New Legislation Promises Greater Protections for Billfish

Bipartisan bill would remove ambiguity from Billfish Conservation Act

billfish sunset
Four U.S. senators filed a bill last week to clarify an existing law that protects billfish.Scott Salyers / Sport Fishing

United States senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, of Florida, and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) filed a bill last week to raise protections for billfish. The move has been praised by conservationists and anglers.

The Billfish Conservation Act was passed in 2012 but the Center for Sportfishing Policy said there was ambiguity in the legislation's wording and that prevented the government from properly implementing it. Before the Billfish Conservation Act was passed, the U.S. ranked first in billfish imports. The law banned the importation of all billfish caught by foreign fleets into the continental United States and set the path for other countries to adopt similar laws. However, there were questions regarding whether the restrictions on foreign-caught billfish also applied to billfish caught commercially in Hawaii.

The legislation introduced last week clarifies that billfish caught and landed in Hawaii cannot be brought to the U.S. mainland. That's a decision the International Game Fish Association, among other groups, supports.

“On behalf of the millions of saltwater recreational anglers, thank you for working to ensure the United States is the leader in billfish conservation," said Rob Kramer, IGFA president.

“(Coastal Conservation Association) always supported a complete prohibition on the sale of billfish to U.S. markets, and we are grateful to Senators Nelson, Rubio, Manchin and Moran for clarifying that prohibition,” said Patrick Murray, the organization's president.

“This effort will have a measurable impact on the conservation of these incredible fish and strengthen America’s commitment to sound fisheries management," said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy.

Read the full press release on the Center for Sportfishing Policy website.

To see some beautiful billfish sights, click on the link below to Sport Fishing's gallery of amazing offshore action.