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Protecting Fish and Seafood – Do You Support Revisions to the Magnuson-Stevens Act?

by Countable | 11.2.18

  • Congress is currently working to alter how the U.S. protects fisheries.
  • One bill recently passed the House, and the Senate is currently considering a counterpart bill.
  • Detractors argue that the changes the House passed would endanger fish stocks and lead to a spike in seafood prices, while supporters say the revisions would provide an economic benefit to fishermen and coastal communities.

Why it matters

Almost 90 percent of the world’s marine fish stocks are now fully exploited, overexploited, or depleted. Fish accounts for 17 percent of all animal protein consumed in the world.

Background

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:

  • Manage fisheries to produce the largest possible sustainable catch;
  • Set and enforce science-based quotas that prevent overfishing – i.e. catching fish at a faster rate than that at which they reproduce;
  • Rebuild overfished populations as quickly as possible.

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.

Since 2001, the number of overfished stocks in U.S. waters has dropped from 81 to only 35 today.

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

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:

Detractors

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.

What do you think?

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

Countable

Written by Countable

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(114)
  • burrkitty
    Voted Oppose
    11/02/2018
    ···

    I oppose this revision. We do not want to return to the “bad old days”. Overfishing damages a lot more that just the prices. It damages the food-web and can have catastrophic effects on the ecosystem. Our over dependence on a few fish species has had terrible consequences. Let’s not go back to that. Science and sustainability should be the guidance forces. I don’t want cheap fish now at the cost of destroying the species and then never eating it again. Think long term.

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  • SneakyPete
    Voted Support
    11/03/2018
    ···

    Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation & Management Act 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. I’m in support of the Supporters who say that the House legislation which tailors federal fishery management actions in order to give fishery management councils the proper tools and flexibility, it needs 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: - National Restaurant Association (NRA) - National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) - National Fisheries Institute (NFI) - Recreational Fishing Alliance - The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) - Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation 11*2*18 ..... SneakyPete ....

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  • Dave
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Congress is currently working to alter how the U.S. protects fisheries. If we get rid of all those fish, it wouldn’t be a problem, we could get rid of the industry that self regulates as well. Look at the money you could save, get rid of the government agencies regulation to keep the fisher alive. The Issue is gone we could apply this to everything, trees, water, air, Etc, self regulation, Don’t need regulations or rules let them self regulate may be they could get with China and work something out? Oh we did that in the banking industry and they bought our debt, never mind!

    Like (3)
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  • Kodiwodi
    Voted Oppose
    11/02/2018
    ···

    I opposed this bill the first time and I oppose it again. There must be tight control to prevent overfishing and to prevent depletion of species. With over 1000 agencies opposed to these changes I would say there has been little consensus building and just a whole lot of jamming this down the throats of voters.

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  • Loretta
    11/02/2018
    ···

    No revisions needed at this time. The point is to protect or industry by protecting our. Marine life!

    Like (2)
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  • Sophia
    Voted Support
    11/05/2018
    ···

    Conservation of existing stock is a wise enterprise with long-term impact. No problem if it causes a temporary rise in seafood prices, since the ultimate result is a gain in supply, at which time prices will fall again. Once a species is depleted past restoration, the supply is gone forever: something that present-day consumers seem not to realize.

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  • Robert
    Voted Oppose
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Leave the fish and seas alone

    Like (18)
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  • John
    Voted Oppose
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Do not weaken this Act.

    Like (15)
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  • Jean
    Voted Oppose
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Vote for the health of the oceans and human beings.......don't overfish....

    Like (14)
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  • Chickie
    Voted Oppose
    11/03/2018
    ···

    I am not a fisherman. I do not raise fish. Nor do I study the impact of revising the Magnusome-Stevens Act. Therefore, I would defer to the scientists, the conservationists, the recreational fishing group, divers, chefs, etc. I would trust their opinions as they are all involved with fish/fishing. Need further proof? The GDP has increased 30% since the MSA passed in 1976. Congress, you should leave the Magnusome-Stevens Act alone!

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  • Chickie
    Voted Oppose
    11/03/2018
    ···

    I am not a fisherman. I do not raise fish. Nor do I study the impact of revising the Magnusome-Stevens Act. Therefore, I would defer to the scientists, the conservationists, the recreational fishing group, divers, chefs, etc. I would trust their opinions as they are all involved with fish/fishing. The GDP haS increased 30% since the 1970’s. Congress, you should leave the Magnusome-Stevens Act alone!

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  • Leslie
    Voted Oppose
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Nuts! I guess the Republicans really don't care about anything concerning the environment and the wildlife! Have they ever heard of overfishing? Guess not! Don't complain when they run out of your favorite fish to eat from overfishing!

    Like (7)
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  • Laura
    Voted Oppose
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Please oppose these proposed changes. Species need protection, not further endangerment.

    Like (7)
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  • NanceinNJ
    Voted Oppose
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Any measures to weaken the protection of our marine fisheries via changes to the Magnuson-Stevens act or other regulations is unacceptable. Our fisheries are stressed and at the brink. I notice that no agency or scientific organization vested in the protection of our fisheries publicly support this bill. Please vote no.

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  • Steve
    Voted Oppose
    11/02/2018
    ···

    If you deplete the fish stock the entire planet will suffer! It will upset the food chain and the fish commission isn't living up to the last agreement to replenish the fish stocks!

    Like (6)
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  • Robert j.
    Voted Oppose
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Conservation should guide this law.

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  • 1958FRO
    Voted Oppose
    11/02/2018
    ···

    I wish Republicans would quit screwing with the environment and the American people!!!

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  • Bobbi
    Voted Oppose
    11/02/2018
    ···

    There are long-term effects to not protecting seafood and fish and I absolutely do not trust the current Administration to see much farther than the end of their nose, if they can manage that.

    Like (5)
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  • Elizabeth
    Voted Oppose
    11/02/2018
    ···

    I live on the Alabama Gulf Coast where fishing is a huge industry. But I’m seeing industry wreak havoc across Mobile Bay. We need to preserve our ecosystem - ultimately that helps tourism AND the fishing industry. Stop selling Alabama out!!

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  • Courtney
    Voted Oppose
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Overfishing is a real danger, we need to be conscious of what we’re doing to the ecosystem around us.

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  • Keith
    Voted Oppose
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Living and fishing in my southern Louisiana, I have see the results of conservation protection for wildlife. Our beloved pelicans have returned, bald eagles soar above our swamps and dolphins and manatees have returned to our inland waters.

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  • George
    Voted Oppose
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Don’t allow this raping of our sustainable fisheries take place. They already put much of our salmon population in peril with that outrageous mining operation in Alaska. George Bonnier

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  • KansasTamale
    Voted Oppose
    11/02/2018
    ···

    What this is doing is making easier in the fishing industry and worse for the population because going BACKWARD IN PROTECTIONS WILL ONLY MAKE PEOPLE HAVE MORE HEALTH PROBLEMS.

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