House Passes Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Update

House Passes Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Update

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 200, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act, by a 222-193 vote on July 11. The legislation reauthorizes the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the primary law affecting marine fisheries management in the U.S., and includes the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 (Modern Fish Act).

The Modern Fish Act includes many of the recommendations made in 2014 by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, also known as the Morris-Deal Commission named for co-chairs Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boat Group. It specifically addresses many of the challenges faced by recreational anglers, including allowing alternative management tools for recreational fishing, reexamining fisheries allocations and improving recreational data collection. The bill aims to benefit fishing access and conservation by incorporating modern management approaches, science and technology to guide decision-making

“The recreational fishing industry is grateful that H.R. 200, which includes the provisions of the Modern Fish Act, has now passed the U.S. House of Representatives,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “The Modern Fish Act represents the collective priorities of the recreational fishing community for improving federal marine fisheries management. There are 11 million saltwater anglers in the U.S. who have a $63 billion economic impact annually and generate 440,000 jobs. This legislation will help ensure that the economic, conservation and social values of saltwater recreational fishing will continue well into the future.”

While the Modern Fish Act is supported by a number of angling trade and industry groups, it is not universally supported. The Marine Fish Conservation Network opposes the legislation saying it weakens many conservation measures within the Magnuson-Stevens Act including the mandate to use science-based fishing catch limits.

July 13, 2018