The Magnuson-Stevens Act Ensures Healthy Oceans, Productive Fisheries & Thriving Coastal Economies
On July 11, H.R. 200, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act, passed the House of Representatives. The vote on the House floor was disappointing but close; this bill passed by a vote of 222-193. To see a breakdown of how Members voted, go here.
The U.S. House missed an opportunity to make positive and lasting improvements to the Magnuson-Stevens Act that would benefit American commercial fishermen, anglers, seafood consumers, businesses, and coastal communities across the U.S.
The Network continues to oppose H.R. 200: it is the wrong foundation for reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
- Represents a significant step backward by promoting greater uncertainty in the future management of our fisheries.
- Threatens the Magnuson-Stevens Act’s strong foundation by weakening many conservation measures including the mandate to use science-based fishing catch limits.
We don’t want to revert back to policies that led fish populations – and the businesses that depend on them – to collapse in the 1980s and ’90s.
Read the Network’s letter to the U.S. House of Representatives laying out our opposition to H.R. 200. And see our opinion piece in The Hill, “Federal fisheries law re-authorization off course.” See also our other partner and stakeholder letters to Congress related to H.R. 200 and Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization.
The future of our fisheries now lies within the Senate. While there currently is no companion bill to H.R. 200 in the Senate, we are committed to working with Senators on legislation that builds upon the Magnuson-Stevens Act’s success and strengthens it to meet the new challenges our oceans and fisheries face.
H.R. 200 in Congress
On January 2, 2017, Representative Don Young (R-AK) introduced a bill to amend and reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act, H.R. 200, the “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act of 2017.” The bill is virtually the same as Rep. Young’s Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization bill from last Congress (H.R. 1335).
On July 19, 2017, the House Subcommittee on Water Power and Oceans held an oversight hearing titled: “Exploring the Successes and Challenges of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.” And on December 12, 2017 the Full House Resources Committee marked up and passed HR 200 out of committee.
The Magnuson-Stevens Acts Works
Over the last two decades, the United States has made significant progress toward ensuring the health of U.S. fish populations by adding important conservation improvements to the primary law governing U.S. ocean fisheries.
- The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act now mandates that all management decisions, including annual catch limits, be based on the best available science to reduce occurrences of overfishing, the practice of catching fish faster than they can reproduce.
- Conservation measures have also reduced instances of bycatch and helped to protect essential fish habitat.
- Our coastal communities depend on healthy oceans and abundant fish populations. Since 2001, the number of overfished stocks in U.S. waters has dropped from 81 to only 35 today.
- Previously depleted stocks, including Gulf of Mexico gag grouper and Gulf of Maine butterfish, have come back to healthy levels. These recovered fisheries now support commercial and recreational fishing businesses up and down our coasts.