WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bipartisan bill introduced April 30 would permanently extend a 17-year fishery management agreement for the West Coast's valuable Dungeness crab fishery.

Currently, Washington, Oregon and California cooperatively manage the West Coast crab fishery under a tri-state agreement first authorized by Congress in 1996. Under the agreement, the states work with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission to manage stocks and conduct fishery science. The plan has to be regularly extended and is set to expire in 2016.

H.R. 2168, introduced by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., in the Senate and by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., in the House of Representatives.

"The Dungeness crab fishery is critical to coastal economies in Washington state, supporting hundreds of fishing and processing jobs," Cantwell said in a statement May 1. "This legislation preserves an effective, science-based, management partnership between states, federal fishery managers and fishermen to sustainably manage our crab fishery."

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