MSA hearing covers range of topics

Witnesses from the commercial and sport fishing sectors, as well as scientists and representatives of nongovernment organizations, talked about several fishery management issues they’d like to see addressed at a U.S. House Natural Resources Committee hearing Sept. 11.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act, or MSA, regulates management of federal fisheries from three miles to 200 miles offshore. It was implemented in 1976, and most recently updated in 2006. Alaska’s delegation has said that a reauthorization likely won’t come until next year.

In his opening comments, Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., touched on a number of topics that could show up in the revisions, including the information available about sport fishing harvest and efforts, the confidential and proprietary nature of some fisheries data collection efforts and flexibility in rebuilding periods for certain stocks.

As is, Hastings said, the rebuilding periods sometimes cause economic hardships for communities, and some flexibility could be beneficial.

Hastings’ points were echoed in testimony from several witnesses, most of whom represented Lower 48 fishing interests.

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