Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and Congressman Jeff Miller (R-FL) teamed up with 11 additional Members of Congress to introduce bi-partisan legislation in the Senate and House—The Billfish Conservation Act of 2011—that will help restore billfish populations that are badly depleted by commercial overfishing. By protecting these magnificent fish from overfishing, this legislation will lead to the long-overdue recovery of billfish.
Rob Kramer, President of the International Game Fish Association said, “Several billfish species are threatened or nearly threatened with extinction, according to a recent assessment by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This is a wonderful step by Congress to recover billfish and create new jobs in the sportfishing and marine economy.”
According to Ken Hinman, President of the National Coalition for Marine Conservation, a long time advocate for bill fish, “The Billfish Conservation Act of 2011 makes it clear that the future of billfish is not for sale.” Hinman added, “Hats off to Congressman Jeff Miller, Senator David Vitter, and the bi-partisan co-sponsors of the legislation for making sure there will always be plenty of billfish in the sea, for this and future generations of anglers.”
The legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR), Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC), Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA), Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME), Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL), and Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK).
In the Senate, the legislation was introduced by Senator David Vitter (R-LA), Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Senator John McCain (R-AZ), and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). It would prohibit the sale of all billfish (marlin, sailfish and spearfish) in the United States, while still allowing for traditional fisheries within the State of Hawaii and the Pacific Insular Area. Swordfish are not included in the prohibition.
Marlin, sailfish and spearfish, collectively called billfish, are some of the world’s most majestic marine fish. They are apex predators that play a critical role in maintaining healthy ocean ecosystems. Billfish are also highly esteemed by we recreational anglers the world over, and catch-and-release fisheries for these species support many marine jobs and generate billions of dollars to the U.S. economy.
Unfortunately, the world’s billfish stocks are seriously imperiled from non-U.S. commercial fishing. Earlier this month, the IUCN announced that, as a result of these population declines, blue and white marlin are now threatened and striped marlin is nearly threatened with extinction.
Billfish are primarily caught as by-catch in non-U.S. commercial tuna and swordfish fisheries, but the by-catch is harvested and sold internationally, with the United States serving as the world’s largest importer of billfish. For nearly two decades, the U.S. has had a ban on the sale of Atlantic-caught billfish, yet no such ban exists for Pacific-caught billfish. This Pacific Ocean loophole also creates a black market for Atlantic-caught billfish because there is no way to effectively enforce the distinction. Other countries continue to sell billfish in the U.S. through this loophole. The Billfish Conservation Act of 2011 closes that loophole.
The commercial sale of billfish in the U.S. contributes very little to our commercial fishing industry. Billfish account for just 0.07% of the total annual revenue from all commercial fishing in the U.S. There are many sustainable alternatives for restaurants and retailers to offer in place of billfish; thus most restaurants have taken marlin and other billfish off the menu.
THE CONGRESS NEEDS TO GET THEIR OWN PERSONAL ACT IN ORDER BEFORE TAKING ON ISSUES SUCH AS THE ABOVE ...
OUR GOVERNMENT IS AND HAS BEEN AN EMBARRASSMENT FOR MANY YEARS NOW GOING BACK TO THE KENNEDY-MARILYN MONROE INTERSECTION ON TO BILL AND HIS CIGARCAPADES .....NOT TO MENTION THEY CAN'T SPEND OUR MONEY WISELY AND WITHIN THE CONFINES OF A BALANCED BUDGET SO I DANG SURE CAN NOT SUPPORT ANYTHING THESE OUTLAWS BRING TO THE TABLE.....
AND WE WANT CONGRESS TO PASS A LAW CONCERNING OUR FISHERY? THEY CAN'T MANAGE THEIR OWN PRIVATE LIVES MUCH LESS OUR COUNTRY
MY GOD HOW HAVE WE ALLOWED THIS TO CONTINUE OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN?
Marty, there is nothing in what you said that I disagree with. There are no winners in our Gov's most recent theatrics. But, we have to start somewhere and this proposal is at least a step in the right direction. There is really no good reason why marlin or sailfish meat should be on menus.
Atlantic billfish are already prohibited from commercial sale in the US, so this will do nothing to help them.
As I have posted elsewhere in these forums, Atlantic blue marlin and Atlantic white marlin are on a trajectory to reach extinction - yes extinction - by about 2017. This includes the entire North and South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico - everything!
I disagree, this bill will stop importation from the Pacific, with the notable exception of Hawaii, and will do a LOT to help. Closing down California will be a great thing.
My post above referred to Atlantic billfish, not Pacific.
I stand corrected then.
Good news, the Billfish Conservation Act was approved by the House of representatives this week. Now we must assure the Senate does the same.