In the News

Recap and Roundup of News on Today’s Fishermen Rally

Summer flounder may be moving north, sparking a debate on quota allocations. (Photo credit: NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center).

Summer flounder may be moving north, sparking a debate on quota allocations. (Photo credit: NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center).

Earlier today, fishing groups held a rally in Washington, D.C. to voice to lawmakers their support for bills that would eliminate significant conservation measures from the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 36-year old law that governs the management of our nation’s fisheries and has helped bring severely depleted fish populations back from the brink of collapse. The fishermen hope to convince lawmakers to introduce more “flexibility” into the MSA, meaning they support loosening the law’s requirements that overfished stocks have ten-year rebuilding timelines in place.

Lawmakers sympathetic to the fishermen’s objectives, including Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, were invited to speak at the rally and gave brief statements. Those whose policy positions do not strictly align with the bills the fishermen were in D.C. to promote were told by the rally’s organizers that they would not be welcomed at the event or invited to speak. The Gloucester Times reports that the Recreational Fishermen’s Alliance (RFA), which organized the rally, made this clear to Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, who recently co-sponsored legislation that attempts to create dedicated funding for fisheries research rather than weaken MSA provisions.

Coverage of the rally can be found across the internet, so the below list is by no means comprehensive, but TalkingFish.org compiled a list of interesting opinion-based coverage of the rally and the forces behind it:

  • NRDC attorney David Newman blogged about the successes of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the importance of keeping it intact to continue protecting fish populations and the livelihoods of current and future fishermen.
  • Matt Tinning, Executive Director of the Marine Fish Conservation Network, wrote an opinion piece explaining the founding and current membership of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), the group that organized today’s rally. According to Tinning, while the RFA presents itself as “the premier political voice for America’s recreational anglers,” it is more of a “fringe” group whose platform to gut the MSA should not be confused with the real grievances and nuanced policy views of the millions of conservation-minded fishermen who are not part of the group.
  • In a press release issued today in response to the rally, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), the largest commercial fishermen’s organization on the west coast, stated that “the root of the problem confronting the nation’s fishing industry is not the nation’s primary fishery statute – the [MSA], which requires ‘science-based’ fishery management.” The press release goes on to explain the issues the PCFFA does view as problems and recommend fixes.

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