Today, the House Natural Resources Committee advanced H.R. 200, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act, which would significantly undermine sustainable fisheries management in the United States. Introduced earlier this year by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), H.R. 200 would weaken science-based conservation of U.S. fish populations and increase the risk of overfishing by removing annual catch limits for many species. The bill is part of an ongoing effort to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), which is the primary law governing fisheries management in U.S. waters.
Just last week, committee member Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) sent a letter to committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), asking him not to rush a vote on H.R. 200, in the interest of working together to find a middle ground and developing a new bill with broad bipartisan support.
Oceana campaign director Lora Snyder released the following statement regarding today’s vote:
“Today’s vote is a slap in the face to anyone who cares about ensuring the health of our nation’s fisheries, instead jeopardizing decades of progress in ocean conservation. By advancing this bill, House Republicans are rejecting the bipartisan process that was promised, in the pursuit of ramming through legislation that prioritizes short-term profits over long-term economic and ecological sustainability.
It is obvious that the current law, when properly implemented, works. Under the MSA, the U.S. has become a global leader in fisheries management, reducing overfishing, protecting essential habitats and rebuilding depleted stocks. We’ve clearly seen that thriving fisheries and vibrant ocean ecosystems go hand-in-hand. But this new bill would roll back decades of progress, leading us back down the path to oceans empty of fish and fishermen losing their livelihoods.
Ocean conservation should be a bipartisan issue. Speaker Paul Ryan: Don’t allow this bill to move forward in the House. House Republicans need to go back to the drawing board and work with Democrats to develop bipartisan legislation that reflects the input of all stakeholders. We cannot play politics with the future of our nation’s fisheries.”
In October, more than 200 scientists from across the United States sent a letter to Congress, urging it “to oppose H.R. 200 and other legislation that would weaken science-based management and the health of U.S. fish populations, and exempt fisheries managers from complying with other laws that protect our ocean resources.”
To learn more about Oceana’s efforts to promote responsible fishing, please visit usa.oceana.org/ResponsibleFishing.