Rep. Jared Huffman calls it like it is…..
What the farm bill is to terrestrial food production, the fish bill, a.k.a. the Magnuson-Stevens Act, is to the ocean—the law that governs America’s marine fisheries. First passed in 1976 to kick foreign fishing fleets out of American waters, the MSA has evolved into one of the nation’s most effective conservation laws. A reauthorization in 1996 required managers to place all overfished stocks on strict rebuilding timelines, and another in 2006 mandated hard limits on total catches. Those science-based provisions have recovered 44 once-depleted stocks, from the canary rockfish to the barndoor skate.
The bill could “undercut the important role science plays in management decisions.”
But not everyone thinks the fish bill is still fresh. Rep. Don Young, an Alaska Republican, has long arguedthat its rules against overfishing hurt coastal economies. On July 11, the House passed H.R. 200, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act, mostly along party lines. The reauthorization, claimed Young, who sponsored the bill, would strike “a proper balance between the biological needs of fish stocks and the economic needs of fishermen.”
Environmentalists see it differently. By weakening the very stipulations that have made Magnuson-Stevens so effective, cautioned Ted Morton, oceans director at the Pew Charitable Trusts, the bill could “undercut the important role science plays in management decisions” and increase overfishing. Rep. Jared Huffman, a California Democrat, dubbed Young’s legislation the Empty Oceans Act. […]
H.R. 200 would grant fishery managers what scientists have called “get out of jail free cards” to continue overfishing. Rather than rebuilding stocks as fast as possible, for instance, the new law would let regional management councils rehabilitate them as fast as practicable, a subtle but important tweak that could lead to looser regulation.