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Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Implement the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012

The BCA's definition of "billfish" exempts Swordfish, but includes:

   • Black marlin

   • Blue marlin
   • Longbill spearfish
   • Mediterranean spearfish 
   • Roundscale spearfish
   • Sailfish
   • Shortbill spearfish
   • Striped marlin
   • White marlin
Submit comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
NOAA Fisheries is considering issuing regulations to implement the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 (BCA). NOAA Fisheries welcomed the public’s comments on potential issues and the scope of any future regulations. Comments were accepted until July 3, 2013.

Federal RegisterBillfish Conservation Act: Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Background

The Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 was signed into law on October 5, 2012. Section 4(a) prohibits any person from offering billfish or billfish products for sale, selling them, or having custody, control, or possession of them for purposes of offering them for sale. It treats violations of the BCA as an act prohibited by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA).  Section 4(c) exempts billfish caught by U.S. fishing vessels and landed in Hawaii or Pacific Insular Areas (as defined under the MSA) from the general prohibitions on sale and custody with the intent to sell. It also exempts billfish landed by foreign vessels in the Pacific Insular Areas and exported to markets outside the U.S. or retained within Hawaii and the Pacific Insular Areas for local consumption.

In passing the BCA, Congress recognized the conservation challenges facing billfish populations in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Congress found that, despite careful management of domestic billfish fisheries, global billfish populations have declined significantly because of overfishing primarily through retention of bycatch by non-U.S. fishing fleets. In 2011, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature classified blue and white marlin as vulnerable to extinction and striped marlin as near threatened. The over harvest and export of billfish from foreign nations threatens the survival of billfish populations and the sustainability of the U.S. recreational billfish fishery. A report on trade of billfish published by the International Game Fish Association in June 2007 found that the legal sale of billfish caught in the Pacific Ocean may create a market that allows billfish caught in the Atlantic Ocean to enter illegitimately into U.S. markets.

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