Today, more than 200 scientists from across the United States sent a letter urging Congress to protect the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), which is the primary law governing marine fisheries management in U.S. waters. The letter, led by Dr. Andrew Rosenberg of the Union of Concerned Scientists, criticizes “legislative efforts that would weaken science-based management of U.S. marine fish populations.” Specifically, the letter calls out H.R. 200, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act, which was introduced earlier this year and would weaken or eliminate science-based management requirements and reduce the quality of science used in management decisions.
The letter was released in advance of a congressional hearing tomorrow titled “Reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act: Fisheries Science” in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The hearing is the fourth of the series and will focus on the state of U.S. fisheries and the science that supports sustainable management. The Senate has not yet introduced its own bill to re-authorize MSA but could possibly introduce legislation later this Congress.
Excerpt from the letter:
“In 1996 and 2006, the MSA was amended to strengthen its conservation provisions and ensure scientific advice provided the basis of fishery management decisions. These changes have enabled the United States to become a global leader in well-managed and profitable fisheries, with over 40 domestic fish stocks rebuilt since 2000. Preventing overfishing with science-based sustainable catch limits and timely rebuilding of fish populations that are depleted, as required under the MSA, are fundamental to good management of fishery resources and should be maintained to continue improving the health of our nation’s fisheries.
Yet, several pieces of legislation have been introduced this Congress that would unwind science-based conservation of U.S. marine fish populations. Chief among them is H.R. 200, which undermines the cornerstones of MSA’s success in a number of ways, including weakening or eliminating science-based management requirements and reducing the quality of science used in management decisions.”
Oceana campaign director Lora Snyder released the following statement in response to the letter:
“The fact that scientists are sounding the alarm on current efforts in Congress to weaken the MSA and jeopardize the health of our oceans should make everyone sit up and pay attention.
Under the MSA, the U.S. has become a global leader in fisheries management. The MSA has helped halt overfishing, protect essential fish habitats and rebuild depleted stocks. It is abundantly obvious that this law is working. It is unclear to conservationists and fishermen alike why an effort to gut this successful and bipartisan legislation is underway. Protecting our oceans and supporting U.S. fishermen are not mutually exclusive. It is crucial that Congress defend the MSA and reject any efforts to reverse the progress we’ve made in the last 40 years.”
To learn more about Oceana’s efforts to promote responsible fishing, please visit usa.oceana.org/ResponsibleFishing.