Rep. Soto’s Shark and Billfish Protection Bill Passes House, One Step Closer Toward Becoming Law
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 4528, a bill introduced by Congressman Darren Soto to amend the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 to limit the sale of billfish caught by U.S. fishing vessels and to amend the Shark Conservation Act of 2010 giving the Secretary of Commerce authority to manage Atlantic highly migratory species. H.R .4528 is also supported by a coalition of conservation and sportsman/anglers groups.
“We are proud this legislation unanimously passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives, a major step toward becoming law,” stated Rep. Soto. “Billfish, such as Marlins and Sailfish, are a fundamental component of recreational fishing in parts of Florida. Team Soto members, as most Floridians, are big Shark Week fans and passionate about our wildlife. We have to do our part to protect and save these regal animals. We are encouraged with the bipartisan support out of the full House and the House Natural Resources Committee’s Chairman Bishop and Ranking Member Grijalva.”
Rep. Soto’s Legislative Team with photos of Billfish
H.R. 4528 is the House companion to S. 396, and identical bill introduced by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) which passed the U.S. Senate under unanimous consent on October 2, 2017.
Under current law, billfish caught by U.S. vessels that land in Hawaii or Pacific Insular Areas (American Samoa, Baker Island, Guam, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Island, the Northern Mariana Islands, Palmyra Atoll, and Wake Island) may be sold and exported to non-U.S. markets or transported to other U.S. markets. This bill requires billfish caught by U.S. vessels that land in Hawaii or Pacific Insular Areas to be retained for sale in those areas. This strikes a balance between preserving traditional cultural fishing in these areas and the overall intent to prevent large scale commercial fishing of these billfish.
Moreover, the bill clarifies that there is no language in the Shark Conservation Act (SCA) of 2010 that alters existing authority of the Secretary of Commerce to manage Atlantic highly migratory species under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. It also cleans up language in the SCA by removing an expired offset. The main goal of this fix is to ensure protection against shark finning.
The coalition of groups supporting the Billfish Conservation Act (H.R. 4528) includes Florida Conservation Voters, 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.
With the passage of this legislation, Congressman Soto has now passed 3 bills out of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 115th Congress. For more information on Rep. Soto’s legislative accomplishments, visit: https://soto.house.gov/legislation.