Draft Revision of Magnuson-Steven Act Reauthorization Legislation Now Online

A revised draft of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the primary federal law governing marine fisheries management in U.S. waters, is now online for public review and comment.

This shorter, revised draft incorporates many comments from Alaskans and others around the nation who responded to the initial discussion draft in April, according to Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard.

Public comment is encouraged on the document, which is online at http://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/?a=Files.Serve&File_id=645df928-1aee-416d-bb82-8739b0ad3656. Comments may be submitted to Bob_King@begich.senate.gov.

Pew Charitable Trusts, in a statement released earlier this summer, credited MSA with a role in rebuilding a number of depleted fish populations. The House Committee on Natural Resources’ bill to reauthorize and amend MSA includes provisions that would undermine key reforms that have proved instrumental in rebuilding depleted U.S. ocean fish populations, according to Lee Crockett, writing for the Pew Charitable Trusts in Ocean Views.

Instead of weakening the MSA and putting progress at risk, Congress should require a transition to ecosystem-based fishery management, Crockett said. This, said Crockett, means protecting important habitats, avoiding non-target catch, ensuring that enough forage fish remain in the water to feed larger animals and putting ecosystem planning on the agenda for fisheries managers.

Commercial fisheries is Alaska’s largest private-sector industry, creating some 70,000 jobs annually and driving local economies from the panhandle of Southeast Alaska to the Bering Sea.