Fishmonger Scott Lister has become the latest high-profile critic of the monument fisheries legislation.
The bill, which was introduced by Senator Mike Lee, would require all of the nation’s major salmon farms to get permits to haul and sell wild fish, and limit the size of those farms to no more than a half-acre.
Lister, the chairman of the Montana Fish and Game Commission, was among a group of people who signed a letter to the Lee campaign on Saturday opposing the bill.
“This bill would force Montana’s largest salmon farms and the largest fish processing companies to close their doors and shut down,” Lister said in a statement.
“Instead, these companies would be allowed to continue operating as normal, with no regulation and no oversight.
We call on the legislature to pass this legislation immediately.”
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Mike Crapo, has said the legislation would not harm the health of Montana’s salmon fishery.
“We are not seeking to take away our fish, our trout, or our carp,” he said in September.
“But this bill is a step toward limiting the number of people that are able to fish, the amount of fish they can take, and the size.”
He also said the bill was a “great step in the right direction” to protect the health and livelihoods of Montanans.
“I hope that it will not take away from the fishing, the hunting, the recreational fishing,” Crapu said.
“The fishing industry is the backbone of our economy.
We have to have a fishing industry.”
Montana Fish & Game is one of the few states in the country to have legislation to limit the number and size of commercial salmon farms, but it’s not the only one that does.
The Bureau of Land Management has a program to limit commercial fisheries, but the Fish and Wildlife Service only allows a certain number of commercial vessels to fish for a certain amount of time.
The Fish and Bird Service regulates commercial fisheries on a national level, but does not regulate the industry on a Montana-wide level.
The Montana Fish Commission is also trying to limit its number of fish processing farms.
That agency oversees the nation of 8,000-plus farms and processing facilities, but is not allowed to regulate fish farms on a state-wide basis.
The fish commission is also facing the prospect of losing some funding from the Trump administration’s budget.
The agency has been trying to save money by shifting resources away from managing fish and bird populations to other priorities.