Last week, Congressman Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) and Congressman Don Young (R-AK) introduced the 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.
“Fisheries have long been the lifeblood of the South Jersey economy and culture, Van Drew said. “Our marine resources support the largest commercial and recreational fisheries in the Atlantic Coast, contributing more than $2.5 billion every 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.”
“Alaska’s seafood industry is one of the primary drivers of our state economy, and for over 40 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…. 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.”
According to Wayne Reichle, president of Lund’s Fisheries in Cape May “the NJ commercial fishing industry is grateful for the leadership and bipartisan efforts of Congressman Van Drew and for his commitment to productive fisheries and a prosperous industry achieved through quality science and sound management.”
“The Garden State Seafood Association has been advocating for MSA reform since 2009. We sincerely hope that Congressman VanDrew will receive the support he deserves from all of the national recreational and commercial fishing groups,” said Greg DiDomenico, executive director of the Garden State Seafood Association.
“Mr. Young and Mr. Van Drew are well versed on the current Magnuson-Stevens bill and how it penalizes fisherman while stocks are healthy. Thanks to both of these great fishery issue leaders for taking on the challenge of pragmatic Magnuson reform,” said Jim Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance.
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 timeframes 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.