BONUS EPISODE – Modern Fish Act Update

BONUS EPISODE – Modern Fish Act Update

ASA Conservation Director Mike Leonard

On Tuesday, June 26, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on H.R.200, more commonly known as the Modern Fish Act.  Due to necessary action on other issues, they postponed the vote until July 11.  Because of this postponement, we rallied the troops to bring you a special bonus episode dedicated entirely to the Modern Fish Act and what you need to know and do about it.

Mike Leonard, Conservation Director of the American Sportfishing Association joined us to give us an in-depth, but wonderfully understandable description of H.R. 200 and it’s potential impact on recreational fishing in the United States.  It’s a short conversation, but a necessity for all anglers who are interested in protecting recreational fishing.

Here are some points of interests for you regarding the Modern Fish Act:

In summary, H.R. 200 revises and reauthorizes through FY2022 the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA).*  Magnuson-Stevens was signed into law in 1976, and has adversely affected recreational angling for several years.

The Modern Fish Act:

  • Requires periodic reviews of mixed-use fisheries allocations (i.e. those fished by both the commercial and recreational sectors) in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. It’s a no-brainer that the way a public resource is divvied up should be periodically examined, but that is not happening now.
  • Clarifies that regional fishery management councils and NOAA Fisheries can implement management approaches such as harvest rate management that have been used successfully in some regions but that other regions have not even considered.
  • Requires a National Academy of Sciences study of how Limited Access Privilege Programs (conveniently nicknamed “catch share” programs) in mixed-use fisheries could be improved to reduce user conflicts, and places a hold on implementing any new Limited Access Privilege Programs until the study’s results are public.
  • Revises the rebuilding timeline requirement to ensure the timeframes are based on the biology of a depleted fishery, not an arbitrary 10-year rebuilding timeline. Anyone who supports science-based management should prefer this approach.
  • Authorizes the use of multi-year and multi-species annual catch limits, which is simply a codification of recent updates to NOAA Fisheries guidelines.
  • Requires NOAA Fisheries to respond if a state, regional fishery management council or interstate marine fisheries commission objects to an exempted fishing permit providing more clarity to the approval process.
  • Requires a study of how third-party data, such as state-collected data through electronic reporting systems — e.g. iSnapper in Texas, La Creel in Louisiana, Tails ‘n Scales in Mississippi, Outdoor AL in Alabama and iAngler in Florida — could improve fisheries data. For many offshore fisheries, the federal program that estimates angler harvest — the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) — does not provide data at the level of accuracy or timeliness needed for basic management, much less in-season management of various fisheries.
  • Tells NOAA Fisheries to implement the recommendations of the recent National Academy of Sciences review of MRIP and to follow up on key questions raised in the report, for example whether/how management could be better adapted to align with available data.

Jeff Angers, “Modern Fish Act 101”

Since the vote has been postponed until July 11, we encourage all anglers, regardless of where you’re located, to contact your representative and urge them to pass the Modern Fish Act.  As Mike told us, environmentalist groups are lobbying diligently to have this bill voted down.  We need to be heard on this issue!

Keep America Fishing has provided a very helpful page designed to get you in touch with your representative quickly and tell them you want them to pass the Modern Fish Act.

Contact them HERE

Here are some additional links for more information:

“Our Seat at the Table” – from Jeff Angers, president of Center for Sportfishing Policy

“Bill Helps Wisconsin Anglers” – from Paul Schluter, president of St. Croix Rods, courtesy Keep America Fishing

“It’s Time to Pass the Modern Fish Act” – from Wes Seigler, President/Founder of SEiGLER Fishing Reels, courtesy Keep America Fishing


* H.R. 200 — 115th Congress: Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act.” 2017. June 28, 2018 <>

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