The Billfish Conservation Act was signed by then-President Barack Obama in 2012 to ban the importation of all billfish caught by foreign fleets in the continental U.S.
U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) filed a bill last week to clear the full implement the law that protects billfish.
Some officials wondered if those same prohibitions on foreign caught billfish imposed from the bill also applied to billfish caught commercially in Hawaii. The new legislation states billfish landed in Hawaii must be kept on the Hawaiian Islands.
“CCA always supported a complete prohibition on the sale of billfish to U.S. markets,” Coastal Conservation Association President Patrick Murray said in a press release. “Closing off this market and removing the bounty on these majestic fish for foreign fleets is a big victory for conservation.’’
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The U.S. was the world’s number one importer of billfish until the Billfish Conservation Act.
The International Game Fish Association, Coastal Conservation Association, American Sportfishing Association, Center for Sportfishing Policy and National Marine Manufacturers Association are among the groups that support the Billfish Conservation Act.
“This effort will have a measurable impact on the conservation of these incredible fish and strengthen America’s commitment to sound fisheries management,” Center for Sportfishing Policy President Jeff Angers said.
The Billfish Conservation Act’s definition of “billfish” exempts swordfish, but includes: Black marlin, Blue marlin, Longbill spearfish, Mediterranean spearfish, Sailfish, Shortbill spearfish, Striped marlin, White marlin.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic will be held June 5-11 at the Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi. The Golden Nugget is the Billfish Classic host.