Washington, D.C. – Alaskan Congressman Don Young today announced the introduction of H.R. 1335, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act, legislation he sponsored to reauthorize and strengthen the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). H.R. 1335 would provide a number of modest but necessary updates to the MSA, including efforts to increase flexibility and transparency for fisheries managers, authorize the use of electronic monitoring for data collection, research and compliance, and create predictability and certainty for those coastal communities that are dependent on stable fishing activities.
“The management plans developed under the Magnuson-Stevens Act have allowed our coastal communities to benefit from this important renewable natural resources while maintaining the health of fish stocks in the North Pacific,” said Congressman Young. “Through an open and transparent process, management entities like the North Pacific Fishery Management Council have been able to provide our many stakeholders a voice in how our fisheries resources are managed. While the Act has worked well, there ultimately comes a time when we must review and update our laws to keep pace with the changing dynamics of our industry and ensure they are being implemented as intended.”
H.R. 1335 would make a number of improvements to the MSA in order to ensure a proper balance between the biological needs of fish stocks and the economic needs of fishermen and coastal communities. The bill includes the following:
- Added flexibility for fishery managers in “data poor” regions of the country for rebuilding depleted fisheries and setting annual catch levels;
- More transparency for fishermen and others in both science and management;
- Greater protection for confidential information, including proprietary data, submitted to regulatory agencies;
- A requirement for NOAA to provide better accountability on how fees are collected and used;
- Clarification on the role of the Magnuson-Stevens Act when interacting with other federal statutes like the Marine Sanctuaries Act and Antiquities Act;
- Appropriations for five fiscal years.
In addition to the reforms listed above, H.R. 1335 would update the way fisheries are managed, enforced and harvested around the country by green lighting the use of Electronic Monitoring (EM).
“The National Marine Fisheries Service has for far too long lagged behind the interest of the industry to use electronic monitoring (EM) as an addition or alternative to on-board observers,” said Congressman Young. “The use of electronic monitoring could help provide real-time information to fishery managers and at the same time reduce costs for fishermen. But in order for this to be an effective tool, NOAA needs to move forward with standards to allow the Councils to further use the technology in their regions.”
As a senior member of the House Natural Resources Committee and an original author of the 1976 MSA, Congressman Young was recently tapped by Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) to lead this year’s MSA reauthorization efforts in the House. He recently wrote an Op-Ed, Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Moves Forward with Young at Helm, to emphasize the importance of the MSA and the need to review and update our nation’s fisheries laws. He has encouraged all interested stakeholders to review and critique H.R. 1335 and share their thoughts with him in the coming months.
H.R. 1335 was introduced by Congressman Young on March 4, 2015 with three regional cosponsors: Reps. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Bradley Byrne (R-AL), and Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS).