The U.S. Senate has passed legislation authored by Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker who said the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act will boost conservation efforts and benefit the local economies that depend on recreational fishing.
“I appreciate the hard work of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this bill passed, but there is still more work to be done. I look forward to continuing our efforts to modernize federal fishing policies on the Gulf Coast and to support our fishermen,” Wicker said.
The “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act” would encourage regional fishery management councils to update their policies for recreational anglers that access mixed-use fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. Current guidelines designed for commercial fishing operations prove difficult for recreational anglers to follow, sometimes resulting in severely restricted fishing seasons for these individuals.
Wicker said the legislation would also encourage the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop partnerships that improve its recreational fishing data collection and to incorporate data from sportsmen, which would be more timely and accurate than traditional data streams. If signed into law, Wicker says recreational fishing management will be improved by:
- Directing the GAO to conduct a study on the process for allocation reviews of mixed-use fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic fishery management councils;
- Encouraging councils to utilize alternative methods for managing recreational fisheries, such as fishing mortality targets or extraction rates as opposed to tonnage;
- Requiring the National Academy of Sciences to review Limited Access Privilege Programs (LAPP) to ensure they are fair and effective; and
- Improving data collection and analysis and utilizing new technologies for gathering recreational fisheries data, similar to the Mississippi Department of Marine Resource’s Tails n’ Scales program.