Bottom Line

Bottom Line: Historic Anniversary for Fishing in America’s Oceans

President Bush signs the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006, Friday, Jan. 12, 2007 in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.

It’s hard to get politicians to agree on anything these days. But five years ago this month, President George W. Bush, flanked by Republican and Democratic members of Congress, signed the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA).

This moment of bipartisanship was good news for our nation’s marine species and those who rely on them for a living. Lawmakers agreed to both stop and prevent overfishing by incorporating strong, new conservation measures into law, namely the requirement to set science-based, enforceable catch limits on all federally managed ocean fish.

Many stakeholders had insisted this could never be done, and if you look at the history of the MSA, you will understand the skepticism. We can thank the foresight and leadership of the White House and members of Congress, particularly President Bush and the late Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, for this accomplishment. They made sure that the MSA reauthorization included firm deadlines for mechanisms to end overfishing. These requirements drove managers from the National Marine Fisheries Service and the eight regional fishery management councils to work together to get the job done. Now, five years later, we are on the cusp of having science-based limits around the country that guard against overfishing. While this will be a truly historic management milestone, we must remain vigilant to ensure that our stocks continue down the path toward long-term sustainability.

As you read the news about the latest debates in Washington, just remember that there are times when we can come together for the common good. Let’s keep working for the well-being of our nation’s ocean fish populations and fishermen by continuing to support the MSA’s conservation requirements.

Lee Crockett (The Pew Charitable Trusts) Lee Crockett leads The Pew Charitable Trusts efforts to establish policies to end overfishing and promote sustainable fisheries management throughout the United States.


2 Responses to Bottom Line: Historic Anniversary for Fishing in America’s Oceans

  • Henry Hauch says:

    Some important facts are convienantly overlooked. First and perhaps most importantly is that very little “Science” is actually used in seting the high touted Catch Limits. Less than 25% of federally managed fisheries have even some data to use in determining limits, and much of this is limited to “Catch” data. Very few stocks have any reliable “Biomass” data, or estimates of how hany fish there are in the stock. Much of the limited data being used is considered outdated, yet the allowance to use the “Best Avalible Data” gives fishery managers to be lazy and use known outdated and flawed data rather than aquire accurate data. This has caused healthy fisheries to be closed, not due to a lack of fish, but a lack of data. What was good idea to help our fisheries has been a hijacking of the system by special interest, ENGO’s primarily to force hard and unrealistic goals to happen reguardless of what the science says, or does not say. A few noteable groups, Pew and EDF included are even going as far as opposing a legislative plan to REQUIRE the NMFS (NOAA Fisheries) to use reliable data in setting fishery regulations! Talk about being on the wrong side of conservation. They actually prefer the “Status-Quo” with little to no science manageing our fisheries. Our fisheries and fishermen deserve better!

  • Ken Stump says:

    Amendments to the nation’s fisheries law in 1996 and 2006 introduced basic reforms that have put the United States at the forefront of efforts to end overfishing, restore overfished stocks to healthy levels, minimize bycatch and waste, conserve essential fish habitat, improve accountability and strengthen the role of scientific advice in management decisions. The European Union and other fishing nations are recognizing the need to adopt similar reforms in their own ocean fisheries or risk losing them altogether. There is still much room for improvement in the science and management of U.S. fisheries, but we are in a far better position to make those improvements thanks to the passage of the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act of 2006.

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