Bi-partisan legislation introduced by Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and Congressman Jeff Miller (R-FL) gained a raft of additional co-sponsors in the Senate and House. Representative Steve Southerland (R-FL) agreed this week to co-sponsor HR 2706, The Billfish Conservation Act of 2011, that will help restore billfish populations that are badly depleted by commercial overfishing. The House bill now has 21 co-sponsors, including recent co-sponsors: Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA), Rep. Ven Buchanan (R-FL), Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Rep. Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR), rep. Thomas Rooney (R-FL), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA). IGFA and NCMC have asked the House Natural Resources and Senate Commerce committees for hearings on the respective bills promptly.
By protecting these magnificent fish from overfishing, this legislation will lead to the long-overdue recovery of billfish. “Several billfish species are in serious decline, according to a recent global assessment by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN),” said Rob Kramer, President of the International Game Fish Association. “This wave of new supporters in Congress is great news for recovering billfish and creating new jobs in the sportfishing and marine economy.”
According to Ken Hinman, President of the National Coalition for Marine Conservation, “It is great to see momentum for the Billfish Conservation Act of 2011. Now is the time to make it clear that the future of billfish is not for sale.”