Billfish Conservation Act signed into law
New law clears the way for greater worldwide billfish conservation measures
WASHINGTON, DC – A remarkable effort to raise protections for billfish was rewarded last week when the Billfish Conservation Act was signed into law after an extended campaign by a coalition of marine conservation groups. The Act bans the importation of all billfish caught by foreign fleets into the continental United States and, perhaps most importantly, sets an example for other countries to pursue similar conservation efforts once thought impossible.
“Passing legislation of this kind, in this political environment, is no easy task and we commend the International Game Fish Association and the National Coalition for Marine Conservation for their leadership in successfully shepherding this bill through Congress,” said Pat Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association.
The new law will prevent an estimated 30,000 billfish per year from being imported into the U.S. mainland from other countries. As the number one importer of billfish in the world, U.S. calls for greater billfish protection in international fishery management circles in the past were often met with skepticism, and disregarded. The new law should make it easier for the U.S. to establish a leadership role for the international conservation of billfish.
"Recreational anglers and ocean conservationists have been the primary supporters behind the Billfish Conservation Act," IGFA President Rob Kramer commented, "and I am confident that with this strong step by the United States, we will be able to raise support for more robust measures elsewhere."
The coalition of groups supporting the Billfish Conservation Act included American Sportfishing Association, Center for Coastal Conservation, Coastal Conservation Association, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Keep America Fishing, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and OCEARCH.
“Closing off this market and removing the lucrative bounty on these majestic fish for foreign fleets is a big victory for conservation,” said Murray. “This legislation is a critical first step in an ongoing campaign to recover and enhance billfish populations worldwide. It is a great win for stewardship.”