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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
  • The house Passed July 11th, 2018
    Roll Call Vote 222 Yea / 193 Nay
      house Committees
      House Committee on Natural Resources
      Water, Power and Oceans
    IntroducedJanuary 3rd, 2017

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What is it?

This bill would reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act — the primary law governing how fisheries are managed and general fishing activities in federal waters — for five years through fiscal year 2022 with $397 million in annual funding. The original Magnuson-Stevens Act created eight Regional Fishery Management Councils, and this reauthorization aims to offer more resources and flexibility to Councils for managing their fisheries by reforming the process for designating and rebuilding depleted fisheries and setting annual catch limits.

Under current law, overfished and depleted fisheries are required to rebuild over a 10-year timeframe where no fishing takes place. This bill would replace that requirement with a timeframe that considers the time needed to restore fish populations, plus one mean generation — basically a fish's lifespan. The rebuilding period would be as short as practicable given the biology of the fishery.

Councils could phase-in rebuilding plans for dynamic fisheries over a three-year period to lessen the harm to fishing communities, and could consider environmental conditions and predator/prey relationships when developing rebuilding plans.

When setting Annual Catch Limits (ACLs), Councils would be directed to consider changes in the fishery’s ecosystem and the economic needs of the fishing communities — giving them flexibility without setting ACLs at a level allowing overfishing. Fish that are accidentally caught and are unlikely to be overfished would not need to have an ACL set for them, and fish with a life cycle shorter than 18 months would also not require an ACL as long as the mortality won’t impact the fishery. ACLs could be set for up to a three-year period.

The Secretary of the Interior would be required to develop a plan for conducting stock assessments for all stocks of fish under a fishery management plan that’d be updated every five years. If the secretary determines that a fish stock assessment is unnecessary for a certain stock of fish they’d have to publish an explanation in the Federal Register.

The Secretary of Commerce would be required to establish partnerships with states to develop state recreational fishing data. Grant awards to states would improve the implementation of state data programs, and would be prioritized based on the state’s ability to improve the quality and accuracy of the data collection programs. The Secretary would also enter into an agreement with the National Research Council to assess regional survey methods, and examine the limitations of NOAA’s current data collection programs.

The public would have more chances to give input into the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committees reporting process, and each Council would have to offer live audio or video of Council meetings.

Additionally, references in the Magnuson-Stevens Act to “overfished” fisheries would be changed to “depleted” fisheries to differentiate between fish that are depleted due to fishing from those that are depleted for other reasons.

Impact

People employed in the fishing industry or who live in fishing communities, people who eat fish, state fishing agencies, Regional Fishery Management Councils, NOAA, the Secretary of Commerce.

Cost

$1.40 Billion
The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would cost $1.4 billion over the 2019-2023 period.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Don Young (R-AK) introduced this bill to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act and reform fisheries management:

“Alaska is considered the gold standard of fisheries management and this industry is crucial to our local economy. My bill, H.R. 200, updates the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) to ensure regional fisheries are able to develop management plans that match needs of their areas which they know best. Reauthorizing the MSA will ensure a proper balance between the biological needs of fish stocks and the economic needs of fishermen and coastal communities. MSA has not been reauthorized since 2006, it is long past time for this Congress to act and support our nation’s fisheries.”

Some House Democrats expressed opposition to this bill, writing:

“While we have many healthy fisheries in the United States, we also have many that remain in dangerously depleted states or are only beginning their recovery. We have heard consistently from commercial and recreational fishermen, fishery managers, and the conservation community that the Magnuson-Stevens Act is working, and that the massive overhaul envisioned by this bill is not warranted. Without keeping strong conservation measures in place and continuing to improve management through better science, we will never realize the full potential of our fishery resources for sustainable economic development. For these reasons, we oppose H.R. 200 as reported.”

This legislation passed the House Natural Resources Committee on 23-17 vote and has the support of 11 cosponsors, including nine Republicans and two Democrats. During the last Congress a similar bill passed the House on a 225-152 vote before stalling in the Senate.


Of Note: In 2012, commercial fishermen in the U.S. harvested 9.6 billion pounds of finfish and shellfish, earning $5.1 billion for their catch while sustaining 1.3 million full- and part-time jobs. The most lucrative catches were sea scallops at $559 million, shrimp at $490 million, Pacific salmon at $489 million, and American lobster at $429 million.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: blmoregon via Flickr / Creative Commons)

AKA

Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act

Official Title

To amend the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to provide flexibility for fishery managers and stability for fishermen, and for other purposes.