The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation met in Boston for a Nov. 4 field hearing concerning reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. There, they heard testimony on how the federal fisheries management law is devastating the region's groundfish industry, and calls to improve the act.
Among those testifying was Brian Rothschild, president of the New Bedford-based Center for Sustainable Fisheries. His testimony may well offer a preview of his Keynote Address at Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle next week regarding Magnuson-Stevens Act national standard guidelines and recommendations for improving them.
Rothschild, pictured at left, told the committee that one of the main principles Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization must tackle is creating a better balance of all 10 of the act's national standards and lessening the preoccupation on overfishing.
Despite that emphasis, Rothschild said, the overfished/overfishing condition of groundfish stocks remains high even though fishing intensity has declined considerably. He then outlined how that emphasis has affected the industry.
"There is material job loss in the producing sector. The job loss contributes to unaccounted for welfare costs in coastal communities," he said. "This job loss in the producing sector has to generate job loss in the processing sector. Shore-side losses in fuel and repair must be correlated with the reduction of trips and vessel loss."
Rothschild says that while he brings a New England perspective to the Magnuson-Stevens issues he'll cover in his Pacific Marine Expo Keynote Address, those issues affect fishermen on all coasts. The internationally recognized marine scientist would know.
The Montgomery Charter Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth has served as director of the NMFS Office of Policy and Planning, the Southwest Fisheries Science Center and the Northwest and Alaska fisheries science centers. He also managed the implementation of the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976, establishing the framework for the regional council system.
His Keynote Address will be well-worth hearing. I'm hoping that the lawmakers in our nation's capitol will listen to his comments as attentively as the Expo audience will — and more importantly, resolve to make necessary improvements to the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
Photo courtesy of Brian Rothschild