Today, Rep. Jared Huffman (CA-02) — chair of the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee — and Rep. Ed Case (HI-01) introduced legislation to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the primary law governing U.S. marine fisheries that has been in place since 1976 and last reauthorized in 2006. The legislation, titled the Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act, would improve habitat conservation, bycatch management, and requirements to rebuild stocks.
Oceana applauded the bill’s introduction and released the following statement from campaign director Whitney Webber:
“It’s time to bring our fisheries law into the 21st century and harness the power of information and technology to better manage America’s fisheries. Managing our oceans in a changing climate will require modern management tools, and Reps. Huffman and Case should be commended for their leadership in championing changes that will help keep our oceans fishy for generations to come. We know that healthy fisheries are critical to sustaining our coastal communities and economy and look forward to working with Congress to strengthen our nation’s hallmark fisheries law. The changes proposed by Reps. Huffman and Case will continue the trend of improvement that has accompanied each of the past reauthorizations of this bill.”
The MSA is one of the most effective fisheries laws in the world today. Originally signed into law with bipartisan support in 1976, the MSA has been updated (or “reauthorized”) several times since then. The most recent reauthorization took place in 2006 and significantly strengthened the MSA’s focus on conservation, science-based management, and long-term sustainability. While the MSA has brought back several fisheries from the brink of collapse after decades of overfishing, a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) signals that more must be done. In fact, NOAA’s 2020 Status of Stocks report found that the number of overfished fish stocks has reached its highest point since 2012, with 49 fish stocks, or 20% of all known stocks, considered overfished. This includes eight fish stocks that were previously rebuilt but are now overfished once again.