The U.S. House of Representatives voted 222-193 Wednesday to pass HR 200, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act. This bill guts many of the core conservation measures of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the primary federal law protecting our fisheries. This legislation now awaits a companion bill in the Senate.
Gulf Restoration Network has led the opposition to this bill in the five Gulf states, joining many fishermen, chefs, scientists and other groups. GRN opposes this bill because it removes science-based annual catch limits. The “flexibility” in fisheries management that this bill promises comes at the cost of abandoning what has been working for over 40 years. HR 200 threatens to undo many of the successes that the MSA has accomplished.
One thing is certain, the U.S.’s fisheries are significantly healthier today than the dark years leading up to the passage of MSA when many fisheries were on the brink of collapse. Gutting the mechanisms that have made MSA so successful will inevitably be a setback in the recovery of several Gulf species. The logic used in this bill is akin to a diabetic patient stopping their insulin regimen because it is working so well controlling their blood sugar. It just doesn’t make sense.
The good news is that there is still time to fight this issue as the Senate has yet to move forward on comparable legislation. Stay tuned and stay informed. Let’s fight together to make sure that the Magnuson-Stevens Act is strengthened, not weakened.