Achieving Healthy Oceans and Productive Fisheries

Coral reef ecosystem

The Issue

Long Line Fishing

Long Line Fishing

Healthy oceans and productive fisheries are critical for the future of our planet, the survival of our species, and the prosperity of our country.

Consider this:

Our global oceans, however, continue to face troubles. Marine scientists routinely assess overfishing as one of the two biggest threats to ocean health.

Although management of U.S. fisheries has improved over the years, we need to continue to build on the strong foundation established by our law and adapt and change to meet new challenges. Upholding and strengthening the science and conservation-based mandates in federal fisheries policy will ensure this important natural resource supports American fishing businesses, communities, and seafood lovers for generations.

The law that manages our domestic fisheries — the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act — has expired and is now up for reauthorization by Congress. The U.S. has been a global leader in the management and conservation of its most vital ocean resource and should continue to set an example for countries around the world.

Our Goals

The Marine Fish Conservation Network’s aim is both to preserve the science and conservation advancements that have already been secured in previous reauthorizations of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and to make additional improvements that not only promote the long-term health of U.S. fisheries and strengthen the wellbeing of fishing communities, but also ensure that our oceans and those who rely on them can successfully meet the emerging challenges of the future.

The Network’s goals for this Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization will be to:

Yellow Snapper

Yellow Snapper

  • Maintain and defend the Magnuson-Stevens Act’s conservation requirements and strong science-based management, including the law’s requirements to rebuild fish stocks, set science-based annual catch limits, and hold fishery managers accountable if overfishing occurs. This also includes supporting mandates for full compliance with all federal laws and regulations such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
  • Promote policies that support and strengthen our nation’s working waterfronts and community-based fishermen, including improving opportunities for fishing communities to access a greater share of fisheries and other community safeguards.
  • Transition to a more comprehensive fisheries management system that protects ocean ecosystems, including stronger protections for fish habitat and better management and conservation of forage (or small “bait” fish) species that feed larger predators. This also includes measures to minimize bycatch (the catching and potentially killing of non-targeted wildlife during fishing) and incorporate better fisheries science.
  • Strengthen assessment, monitoring, and enforcement mechanisms for implementing the law, including improving assessments of fish stocks and accounting of fish catch. This also includes more timely, comprehensive, and cost effective electronic monitoring of fishing vessels.

“We have established sustainability as an essential goal for all fisheries, both in the waters off our country and around the world. Healthy fisheries are important to our nutrition, economies, and to the way of life for many people. To assure that a fisheries resource is sustainable requires a collaborative effort between policymakers, scientists, and the public.”

Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), 2006