Wicker introduces bill to improve ocean access, data collection for recreational fisherman

Working to support recreational fishing, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced legislation this week that would modernize ocean data collection in order to grant recreational fishermen more access to ocean fisheries.

Regional fishery management councils would be encouraged to review and update policies governing recreational fishing on mixed-used fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico under Wicker’s Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act. Current guidelines require recreational fisherman to follow the same guidelines as commercial fishing operations, which restricts access.

“For too long, Mississippi’s fishermen have been dealing with government policies based on bad data,” Wicker, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, said. “This legislation would be an important first step to modernize the federal fishing policies on the Gulf Coast and preserve access to Mississippi’s bountiful fishing resources for years to come.”

The Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act would also direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to forge partnerships that improve the collection of recreational fishing data, and to incorporate non-federal data.

Additional measures in the bill would direct the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico fishery management councils to review mixed-use fishery allocations every five years and would require the National Academy of Sciences to ensure that Limited Access Privilege Programs are fair and effective. It would also prevent recreational anglers’ annual catch limits from decreasing because of poor data collection.