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