The Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) is one of the strongest fishery conservation laws in the world. For nearly 50 years, the MSA has guided the management of hundreds of fish stocks populations in dozens of fishery management plans — from the Caribbean to Alaska.
Each of these fisheries is overseen by a regional fishery management council made up of state government officials and appointed fishery experts that set scientifically based catch limits for target catch, minimize bycatch, and protect habitat. In addition, the councils are charged with preventing overfishing and rebuilding the fisheries that are already overfished.
The eight regional fishery management councils hold meetings throughout the year to develop and implement the fishery management plans and address other emerging issues with the fisheries they oversee. In these meeting, the council members discuss issues and stakeholders like Oceana and other non-governmental organizations, scientists, fishermen and concerned citizens can provide public comments.
Over the decades, the regional fishery management councils have amassed a long history of management successes and creative problem solving.
Since Oceana was founded in 2001, we’ve participated in the Council process to achieve protections across the US from freezing the footprint on bottom trawling in the North Pacific and New England to protecting sea turtles from bycatch.
To highlight some of the regional success stories of how the MSA can work and how the councils can advance responsible fisheries management, Oceana released a series of factsheets that include large and small fisheries, common problems facing fishery managers related to habitat conservation, and bycatch reduction. In May 2023, Oceana gave our fact sheets detailing these success stories to the Council Coordination Committee at its semi-annual meeting in Key West, Florida. Our fact sheets are linked below for further reading:
- Chinook salmon bycatch in the Alaska pollock fishery,
- Pacific coast habitat protection,
- Sea turtle bycatch reduction in the United States,
- Protections from bottom trawling,
- and deep-sea coral conservation from Maine to Virginia.
By learning from previous successes, fishery managers can use these examples to assist them as they tackle new challenges in the future.