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Washington, D.C. – Thursday, Congressman Don Young (R-AK) and Congressman Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) introduced H.R. 3697, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act. This bipartisan legislation reauthorizes the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery and Conservation Management Act – landmark fisheries management and conservation legislation first written by Congressman Young in 1975. The Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) was last reauthorized in 2006.
“Alaska’s seafood industry is one of the primary drivers of our state economy, and for over forty years, the Magnuson-Stevens Act has allowed our fishermen, processors, and coastal communities to thrive,” said Congressman Young. “In 1976, I was proud to fight for our Nation’s fishermen alongside my dear friend Rep. Gerry Studds (D-MA) as we first drafted this bipartisan legislation, and in the years since, I have been proud to continue to partner with my Democratic colleagues to keep our fisheries healthy. As the nature of our ecosystem and fishing industry changes, we must ensure our laws are updated to keep pace in an evolving world. I am pleased to work across the aisle with Congressman Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ), industry leaders, and stakeholders in Alaska and throughout the country to update this important law. Future generations must have access to our ocean’s renewable resources. Simply put, sustainability is not a partisan issue — I have always valued having bipartisan support for this critical legislation and have incorporated input from diverse groups and interests into this bill. Our reauthorization takes important steps to protect one of our most important renewable resources, and ensures that generations of fishermen to come can earn a living by putting sustainable seafood on the tables of families across the country. I will be working diligently to ensure that our bipartisan MSA reauthorization crosses the finish line and is ultimately signed into law.”
“Fisheries have long been the lifeblood of the South Jersey economy and culture,” said Congressman Van Drew. “Our marine resources support the largest commercial and recreational fisheries in the Atlantic Coast, contributing more than $2.5 billion very year to our state’s economy. The Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act ensures that we have healthy fisheries, keep anglers in the water and keep fishermen fishing.”
“The fundamental goal of the Magnuson-Stevens Act is to balance stock productivity and economic prosperity,” said Lori Steele, Executive Director of the West Coast Seafood Processors Association. “WCSPA members believe both can be achieved through enacting Congressman Don Young’s Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act. Mr. Young’s bill provides the councils much-needed flexibility to design management systems to better meet all of the standards set forth in the Act.”
“Thanks to Congressman Young and Congressman Van Drew for their continued efforts to improve federal fisheries management,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “There are several provisions in the bill that would benefit recreational anglers and build upon the Modern Fish Act that was signed into law last year, including the ability for annual catch limits (ACLs) to be based on a three-year average to account for natural population variability and amending Section 407 to provide the Gulf States with certification of state recreational harvest data programs.”
“At the Southeastern Fisheries Association (SFA) we truly appreciate Congressman Don Young’s efforts to improve the Magnuson Stevens Act and thank him for his bill that supports U.S. commercial fishermen and ensures a valuable seafood supply to the American public through better science and flexibility in stock rebuilding,” said SFA President Tony Lombardi. “We also appreciate process improvements that insure “fair and balanced” councils, a referendum votes for catch shares to protect all fishermen, and an equitable economic valuation of the commercial and recreational sectors as part of the allocation review process. Congressman Young has always been an advocate for American fishermen and the American consumer that relies on the seafood industry to provide wholesome domestic seafood products. On behalf of SFA members, thank you Congressman Young!”
This legislation tailors federal fishery management actions to give Regional Fishery Management Councils the proper tools and flexibility to manage their fisheries effectively. The bill specifically:
• Affords flexibility by allowing Councils to base fishery stock rebuilding time frames on science rather than the one-size-fits-all approach;
• Increases transparency in science and management by allowing the public to play a greater role in the development of science and Fishery Management Plans;
• Gives stakeholders a voice in the management process and requires the Secretary of Commerce to develop a plan for implementing cooperative research with fishermen and outside groups; and
• Seeks to further improve the science and data on which Councils base their management, including key provisions relating to the collection of data from the recreational saltwater fishing industry.
This bill passed the House of Representatives in the 115th Congress with bipartisan support.