There's a radio commercial I hear a lot on my ride into work each day. It's for a website for job seekers that has a rather lengthy name, but its slogan sticks with you: Long name, amazing results.
We'll find out if that slogan can be applied to Alaska Congressman Don Young's recently introduced bill, H.R. 1335, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act.
Young is the sponsor of the long-named bill to reauthorize and strengthen the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Reps. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) and Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-American Samoa) are its co-sponsors.
Bishop recently tapped Young, the House Natural Resources Committee's senior member and an original author of the nation's original federal fishing law in 1976, to take the lead in this year's Magnuson reauthorization efforts in the House.
Young says his bill contains a number of provisions intended to strike a greater balance between fish stock health and the economic needs of fishermen and their fishing-dependent coastal communities. The bill would give fisheries managers in "data poor" regions of the country greater flexibility for rebuilding depleted stocks and setting annual catch limits.
It would also make the management process more transparent for fishermen, scientists and managers alike, and provide greater protection for confidential information, including proprietary data fishermen provide to regulatory agencies.
NOAA would have to provide better accountability on how fees are collected and used. It calls for clarifying Magnuson-Stevens' role when it interacts with other statutes, such as the Marine Sanctuaries Act and the Antiquities Act. And it would provide appropriations for the next five fiscal years.
According to Young, the bill would also update the way fisheries are managed, enforced and harvested nationwide by giving the go-ahead to using electronic monitoring.
"The use of electronic monitoring could help provide real-time information to fishery managers and at the same time reduce costs for fishermen," Young said in a news release. "But in order for this to be an effective tool, NOAA needs to move forward with standards to allow the Councils to further use the technology in their regions."
Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization has always been a lengthy process, taking years to complete. It will be great if when it's finally approved, it's in a form that all members of the U.S. fishing industry can get behind. If that does indeed happen, the result will indeed be amazing — and very much welcome.