A victory for fishermen and science

On Wednesday, 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 222-193 vote.

Our thanks to the Representatives who voted for the bill.

Called the “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act,” the legislation 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 read the bill and here to see how your Representative voted.

The legislation will give regional fishery councils the flexibility to institute fishery rebuilding plans based on a stock’s biology, not on the existing arbitrary 10-year deadline. This is in response to a 2015 congressional report from the National Research Council 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 and allows consideration of ecosystem changes and the economic needs of fishing communities in establishing annual catch limits.

It requires referendum approval of any proposed “catch share” programs in the South Atlantic region by a majority of the affected fishery permit holders and bans the use of Exempted Fishing Permits to establish catch share programs like the 2017 back-door effort by South Atlantic fishery council insiders to establish a “pilot” snapper-grouper catch share program.

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.

Thank you for your support!

Tom Swatzel
Executive Director
Council for Sustainable Fishing

P.S. The Council for Sustainable Fishing is a non-profit fishing advocacy group that relies on membership dues to operate. We need your financial support to continue an effective advocacy campaign for fishing interests! Please join today by clicking here. Thank you!

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