Shaping Fisheries Policy

On Capitol Hill

On Capitol Hill: 118th Congress

The Network is working with lawmakers to enhance and strengthen federal fisheries policy and ocean conservation initiatives in the 118th Congress. We are encouraged by the recent introduction of bills intended to support and enhance our nation’s working waterfronts, and we continue to work to ensure our goals of healthy oceans and productive fisheries are reflected in legislation introduced in the days ahead.

Bycatch Reduction Legislation

In May 2024, U.S. Representative Mary Peltola (D-AK) introduced two bills targeting fishing practices that produce wasteful bycatch (the incidental catching — and often killing — of nontargeted wildlife). The bipartisan Bycatch Reduction and Mitigation Act, cosponsored by Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) and Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), would stabilize and increase funding for the NOAA’s Bycatch Reduction and Engineering Program and establish a fund to help fishermen transition to bycatch reducing technology or gear. The Bottom Trawl Clarity Act would more clearly define regulatory terms aimed at reducing fishing with gear that drags across the seafloor and limits this type of fishing to specific zones.

Read Rep. Peltola’s statement on the bill introduction, the Network’s statement on the legislation, and Rep. Peltola’s one-page overviews of the bycatch and bottom-trawl bills.

Bristol Bay Protection Act

Also in May of 2024, Alaska Rep. Mary Peltola introduced legislation in Congress to enshrine in federal law the 2023 EPA decision to veto Pebble Mine. If completed, the mine would threaten the pristine waters of Bristol Bay and the fishing communities that depend on it. For more, read Rep. Peltola’s statement and the text of the bill, called the Bristol Bay Protection Act. The Network also published a blog post about the bill.

Keep America’s Waterfronts Working Act, H.R. 6641

In the House of Representatives, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) reintroduced the “Keep America’s Waterfronts Working Act,” H.R. 6641, in December 2023. The bill will establish a Working Waterfront Grant Program, create a Working Waterfronts Preservation Loan Fund, and establish a Working Waterfront Task Force at the Department of Commerce.

Working Waterfront Preservation Act, S. 3180

U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced the “Working Waterfront Preservation Act,” S. 3180, in November 2023. This bill would help preserve fishermen’s and maritime workers’ access to our nation’s waterfronts through a grant program to help purchase or improve working waterfront property in coastal states.

Administrative Action

The Biden administration has also taken action to advance fisheries policy on the regulatory level.

National Standards Guidelines Revisions

The National Standards Guidelines, written to provide regional fishery management councils with guidance on how to apply the ten principles, or standards, that must be followed in any fishery management plan to ensure sustainable and responsible fishery management, require updating as fisheries management evolves. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries issued a Proposed Rule to Revise the Guidelines for National Standards 4, 8, or 9. The Network submitted public comments in September 2023.

National Seafood Strategy

In August 2023, NOAA Fisheries Released the first-ever National Seafood Strategy. The strategy highlights vital services NOAA provides to support the seafood sector and outlines goals to enhance U.S. seafood resilience in the face of climate change and other stressors. Read more.

Updated Recreational Fishing Policy

In September 2023, NOAA Fisheries released an updated National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy and multi-year national and regional implementation plans. NOAA created the original policy in 2015 to articulate the goals and principles that guide the agency’s approach to recreational fisheries. With the 2023 update, NOAA seeks to address the changing environment, including climate change, and evolving fishery interests based on public input. Read more on NOAA’s website.

Study on Recreational Fishing Effort Survey

NOAA Fisheries announced a large-scale study of its Recreational Fishing Effort Survey, after a six-month pilot study suggested the order of the survey’s questions may cause anglers to overestimate their fishing effort. The follow-up study will use a revised design of the survey, as well as the current survey, to interview a larger sample size of recreational fishermen throughout all of 2024 and compare results.

Bristol Bay/Pebble Mine

On January 31, 2023, the Environment Protection Agency issued a Clean Water Act section 404(c) Final Determination to prohibit and restrict the use of certain waters in the Bristol Bay watershed as disposal sites for mining waste, including the proposed Pebble Mine project. This decision provides the strongest level of habitat protection currently available for the largest sockeye salmon run in the world and effectively keeps mining waste from destroying Bristol Bay’s invaluable, pristine watershed. Learn more.

America the Beautiful Initiative

Commonly referred to as the 30×30 initiative – to conserve at least thirty percent of our lands and waters by 2030 – the “America the Beautiful” initiative seeks to implement a bold vision to promote greater stewardship of our natural environment. NOAA is participating in this conservation effort and has solicited public input on how this initiative could best be implemented in our nation’s oceans and waterways. The Network submitted comments to NOAA on December 20, 2021. In December 2021, the Biden administration issued its first annual progress report on the America the Beautiful initiative.

Additional Administrative Actions:

  • NOAA will use $20 million in Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funding to work with the regional fishery management councils to tackle climate change impacts. Councils will be awarded funds to develop and advance climate-related fisheries management efforts. Learn more.
  • NOAA will also use $20 million in IRA funding for the agency to better understand, adapt to, and mitigate the impacts of climate change on red snapper and other reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico. This funding is expected to help address scientific and management uncertainties for dozens of species in the region. Learn more.
  • NOAA Fisheries is providing $2.3 million in available funding for innovative bycatch reduction solutions. Learn more.

Capitol Hill Policy Archive

Read the Network’s priorities for our fisheries or review our analyses of individual pieces of legislation from 2015-2022


Congressional Committees of Jurisdiction

The following Congressional committees are responsible for the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

Senate

House of Representatives

Contact Your Members of Congress

Tell Congress that abundant U.S. ocean fisheries are important to you.