Modern Fish Act passes House: Industry wonders what happened to Magnuson?

The U.S. House voted to pass the Modern Fish Act on Wednesday, just two days after the Senate approved it unanimously, swiftly sending the bill to President Donald Trump’s desk for a signature.

The “Modernizing Recreational Fishing Management Act,” or S.1520, has been the subject of debate and compromise among lawmakers, commercial and recreational fishing interests, and environmentalists for months.

The National Coalition for Fishing Communities released a statement on Thursday denouncing the quick passage of the bill and cementing their earlier support for Rep. Don Young’s (R-Alaska) reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, H.R. 200, that was passed over earlier this year.

Unfortunately, the Senate failed to take up the House bill, and instead took up S.1520, the “Modernizing Recreational Fishing Management Act,” read the statement. “In its original form, S.1520 faced widespread opposition from both commercial fishing and environmental groups. After its most controversial components were either totally removed or substantially weakened, it moved forward in the Senate and passed the House yesterday.”

“S.1520 is an amendment to, but not a reauthorization of, the Magnuson-Stevens Act,” it continued.

The passage is being celebrated by recreational fishing groups stumping for anglers, while commercial fishing groups are still pushing for an MSA reauthorization.

“The enormous amount of energy spent working to turn S.1520 from a widely opposed bill to a diminished version just so it could make it through the Senate would have been better spent on crafting a helpful Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization,” said Greg DiDomenico, executive director of the Garden State Seafood Association in New Jersey. “If the President signs this bill into law, the best outcome might be that the public may get a better sense of the significant catch and discard mortality associated with recreational fishing, but the bill does not get us the real reform that both industries need.”

“We certainly hope the passage of this bill doesn’t reduce the incentive for the 116th Congress to work with the seafood industry on legislation to reauthorize the MSA in ways that will enhance the law and benefit fishing communities throughout the U.S.,” said Lori Steele, executive director of the West Coast Seafood Processors Association in Portland, Ore. “The need for such legislation remains.”

About the author

Samuel Hill

Samuel Hill is the former associate editor for National Fisherman. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine where he got his start in journalism at the campus’ newspaper, the Free Press. He has also written for the Bangor Daily News, the Outline, Motherboard and other publications about technology and culture.

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