The Magnuson-Stevens Act Works — Ensuring Healthy Oceans & Productive Fisheries & Supporting Our Coastal Communities

Alaska Harbor

Photo: Alaska Harbor, via the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association

On January 2, 2017, Representative Don Young (R-AK) introduced a bill to amend and reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), 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 MSA reauthorization bill from last Congress (H.R. 1335).

H.R. 200:

  • Undermines the strong science and conservation measures within the current Magnuson-Stevens Act and promotes greater uncertainty in the future management of our fisheries.
  • Threatens the law’s strong foundation and proposes to weaken 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.

The Network does not support H.R. 200 and believes it is the wrong foundation for reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Moving ahead, we look forward to working with the Senate on legislation that builds upon the Magnuson-Stevens Act’s success and strengthens it to meet the new challenges our oceans and fisheries face.

House Hearing

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.”

The Magnuson-Stevens Acts Works — Ensuring Healthy Oceans & Productive Fisheries & Supporting Our Coastal Communities

  • 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. In the past 15 years, the number of overfished stocks in U.S. waters has dropped from 81 to only 38 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.