A victory for fishing interests and science-based management

On Monday night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization bill, the law that governs the management of federal offshore fisheries, on a 225-152 vote.

Our sincere thanks go to the Representatives who voted for legislation that provides regional fishery management councils with a more practical, science-based timeframe for ending overfishing and establishing fishery rebuilding plans than the existing arbitrary, one-size fits all deadlines.

Click here to see how your Representative voted.

The legislation will increase the timeframe for regional fishery management councils to end overfishing from 2 to 3 years and give the councils the flexibility to institute fishery rebuilding plans based on a stock’s biology, not on the existing arbitrary 10 year deadline.

The language in the bill is in response to a congressionally requested report from the National Research Council released last September that said more flexibility in the length of fishery rebuilding plans is needed.

The legislation substitutes “depleted” for “overfished” in an acknowledgement that the decline of stocks can be attributed to environmental factors beyond fishing effort.

The legislation also allows consideration of ecosystem changes and the economic needs of fishing communities in establishing annual catch limits, and requires referendum approval of any proposed “catch share” programs in the South Atlantic region by a majority of the affected fishery permit holders.

The importance of the catch share referendum requirement rises as the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council continues to include catch share programs, which privatize fisheries, for the commercial and for-hire sectors in their Vision Blueprint for the snapper-grouper fishery, despite overwhelming stakeholder opposition.

Catch share programs tend to benefit large corporate fleets that can buy up shares and hurt small fishermen who cannot. Studies have shown that catch share programs hurt fishing communities by destroying jobs and don’t provide any biological benefit to fisheries.

The House vote is a great victory for commercial and recreational fishing interests and science-based fishery management, but our challenge now is to get a companion bill through the Senate and then past the Obama administration’s threatened veto.

Thank you for your support!

Tom Swatzel
Executive Director
Sustainablefishing.org

P.S. The Council for Sustainable Fishing is a non-profit fishing advocacy group that relies on membership dues and donations to operate. We need your financial support to continue an effective advocacy campaign for fishing interests! Please join or donate $10, $15, $25, $35, $50 or more today by clicking here. Thank you!

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