Statement from Environmental Defense Fund on U.S. Senate Hearing Examining “Southeast Regional Perspectives on Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization”

November 14, 2013
Contact: 
Matthew Smelser, (512) 731-3023, msmelser@edf.org

(WASHINGTON – November 14, 2013) Today the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard will hold a hearing on the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to review perspectives from the Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic, and Caribbean. This is the second in a series of regionally-focused hearings by the subcommittee considering proposals for reauthorization of the nation’s federal fisheries law.

Pamela Baker, EDF’s Gulf of Mexico Oceans Program Director, issued the following statement:

“In the years since the Magnuson-Stevens Act was last reauthorized we’ve seen a remarkable transformation of the Gulf’s commercial red snapper and grouper fisheries. The current law gives the regional fishery management council the responsibility to deeply involve fishermen and all stakeholders and the flexibility to implement far-sighted changes to meet the Act’s dual objectives of thriving stocks and viable fishing communities. 

“Solving fishery problems is challenging, but the system has worked to replace management that had failed with a plan that meets regional needs. The changes have dramatically improved conservation outcomes while increasing economic performance of coastal fishing-related businesses, and enabled more Americans to enjoy fresh, wild-caught Gulf seafood. As Congress considers changes to the law, it must first and foremost safeguard what is working well.

“Management of the Gulf’s federal red snapper recreational fishery is broken. To get longer seasons that people seek and ensure sustainability, new plans are needed that help anglers and charter captains improve their opportunities to fish. Meaningful change will once again require vision and foresight from the regional fishery council and stakeholders.

“However, false ‘solutions’—such as ”reallocation” of fish away from  local fishing businesses and consumers, or weakening amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Act—won’t help anglers and represent a step backwards from a prosperous future for the Gulf.  It is time to end the old dynamic of “commercial versus recreational” fishing and replace it with one that respects a diversity of values from Gulf fisheries and the potential gains from new collaboration among fishermen.”

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