Coastal Post Online

DONATE TO US

SUBSCRIBE TO US

ADVERTISE WITH US

**** COASTALPOST'S LOGO ****

DONATE TO US

SUBSCRIBE TO US

ADVERTISE WITH US

MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

October, 2005

Federal Agency's Proposal Fails Nation's
Fish And Fishermen

Magnuson-Stevens Act Reauthorization Proposal
Lowers Decade-old Protections
PORTLAND, OR - The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) proposed turning back the clock on ocean protections by at least a decade, declared the Marine Fish Conservation Network (Network), the nation's largest coalition to promote sustainable marine fish management. NMFS today submitted to Congress its long-awaited legislative proposal to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the federal law that governs the nation's ocean fisheries.
"We're very disappointed with this proposal from the National Marine Fisheries Service. It seems like the agency has changed its motto to: 'If at first you don't succeed, lower the standard,'" said Lee Crockett, executive director of the Network. "This proposal codifies the poor performance of fishery managers and gives them legal cover by weakening the Magnuson-Stevens Act's conservation requirements."
The proposal would weaken protections for marine fish and fishing communities by:
Removing the requirement to rebuild overfished populations (populations at unsustainably low levels) within ten years if biologically possible.
Allowing overfishing (fishing rates that are unsustainably high) to continue for two years on overfished fish populations instead of ending it immediately as currently required.
Failing to include strong national standards for individual fishing quota systems that protect against fishery monopolies and harmful impacts on the environment.
"NMFS is attacking overfishing protections from all sides. It's going after the regulations that protect against overfishing, and when the regulations don't meet the spirit and letter of the law, then it proposes changing the law. These proposals seem like a real slap in the face for President Bush's ocean commission which said that we need to improve protections for our oceans, not eliminate them," said Peter Huhtala, president of the Pacific Marine Conservation Council.
Congress, under the leadership of Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), passed the Sustainable Fisheries Act in 1996 to implement improved conservation measures in fishery management. At that time, Congress set the newly renamed MSA to require reauthorization in 1999. While this is not the first proposal that NMFS has submitted to reauthorize the federal fishery law since it expired five years ago, it is the first that would significantly roll back conservation.
NMFS also proposed in June to weaken regulations (called the national standard one guidelines) that guard against overfishing. The agency proposed similar changes to the law in its proposal to make the new guidelines better able to withstand legal challenges.
The Marine Fish Conservation Network is a coalition of over 175 national and regional environmental organizations, commercial and recreational fishing groups, aquariums, and marine science groups dedicated to conserving marine fish and to promoting their long-term sustainability. For more information, please visit www.conservefish.org Tony DeFalco, West Coast Organizer Marine Fish Conservation Network 4189 SE Division, Portland, Oregon 97202, (503) 234-3505


Coastal Post Home Page