Environmental Policy News

New Bill Will Help Anglers Access Accurate Marine Water Charts

US Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) recently introduced the Modernizing Access to Our Public Oceans (MAPOceans) Act, bipartisan legislation that would digitize and map public information about federal fishing restrictions in the ocean. The bill is modeled on a similar law that gives hunters reliable information about hunting on public lands.

“For many Texans and Americans who enjoy recreational fishing and boating, it can be difficult to find simple and reliable information about access to waterways and restricted areas,” said Ranking Member Cruz. “I am pleased Sen. King has joined me in this bipartisan effort to ensure fishery information is easily and centrally accessible, so anglers and boaters can focus on enjoying America’s beautiful waterways instead of wading through confusing data sources.”

“Maine’s Atlantic coastline is an incredible natural treasure, and one that attracts outdoor enthusiasts from around the country and world,” said Senator Angus King, Vice Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. “The bipartisan MAPOceans Act would combine all the available information about ocean recreation and navigation into a one-stop shop containing information about ocean recreation and navigation that you can hold in the palm of your hand. From deep-sea anglers to sailors, this legislation ensures that every person seeking adventure in Maine has the opportunity to do so safely and responsibly.”

The full text of the MAPOceans Act is available here.


Last Congress, the Modernizing Access to Our Public Lands Act (or MAPLand Act), led by Sens. Angus King and Jim Risch and cosponsored by Ranking Member Cruz, was signed into law, requiring the federal government to standardize and digitize information showing access boundaries for hunting and fishing. This allowed the public to better understand where and when they could access public lands for hunting and fishing. However, the MAPLand Act did not include data on America’s federal ocean fisheries.

This legislation does not authorize or appropriate any federal spending. The MAPOceans Act has received the endorsement of a number of key stakeholder organizations:

“When enjoying time on the water, ensuring compliance with complex Federal navigation and fisheries regulations is essential to protecting critical habitat and ensuring the conservation of various sport-fish populations” said Chad Tokowicz, Government Relations Manager for the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas. “The MAPOceans Act will make it easier for recreational boaters and anglers to seamlessly navigate our Federal waterways and comply with fisheries regulations, ultimately creating a more positive boating experience for all Americans. We thank Senator Cruz and Senator King for increasing access for recreational boaters and anglers while simultaneously ensuring compliance with important Federal regulations.”

“Expanding access to the information anglers and boaters need to safely get out on the water will help fuel America’s $1.1 trillion outdoor recreation economy,” said Jessica Wahl Turner, President of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR). “The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable appreciates Senators Cruz and King for introducing the MAPOceans Act and for finding innovate ways to allow more Americans to enjoy the outdoors.”

“America’s saltwater anglers must navigate a gauntlet of complex regulations when they boat and fish offshore, and the MAPOceans Act will help ensure that people no longer miss a day on the water because federal agency rules are too hard to find and understand,” said Becky Humphries, President and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “TRCP thanks Senator Cruz and Senator King for their leadership to introduce and advance this important public access legislation.”

“Navigating the complex web of fishing regulations, anchoring limitations and restricted areas can be challenging for America’s anglers and boaters,” said Mike Leonard, Vice President of Government Affairs at the American Sportfishing Association. “The MAPOceans Act would help Americans access marine waters with more confidence, ensuring that recreational information is easily accessible through marine electronics, mapping apps, and online platforms. On behalf of the recreational fishing industry, we thank Senator Cruz and Senator King for their leadership of this important legislation.”

“Access for anglers isn’t just about where you can launch your boat,” said Chris Horton, Senior Director of Fisheries Policy for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “With our complicated system of federal fisheries management, and with our network of marine protected areas, it can be especially challenging to know which waters are open for fishing and what type of gear you can use. We very much appreciate Senator Ted Cruz and Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Vice-Chair Senator Angus King for introducing MAPOceans that will remove barriers and uncertainty for America’s saltwater anglers.”

“Accurate charts are one of the basic safety tools for all boaters,” said David Kennedy, Government Relations Manager for BoatUS “The over half a million BoatUS members applaud the MAPOceans Act as a major step forward in getting the information collected by federal agencies into boater chart plotters, mobile devices and even good old paper charts.”

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