Sportfishing community lauds bipartisan effort to conserve Gulf reef fish
Alexandria, Va. – November 21, 2019 – Today, the recreational fishing and boating community praised the Senate introduction of the DESCEND Act of 2019 by U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Doug Jones (D-Ala.). Also known as the “Direct Enhancement of Snapper Conservation and the Economy through Novel Devices Act of 2019,” the DESCEND Act would require commercial and recreational fishermen to possess a descending device rigged and ready for use or venting tool when fishing for reef fish in Gulf of Mexico federal waters.
A companion bill, H.R. 5126, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on November 15, by Congressmen Garret Graves (R-La.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) and Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.). For details of the DESCEND Act, refer to the recreational fishing and boating coalition’s announcement on H.R. 5126, Bipartisan Effort Drops a Lifeline to Fish Reeled Up from the Deep.
“While Gulf of Mexico red snapper has historically been a highly contentious policy issue, it’s heartening to see such strong support for this effort to reduce mortality rates of discarded reef fish,” said Mike Leonard, vice president of government affairs of the American Sportfishing Association. “Thanks to the bipartisan work of U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy and Doug Jones, the DESCEND Act of 2019 will make meaningful progress in improving fish survival by requiring proper gear be used to release fish caught in the Gulf federal waters. The more fish that survive the healthier their populations will be in the future, therefore providing better fishing opportunities.”
“We thank Senators Jones and Cassidy for addressing the serious issue of release mortality of Gulf reef fish,” said Blakeley Ellis, executive director of Coastal Conservation Association Alabama. “Widespread use of descending devices will serve as another tool for fisheries managers and the angling community to tackle this pervasive problem and begin to eliminate needless waste to the greatest extent possible.”
“We applaud Senators Cassidy and Jones for continuing the legacy of bipartisanship in marine fisheries policy,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “Despite the all-too-common political noise, real work is being done on Capitol Hill, and we appreciate Members of Congress from the Gulf Coast focusing on the economic and cultural importance of America’s reef fish and the future of recreational fishing.”