Pew fights fisheries bill


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
April 6, 2009

The Pew Environment Group on Tuesday asked Congress to oppose a bill that would lengthen the timeline for rebuilding depleted fish stocks.
Along with 44 national, regional and state conservation groups, Pew argued that the bill would dilute the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), which governs the United States' fisheries and was reauthorized in 2006, by allowing fishery management councils to ignore MSA requirements for rebuilding fish populations.
"The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that depleted fish populations be rebuilt as quickly as biologically possible," said Lee Crockett, Pew's director of federal fisheries policy. "But shortsightedness and political pressure has kept too many fish populations from reaching healthy, sustainable levels. If this bill were enacted, it would guarantee that many of our coastal fisheries would not be restored in our lifetime."
Dubbed the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act of 2009, the bill was introduced by Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) on 18 March to give fisheries managers greater flexibility in rebuilding fish stocks while keeping fishing communities economically viable in the interim. Essentially, the legislation would permit an extension beyond the 10-year rebuilding period.
"We can promote conservation of fish populations and fishing communities at the same time, but in order to achieve both goals, we need to have rebuilding schedules with some flexibility," said Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who co-sponsored the bill. "If we can rebuild a weakened fish species in 13 years instead of 10 in order to soften the economic impact, we ought to be able to do that."
The bill, which is supported by a dozen legislators, was referred to the House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife on 23 March.
Among the conservation groups opposed to the bill are the Audubon Naturalist Society, Blue Ocean Institute, Conservation Law Foundation, Greenpeace USA, Natural Resources Defense Council, Ocean Conservancy and Oceana.

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