Weâ€™ve made a lot of progress in curbing overfishing in the past few decades â€“ but that progress could be unraveled if several dangerous new bills make it through Congress.
On December 1, the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to examine eight pending fisheries bills, many of which seek to undermine the nationâ€™s foremost fisheries management law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), and roll back decades of progress in rebuilding depleted fish populations.
Among the bills under consideration are the â€śFishery Science Improvement Act of 2011â€ť (H.R. 2304), the â€śFlexibility and Access in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act of 2011â€ť (H.R. 3061), and the â€śAmerican Angler Preservation Actâ€ť (H.R. 1646).
Since 1976, the MSA has helped reverse the dangerous decline in U.S. fisheries that resulted from decades of overfishing. Under its reauthorization in 2006, fisheries managers are now finally required to implement specific measures by the end of 2011 to ensure that overfished stocks can adequately rebuild.
These bills, erroneously disguised as â€śimprovements,â€ť would significantly weaken the law that has successfully governed federal fisheries management for thirty-five years by relaxing many key requirements of the law. Collectively, these bills threaten to undo much of the progress we have made in rebuilding depleted populations.