House Fisheries Bill ‘Falls Short’ in Addressing Conservation, Anglers’ Needs
Anglers cite need for forage management and other overarching practices in sustaining fisheries, habitat and economic benefits of sportfishing
Late Thursday, the House Natural Resources Committee approved a bill that would reauthorize the nation’s primary marine fisheries management law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act (H.R. 4742), but recreational anglers expressed concerns that the measure fails to address both their conservation priorities and the economic benefits provided by sportfishing.
“Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act” would reauthorize the overarching federal legislation governing saltwater fishing in the United States. But the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership stressed that recreational anglers’ values – as opposed to commercial interests – are not given due consideration in the House bill.
“While we are encouraged that the House is working toward reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Act, legislation that holds the key to sound marine fisheries, this bill falls short of addressing anglers’ concerns regarding federal saltwater fisheries management,” said TRCP Center for Marine Fisheries Director Chris Macaluso.
“The TRCP and its sportfishing partners are advocating for some flexibility in rebuilding timeframes of fish stocks where appropriate and based on sound science,” Macaluso continued. “But this bill goes too far in rolling back vital conservation measures necessary for healthy and sustainable fisheries.
“Other priority issues for recreational anglers – managing the forage base crucial to healthy fish stocks, examining allocations to maximize the benefits of important fisheries and codifying a process for cooperative management between the states and NOAA – are given little consideration in this bill,” Macaluso stated. “The saltwater recreational angling community has presented the administration and Congress with its vision for marine fisheries management. Given the economic importance of saltwater anglers to the nation’s outdoors-dependent economy, our recommendations merit careful consideration by Congress.”
The TRCP worked with its sportfishing partners throughout 2013 to convene a blue-ribbon panel of fisheries managers, scientists, environmental organizations, economists and policy experts to review federal fisheries management. The Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management released a report, “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries,” which identifies six key areas to be addressed in reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act:
- Establishing a national policy for recreational fishing
- Adopting a revised approach to saltwater recreational fisheries management
- Allocating marine fisheries for the greatest benefit to the nation
- Creating reasonable latitude in stock rebuilding timelines
- Codifying a process for cooperative management
- Managing the forage base
“Opportunities will exist to add more substance to the Magnuson-Stevens Act as we move forward,” concluded Macaluso, “and the TRCP will continue to actively work with members of Congress, along with other sportfishing and conservation groups, to conserve and sustain the resource and uphold the needs of the saltwater angling community.”