Written by Adrianne Madden
December 11, 2009
NOAA is trumpeting catch shares as the cure for what ails U.S. fish stocks, but an attempt to modify the Magnuson-Stevens Act could provide greater benefits to the fishing industry and fish stocks.
To that end, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), has tentatively scheduled a caucus of East Coast legislators next Thursday to discuss altering Magnuson. Specifically, Frank wants to bring greater flexibility to stock rebuilding timelines.
The caucus complements House and Senate bills filed by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) respectively. Frank is among the two dozen congressmen and senators who co-sponsor the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act.
Frank told the Gloucester (Mass.) Daily Times http://www.gloucestertimes.com/fishing/x546182589/Congressman-sets-date-for-Magnuson-caucus that fisheries managers wrestling with meeting stringent Magnuson requirements are unnecessarily harming historic Atlantic coast fishing communities.
Frank is right. NOAA may be sold on catch shares as a fisheries management tool, but New England groundfishermen are skeptical to say the least. And the economic impact of catch shares upon the region's fishing communities is barely being taken into account.
Modifying Magnuson, however, would take those impacts into greater consideration while still retaining commitment to promoting sustainable fishing and rebuilding depressed fish stocks in a reasonable time frame. It's not a slam dunk that Congress will amend Magnuson, but you've got to applaud the effort.
Better still, you can lend your support by reaching out to your local congressmen and senators and urging them to sign on to the bills. And to cast your votes in support of the House version, click here http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h1584/show and for the Senate version, here http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-s1255/show.
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