Anchors Aweigh on Fisheries Reform in U.S. House
House Natural Resources Subcommittee Holds Legislative Hearing on Four Fishery Bills
The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans held a legislative hearing on four marine fishery bills that would amend the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). The Subcommittee heard from seven witnesses from the recreational, commercial and charter-for-hire fishing sectors as well as local, state and federal officials including Chris Oliver, NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries.
Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Chris Macaluso, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Center for Marine Fisheries, represented recreational fishermen.
“Federal fisheries managers do a lot of guessing in regulating recreational fishing because federal data is lacking and outdated -- and they reject or ignore real-time data provided by the states,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “America’s 11 million saltwater recreational anglers have experienced systematic reductions of opportunity to enjoy America’s marine resources due to the one-size-fits-all approach of federal management. We are hopeful Congress will recognize that recreational fishing and commercial fishing are different endeavors which need to be managed differently.”
The agenda included H.R. 200, sponsored by Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska); H.R. 2023 and H.R. 3588, sponsored by Congressman Garret Graves (R-La.), and a discussion draft, sponsored by Congressman Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) as an alternative to H.R. 200. The legislation discussed at the hearing and witness testimony can be found here.
On April 6, 2017, the bipartisan Modern Fish Act (H.R. 2023) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Graves, Gene Green (D-Texas), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.) to address the challenges facing recreational fishermen in the federal fisheries management system. On July 10, a companion bill (S. 1520) was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), John Kennedy (R-La.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
The bipartisan Modern Fish Act would finally recognize the differences between commercial and recreational fishing by allowing alternative management tools for recreational fishing that are proven in other jurisdictions; reexamining fisheries allocations; smartly rebuilding fish stocks, and improving recreational data collection. The bill aims to benefit fishing access and conservation by incorporating modern management approaches, science and technology to guide decision-making.
"Today, I am more optimistic about the future of federal recreational fishing management than I have been at any other time in the last 10 years,” noted Chris Macaluso, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Center for Marine Fisheries, in his written testimony. “The bills under consideration today contain provisions that would help improve federal fisheries management for recreational fishing, potentially marking the first time in the history of the Magnuson-Stevens Act that the law specifically recognizes the vital role recreational fishing plays in our economy and identifies that recreational fishing is a fundamentally different activity than commercial fishing that requires a different management approach."