WASHINGTON — A legislative proposal that could ease limits on fish catches in federal waters including the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic is drawing praise from fishermen who say current restrictions are hurting them economically.
But conservationists counter that rolling back the limits would threaten the fragile health of certain stocks just now rebounding.
A Tuesday hearing by the House Natural Resources Committee was the first on the issue since December, when the committee released the GOP legislative proposal that would reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
The act governs the nation’s fisheries and spells out how eight regional councils are allowed to manage fish populations in federal waters.
The GOP proposal would give those councils more flexibility in how they rebuild fisheries and set catch limits, a primary tool to prevent overfishing of certain species. Fishermen and key advocates, including Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, say the limits have been overused recently at a cost to their industry.
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National Fisherman Live: 1/27/15
In this episode:
Assessment: Atlantic menhaden is not overfished
Bering Sea pollock fishery casts off
Dock to Dish opens Florida’s first CSF
Second wave of disaster funds for Alaska
Fisherman lands N.C.’s largest bluefin ever
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute is still seeking public review and comment on the Alaska Responsible Fisheries Management Conformance Criteria (Version 1.2, September 2011). The public review and comment period, which opened on Dec. 3, 2014, runs through Monday, Feb. 3.
NOAA, in consultation with the Department of the Interior, has appointed 10 new members to the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee. The 20-member committee is composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experience who advise the departments of commerce and the interior on ways to strengthen and connect the nation's MPA programs. The new members join the 10 continuing members appointed in 2012.