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Boating Industry Disappointed in Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Progress

Tuesday, June 10, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lindsey Johnson
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On May 29, the House Committee on Natural Resources marked up H.R. 4742, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act, with a vote of 24 (yes) to 17 (no). The bill was ordered for report to the full House of Representatives for a floor vote, which has not yet been scheduled.

This bill re-authorizes the Magnuson-Stevens Act that provides the fundamental framework for our nation’s fisheries management. The last re-authorization was in 2006, and it actually expired in September 2013.

Magnuson-Stevens was written to control commercial fishing by extending the legal boundary of the United States to 200 miles for fisheries management and setting catch limits. The act has not addressed recreational fishing issues, and many in the boating industry, including the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, had told Congress about the need for a national recreational fishing policy. MRAA and industry supporters asked that Magnuson-Stevens be amended to include recreational fishing; however, H.R. 4742 failed to address the concerns of recreational fishing.

The bill did address a concern that the last re-authorization has caused economic hardship to some local communities and that a level of flexibility needs to written into the law. In some areas of the country, fishing communities are struggling. For example, a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated ground fish revenues fell in 2012 in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island to as much as a four-year low. The bill hopes to address this concern by using a more science-based timeframe for fish stock restoration. These allocations for commercial and recreational fisheries are sometimes decades old and do not reflect current social, economic and environmental conditions.

"Because commercial and recreational fisheries are very different activities with dissimilar harvest, Congress must recognize that each require different management approaches,” says MRAA president Matt Gruhn. "MRAA will continue to work for the establishment of a recreational fisheries management policy.”