by Countable | 11.2.18
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) is the primary law governing marine fisheries management in U.S. federal waters, and is generally recognized as one of the most effective fishery laws in the world.
The MSA, first passed in 1976, requires U.S. fishery managers to take three major steps:
According to our partners at USAFacts, a non-partisan, not-for-profit civic initiative aimed at making government data accessible and understandable, fishing and forestry’s contribution to U.S. gross domestic product has been growing, even when accounting for inflation. From the MSA’s passage in 1976 to 2015 – the most recent year for which data are available – fishing and forestry’s contribution to GDP has grown by 30 percent.
U.S. commercial and recreational saltwater fishing generated more than $208 billion in sales and supported 1.6 million jobs in 2015, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Over the years, the MSA has driven a number of specific successes, including the revival of the Atlantic sea scallop fishery – now one of the country’s most valuable fisheries – a 280 percent increase in gag grouper biomass in the Gulf of Mexico from 2007 to 2015, and the recovery of numerous other economically valuable fish species.
The current House reauthorization bill would establish more flexibility in fisheries management, though detractors are concerned that the loosened standards would undermine fish stocks. Check out Countable’s bill summary to see more on how this latest legislation would change the way the MSA works.
Supporters say the House legislation tailors federal fishery management actions in order to give fishery management councils the proper tools and flexibility needed to effectively manage their fisheries, and would support a more robust domestic seafood industry and greater job creation in regions across the country. They include:
More than 1,000 organizations, scientists, fishermen, business leaders, and others signed letters publicly opposing the House bill and urging House members to reject it. They fear the bill would weaken science-based conservation of U.S. fish populations, decrease accountability, and increase the risk of overfishing by removing annual catch limits for many species.
Opponents of the bill include not only conservation and scientific groups, but also restaurant and seafood companies, chefs, dive shops, and recreational fishing groups.
Do you support the House’s revisions to the Magnuson-Stevens Act? Do you prefer a different approach? Tell your reps what you think, then share your thoughts below.
—Sara E. Murphy
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / Arrlxx)
Written by Countable