WASHINGTON, DC – The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), along with Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Co-Chair Rep. Jeff Miller and CSC Member Rep. Rob Wittman, briefed members of Congress Tuesday morning on legislation that will be introduced to maintain conservation standards set forth in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
The 2006 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) was intended to drive the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) towards more effective conservation and management of America’s federal fishery resources through sound science. The 2006 MSA re-authorization required accountability for every harvesting sector in every fishery and an end to overfishing by 2011.
“2011 sounded a long way off back in 2006, but today – six months from that deadline – much of the scientific data needed to implement these accountability measures is still far from being attained,” said CSF President Jeff Crane. “The effect of these decisions would be to reduce the catch and in some cases shut down healthy fisheries for which there is no scientific evidence that they are being overfished or are likely to be overfished.”
The MSA requirements to end overfishing by 2011 and impose accountability were broadly supported but were predicated on two critical assumptions about how this new standard for proper management would be achieved: (1) NOAA Fisheries would make decisions based on up-to-date and accurate stock assessments, and (2) NOAA Fisheries would improve catch data to better anticipate potential problems in a given fishery.
The Fishery Science Improvement Act, to be introduced next week by Rep. Wittman, provides NOAA Fisheries with the time and direction to properly implement the 2006 Reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Act. Rep. Wittman is working to gain original co-sponsors for the legislation to be introduced next week. CSF and its conservation partners are working with Rep. Wittman to encourage CSC members to sign-on.
“Without Congressional action, arbitrary decisions affecting millions of anglers and thousands of businesses will continue to be made, and I can’t let that happen to my constituents on the coast of Virginia nor should anyone in this Congress who cares about our nation’s marine resources or the millions of American’s who use those resources and depend on them for jobs and recreation,” said Wittman.
“The requirements outlined in the 2006 reauthorization are on the horizon and yet the science has not been established to accurately assess fish populations,” said Miller. “Science is the only way we can solve this, and Rep. Wittman’s bill will provide the agency with the time and direction to properly address adequate scientific data. I am glad to join on as an original co-sponsor, and I will encourage fellow members of the Caucus to sign as co-sponsors.”
Fishing, both recreational and commercial, produces over $160 billion for the American economy. In 2006, saltwater recreational angler expenditures alone filtering through the U.S. economy contributed $82.3 billion in total sales, $39.1 billion in value-added contributions to gross domestic product, $24.0 billion in income, and supported nearly 534,000 jobs.
“Fixing the management system for America’s fisheries is a process that won’t occur overnight, said CSF Board Member and President of the Center for Coastal Conservation, Jeff Angers. “However, America’s anglers are hopeful that members from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus jump on Rep. Wittman’s bill and move it quickly through the process to enable NOAA Fisheries to apply the law thoughtfully. This legislation makes economic sense for the country, conservation sense for the resource and common sense for anglers.”
“The nation’s sportsmen and women are asking Congress to help us now to correct the course of NOAA Fisheries on how the agency should be approaching management of federal fisheries,” said Crane. “NOAA is far from being able to meet the scientific requirements of the statute but is proceeding with major fishery management decisions impacting the nation’s 13 million saltwater anglers and the tens of thousands of businesses and employees who depend on marine recreational fishing. This legislation corrects their course.”
This morning’s briefing is part of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Breakfast Briefing series. Co-sponsors for the briefing include American Sportfishing Association, Center for Coastal Conservation, Coastal Conservation Association, International Game Fish Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association and The Billfish Foundation.
Lance Lemmonds – 202-543-6850 ex19