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Public Statements

Billfish Conservation Act of 2012

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 2706, the Billfish Conservation Act, authored by our colleague from Florida (Mr. Miller).

Under current law, it is illegal to import or sell Atlantic billfish. Despite this, the U.S. is one of the major importers of billfish in the world. While Pacific billfish populations in general are in better shape than Atlantic billfish, threats to both oceans' billfish from foreign fishing fleets remain.

As long as the U.S. allows a market for these fish, their population levels are likely to worsen. To add more protection for both the Atlantic and Pacific billfish, the legislation would make it illegal to sell specific billfish species or possess those billfish for sale, whether they are Atlantic or Pacific.

Now, I note, Mr. Speaker, that concern had been raised at the June hearing that U.S. fishermen in Hawaii and the Pacific insular areas might be disadvantaged by these new rules and that the local consumption of billfish products might be made illegal. The bill was amended during committee consideration to address this concern; and the legislation, as amended, now protects these U.S. fishermen and the existing limited, traditional local consumption of billfish products while still providing additional and increased protection for billfish populations in the United States.

This is good legislation. I support it. And I reserve the balance of my time.

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