Amendment to Billfish Conservation Act Advances

A legislative amendment to the Billfish Conservation Act cleared the U.S. House of Representatives on June 25th. Only one step is left before it goes to the President to be signed into law. Once finalized, this law will solidify the original intent of the Billfish Conservation Act so that no marlin, sailfish or spearfish can be sold in the continental United States – regardless of where it is caught.

Marlin, sailfish and spearfish (collectively known as billfish) are internationally revered by recreational anglers and produce significant regional economic benefits from catch and release fisheries, but many billfish stocks are in a depleted state. In 2007, the IGFA commissioned a study investigating the international billfish trade which found that the United States was the world’s biggest importer of billfish. This led to a collaborative effort by the IGFA and Wild Oceans to create the Take Marlin off the Menu campaign that ultimately culminated in the passage of the BCA, which banned the importation of billfish to the continental United States.

Once passed, however, questions arose over whether the same prohibitions on foreign-caught billfish imposed by the BCA would still allow billfish caught commercially in Hawaii and other Pacific territories to be shipped to the U.S. mainland, thus circumventing the intent of the law. The passage of H.B. 4528 and S. 396 closes this loophole by explicitly stating that billfish landed in Hawaii and Pacific Insular Areas must be retained there.

This important amendment to the BCA would advance the United States’ position as a leader in billfish conservation and sets an example for other countries to pursue similar conservation efforts to protect billfish stocks.