On August 2, 2018, the President signed H.R. 4528 into law; a bill sponsored by Congressman Darren Soto (D-Fla.) to amend the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012. On July 26, H.R. 4528 passed the Senate by unanimous consent one month after the House agreed to the bill by a voice vote.
The Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 banned the importation of all billfish caught by foreign fleets into the continental United States and, perhaps most importantly, set an example for other countries to pursue similar conservation efforts once thought impossible. However, questions arose over whether the same prohibitions on foreign-caught billfish imposed by the bill also applied to billfish caught commercially in Hawaii. If commercially caught billfish could be transported from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland, it would circumvent the intent of the conservation measure.
H.R. 4528 simply clarified that billfish landed in Hawaii must be retained there. Implemented as originally intended, the law should make it easier for the U.S. to establish a greater leadership role for the international protection of billfish.
ASA is pleased to see this bill signed into law so that the federal government can finally implement the Billfish Conservation Act as it was originally intended six years ago.
The coalition of groups supporting the Billfish Conservation Act includes American Sportfishing Association, Center for Sportfishing Policy, Coastal Conservation Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, International Game Fish Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, OCEARCH, The Billfish Foundation and Wild Oceans.
For more information, please contact Conservation Director, Mike Leonard.