Communities Want More Science, Accountability in Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization

Veteran harvesters and conservation advocates are urging Congress to include greater accountability and conservation measures in reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
Sitka’s Linda Behnken testified this week in Alaska at a field hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard that “in the long run no one wins if the resource losses.”

“As Congress works to strengthen the Magnuson-Stevens Act to support community based fishermen, we firmly believe that maintaining productive fisheries through resource conservation is step one in that process,” she said. “The heightened emphasis on resource rebuilding that was central to the last reauthorization is still essential to long term resource health and we ask that Congress recommit to conservation goals,” she explained.

Behnken is a harvester of more than three decades, longlining for halibut and black cod and trolling for salmon out of Sitka with her family. She is also president of the Halibut Coalition and executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association.

“Rebuilding fish populations benefits not only fish and fishermen, but also those who are part of the larger seafood economy, including the chefs, restaurants, retailers and other seafood businesses that rely on a steady supply of seafood,” she said. “As U.S. consumers increasingly demand sustainably managed and caught seafood, the conservation requirements of the MSA are a win for both business owners and their customers,” she added.

Behnken was one of 14 people testifying in three panels during the subcommittee hearing chaired by Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska.

Transcripts of their testimony are online at