Our lone congressman, Don Young, recently introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to reauthorize our federal fisheries management law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The law is the foundation of sustainable fisheries management, and bears the names and legacy of legendary Sen. Ted Stevens and Sen. Warren Magnuson. Young's proposed legislation unwinds the important work the senators did to ensure the long-term sustainability of our fisheries.
The last reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, in 2006, applied Alaska's model of federal fisheries management -- setting catch limits based on science -- to the nation, and required accountability measures to ensure rebuilding of depleted stocks. Young's reauthorization bill guts these important advances. Under Young's bill, annual catch limits, set to keep fish stocks healthy for the long run, would no longer be necessary for managers. Reasonable timelines put in place to replenish depleted fisheries could also be loosened or open-ended, delaying economic and recreational opportunities that come from healthy stocks.
When introducing this bill, Young claimed that applying the Alaska model to the rest of the country was a misguided approach, as other regions did not have adequate science to manage to Alaska's standards. What the bill does is bring us down to the lowest common denominator rather than strive to improve our fisheries management. If other regions don't have the science to manage, we should expand data and scientific research, not gut our fisheries management law.
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