling for billfish generates many millions of dollars in economic benefits to the U.S. economy each year, which will grow substantially with passage of this legislation.

Logo courtesy Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation

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