The Magnuson – Stevens Act (MSA) was first passed in 1976 as the primary law governing marine fisheries management in U.S. federal waters. The MSA fosters long-term biological and economic sustainability of our nation’s marine fisheries out to 200 nautical miles from shore. The key objectives of MSA are to:
- Prevent overfishing
- Rebuild depleted stocks
- Increase long-term economic and social benefits
- Ensure a safe and sustainable supply of seafood
Prior to MSA, waters beyond 12 nautical miles were international waters and fished by fleets from other countries. The 1976 law extended U.S. jurisdiction to 200 nautical miles and established eight regional fishery management councils with representation from the coastal states and fishery stakeholders. The Councils’ primary responsibility is development of fishery management plans (FMPs). These FMPs must comply with a number of conservation and management requirements, including the 10 National Standards – principles that promote sustainable fisheries management.
Congress has twice made significant revisions to the MSA, first in 1996 with the passage of the Sustainable Fisheries Act, and in 2006 with the Magnuson – Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act.
This Congress, I have introduced H.R. 200, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act. Just as we did in 2006 – the most recent MSA reauthorization – Congress must work to ensure this law keeps pace with changes in our industry and that the Act is being implemented as intended by Congress.