August 2, 2018. President Donald Trump today signed into law HR 4528, bipartisan legislation to amend the Billfish Conservation Act to clarify that Pacific billfish exempted from the 2012 law’s federal no-sale provision must be sold locally in Hawaii and Pacific island territories (Guam, Samoa, etc.). In effect, it achieves the original BCA’s intent to outlaw the sale of marlin, spearfish and sailfish anywhere within the mainland United States.
“Wild Oceans and IGFA began the Take Marlin Off the Menu campaign 10 years ago because we believe the future of these magnificent fish is not for sale,” said Tim Choate, Chairman of Wild Oceans. “This simple ‘technical amendment’ ensures that billfish receive the full protection from commercial exploitation that the Billfish Conservation Act intended.”
The BCA of 2012 halted all importation and sales of billfish in the U.S., providing a limited exemption for traditional fisheries and markets in Hawaii and nearby island territories. The administration’s failure to issue a rulemaking to stop Hawaiian-caught billfish from entering mainland markets forced Wild Oceans and IGFA, along with the Center for Sportfishing Policy, to go back to Congress to close this loophole.
The BCA stopped an estimated 30,000 Pacific marlin from being imported into the U.S. every year and sold in markets on the mainland, where commercial fishing for billfish is prohibited. Now billfish caught and landed in Hawaii, where there are no limits on how many striped marlin, blue marlin and spearfish can be caught, cannot be sold in any of the other 49 states.