The recreational fishing community is praising a bill filed on February 15, by Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) that seeks to clear the way for full implementation of a landmark law to raise protections for billfish. The Billfish Conservation Act (BCA) was lauded when it was signed into law in 2012, but a slight ambiguity in the wording of the original legislation prevented it from being implemented as intended by the federal government.
The Billfish Conservation Act 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.