New legislation would drastically prioritize commercial fishing over recreational fishing in Puerto Rico.
According to a report from Sport Fishing Magazine, recreational fishing annually contributes roughly $100 million to the country. However that could change greatly if Senate Bill 1014, which was already approved by the Puerto Rico Senate, is also approved by the Puerto Rico House of Representatives.
There are about 200,000 recreational fishermen in Puerto Rico and only 900 commercial fishermen, yet the bill seems to drastically favor commercial fishermen.
The bill would initiate a Fisheries Advisory Board, which would be made up of eight commercial fishermen and three recreational fishermen.
The eight commercial board members would be selected by fellow commercial fishermen, whereas government authorities would appoint recreational board members (two marine and one freshwater).
With a super majority of eight members, commercial fishermen would be able to make decisions regardless of representation from the recreational fishing community.
The bill would also allow commercial fishermen to keep the majority of a haul if caught violating regulations, only losing the fish that weren't caught in compliance. Meanwhile, recreational anglers would only be able to harvest a maximum of 30 pounds of fish per month, effectively eliminating fishing tournaments and the possibility of keeping a single game fish over 30 pounds.
It would protect only commercial fishermen from losing their boats, regardless of the severity of an infraction, and would also grant them a free pass for first-time violations.
And finally, it would eliminate seasonal fisheries closures and make fisheries-management decisions based on a species being deemed "vulnerable," which could take years.
It's hard to fathom a lot of these proposed regulations, as they do seemingly intend to bury the recreational fishing sector.
According to Dr. Craig Lilyestrom Ph.D., there's no reason to repeal Fisheries Law 278 (the current law that Senate Bill 1014 would replace), claiming it treats commercial and recreational fishermen equally.
Even if you live in the United States, you can petition to stop this bill, as it would eliminate a lot of fishing opportunities for American anglers.