Modern Fish Act Takes Major Step Forward

Senate Commerce Committee Passes Landmark Legislation with Bipartisan Support

Alexandria, VA – February 28, 2018 – Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation overwhelmingly approved S. 1520, the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 (Modern Fish Act). This legislation calls for critically important updates to the oversight of federal fisheries, including adding more tools to the management toolbox, improving data collection techniques, and examining some fishery allocations that are based on decades-old decisions.

Modern Fish Act

Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune is flanked by Modern Fish Act lead sponsors Senator Roger Wicker and Ranking Member Bill Nelson as members of the Commerce Committee consider the Modern Fish Act (S. 1520).

The Modern Fish Act was introduced in the Senate in July 2017 by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). It has since received strong bipartisan support from 12 cosponsors representing coastal and non-coastal states alike. In addition, a broad coalition of organizations representing the saltwater recreational fishing and boating community has endorsed the Modern Fish Act and highlighted the importance of updating the nation’s fisheries management system to more accurately distinguish between recreational and commercial fishing.

“The bipartisan leadership on display today in the Senate Commerce Committee will not soon be forgotten by America’s 11 million saltwater recreational anglers,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “We want to thank our many champions in Congress, particularly Sens. Wicker and Nelson, for recognizing the need for serious reforms to the broken federal fisheries management system. We look forward to working with congressional leaders in both chambers to get this legislation across the finish line.”

Through years of deliberation, the priorities of the recreational fishing and boating community were identified and presented to federal policy makers by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management. This group is also referred to as the Morris-Deal Commission, named for co-chairs Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boat Group. Many recommendations of the Morris-Deal Commission are addressed by the legislation passed today by the Senate Commerce Committee.

“The Modern Fish Act represents five years’ worth of input from our community and will increase the level of trust between America’s 11 million saltwater anglers and federal fisheries managers,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Recreational hunters and anglers have been at the forefront of resource conservation in this country for more than a century, and the Modern Fish Act gives recreational anglers an opportunity to continue to lead in conservation by improving upon data collection and stock assessments.”

“The bipartisan vote taken by the Senate Commerce Committee today demonstrates the nation’s broad support for federal fisheries management reform,” said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “We are proud to work with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to advance a common-sense policy that remains true to our conservation goals while promoting access to our nation’s healthy natural resources.”

  1. Truth

    Shame on OTW for this “article”. Don’t believe this garbage for a second. This act is being pushed through by companies trying to sell more boats. The result will be loopholes that allow overfishing and stocks will collapse.

    Hasn’t the rebound of the striper population since the 1980’s proven that the regulations work?

    • Erik Hoffner

      Have to agree with the “Truth” commenter, from my research as both an avid fisherman and a journalist, this proposed bill will not fix problems, it will result in fisheries that are more poorly managed, ie we all lose in the long run. I have also shared the Mongabay article noted by “Truth” with the OTW team in the past as I believe it contains the most important critiques. Modern Fish Act is more likely to lead to a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of fisheries, which is a tragically apt metaphor. Also it’s important to note that the ‘author’ of this article is not a person nor an OTW staffer, but is rather the lobbying arm of an industry trade association, the ASA, so this is more like a press release created by a publicist than an article containing straight information. They talk about fishing rights of all Americans but at its core is more aligned with corporate interests.

  2. Steve

    I’d suggest they launch an app to voluntarily collect info about fish caught (e.g. Size, Date, quantity, released or kept) in certain regions. It probably shouldn’t even support optional location tracking services so that people aren’t concerned their “secret fishing hole” may be compromised. Of course some people won’t buy-in, and that’s fine because I could even see a small majority of active recreational anglers using it it sometimes.

  3. Ken

    It is nauseating to think of the damage that has been done to our salt water fishing by the mindset of the groups pushing the modern fish act. Weakfish come to mind.
    The 2003 weakfish technical committee warned in their report that without the recommended 71% harvest reduction weakfish would be close to extinct by 2010. Sure enough by 2009 the endangered species act was being considered for weakfish. I was at the meetings . Most of the time I was the only true sport fisherman in the room. Under the guise of supporting recreational fishermen they gathered enough political capital to avoid any cuts to the weakfish harvest. 2009 Toms River, NJ ASMFC weakfish meeting. A grass roots movement of concerned sport fishermen filled the room. Calling for a total moratorium to save the weakfish. Even the commercial fishing representative supported the moratorium . The organized Recreational fishing organizations at the meeting did not support it ?? Definition of the Modern Fish act : short-term economic gain for a few at the expense of future generations of salt water fishermen.
    I challenge the Editors of ON The Water magazine to prove me wrong.

  4. Ken

    I see it wasn’t written by the ON The Water staff. For that reason I challenge the writer of this article to prove me wrong


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